Berlin, the capital city of Germany with a population of 3 million people is under construction. Almost everywhere I went there were construction cranes peppering the skyline and the photos I took with my camera. Compared to other cities in Europe Berlin is young and is most recently notably known for the Berlin Wall which fell (Aug 13, 1961 to Nov 9, 1989) to mark the end of the Cold War.
Though not entirely winning points on cleanliness I rented a decent AirBnb apartment on Kurfurstenstr. It was very close to city centre including Potsdamer Place and Brandenburger Gate. The apartment was close to a really cool café called Lilobop Macarons. They had retro egg shaped chairs which I enjoyed sitting and drinking my latte in.
With only five days to sight-see it was impossible to see everything. And much like in Vienna you can purchase a Berlin card that offers unlimited transportation as well as optional discounts on museums attractions, cafes and restaurants. The Berlin transit system is not as fluid as Prague’s so you will need to study your map else you might get lost. Some metro stations host trains from different lines so you also have to keep a lookout as to not get on the wrong train line, S-bahn or U-bhan.
Sandemans New Europe (free) Tours operates in Berlin and meets in front of the Starbucks by Brandenberger Gate. Overall it was a good tour as there is a lot of historical sites to explore. Though it was a hot day and frustratingly kept us in the sun instead of the cool shaded side.
A snapshot of sites to see in Berlin include:
- Brandenberger Gate – An iconic landmark of Berlin and the site of many events in history that as (re)built in the 1800’s. It is currently part of the pedestrian zone at Pariser Platz.
- Potsdamer Place – A popular public square close to Branderberger Gate and is home to cafes, parks as well as the Sony Centre.
- Hauptbahnhof – The new major train terminal in Berlin that also houses restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and also where you can pickup up a Berlin card. International trains come through this station.
- Checkpoint Charlie – A former border crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War and is now reconstructed for tourists with actors playing US Soldiers for photo-ops.
- Tiergarten – A large 520 acre urban park in the centre of Berlin
- DDR Museum – a small popular and interactive museum that gives good sense into life in the former GDR (East Berlin).
- East Berlin Art Gallery – A one kilometre long open exhibition on sections of the Berlin Wall.
- Reichstag Building – Built in the late 1800’s was used as a former parliamentary building. Then for propaganda presentations during the Third Reich and ad hoc meetings during the cold war. Renovated in 1999 it is the meeting place of the German parliament:
- The TV Tower (Fernsehturm) -A 368 metre high tower close to the large public square Alexanderplatz, it is the tallest structure in Germany. At the top of the tower there is a revolving restaurant and enclosed sight-seeing deck.
- Kreuzberg / Neukolln – A young and hip area full of bars and restaurants.
- Museum Island – Across the the River Spree you will find five museums built from 1830 to 1930, The Altes Museum, The Neues Museum (New Museum), The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), The Bode Museum and The Pergamon Museum,
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – A memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust that spans almost 5 acres.
- ComputerSpieleMuseum – Release your inner child and check out the history of video gaming.Pong, Asteroids, Pac Man, Gauntlet and other games made through the ages.
- The Victory Column – Built in 1864 to celebrate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War
With good architecture, a rich cultural mix, a prominent history and fun daytime and nightlife activities Berlin is a pleasure to visit and there are more than enough things to do there that will keep you coming back for more.
Some photos from the East Berlin Outdoor Art Gallery Exhibition