I left Dubai on 8th Sept for Germany,a. week before my husband so that I could spend a week with our son Saif in Berlin.
Unfortunately due to a small snarl up in the booking I didn’t get a connecting flight to Berlin, since Emirates flies directly only to Dusseldorf and Munich. Anyway I booked a train ticket by DB-bahn, through the net from Flugafen Dusseldorf ( airport ) to Berlin HBF ( the main train station).
It was a comfortable 4 hour journey . Saif was waiting for me at the station and so it was a holiday well begun!
I had made all the hotel bookings and itinerary via reviews on booking.com. Most of the reviews are very trust worthy. Tip :I would advise anyone making bookings not to book any place which gets less than 8 points.Also if you are dependent on public transport , check the distance from the nearest underground station. You don’t want to spend time on traveling instead of sight seeing.
Tip: Another advise would be unless you have small children, who need special food which you have to cook, don’t opt for an apartment. They don’t provide housekeeping services and it’s nobody’s idea of fun to clean or make beds on a holiday. Also the bathrooms become too messy!
I had booked an apartment in Berlin, since I was there for a week and thought I could do some cooking for my son who I (and my maid back home) felt needed some pampering and hot food….
But so much for plans of mice and men! The kitchenette was just a platform with a cooking range, tea kettle and micro wave. Though there were pots and pans etc but I could only manage to make breakfast and tea. ( That also with dollops of help from the neighborhood bakery)
Tip : Buy a Berlin welcome Card or Berlin pass if you plan to visit Berlin’s magnificent museums.
Here is the link.
You can study both schemes and decide which is best for you.
There is also a pass for 28 Euros for all public transport , valid for a week which I took. I did not know about the welcome card or pass so ended up paying a lot for the hop on hop bus and entry into museums.
Hop on Hop off Bus
the best way to see any unknown city . especially one teaming with history is to get atop a hop on hop off bus.
I preferred the yellow bus as for 22 Euros and is valid for 2 days. It also covers maximum places.
The buses start from Kurfurstendamm/corner Rankestrasse – opposite the Memorial Church and Alexanderplatz / opposite Park Inn Hotel. You can get to both on the public transport which I must say is excellent.
I brought glorious sunshine with me to Berlin , ideal for sightseeing atop an open double-Decker.
Though my personal recommendation is that you must do the walking tour, if you can walk for 4-5 hours comfortably
(Pack comfy walking shoes)
The Insider Berlin walking tours show all the main sites while delivering a gripping narrative on this city’s history, character and contemporary state.
I loved it. Unfortunately I came to know of it a little late so missed most of their tours, including Dresdem ( which is only Sundays and Wednesdays)
I just took The Famous Insider Walk:Hidden Berlin & ALL Main Sites
The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall.
The damaged tower is a symbol of Berlin’s resolve to rebuild the city after the war and a constant reminder of the destruction of war.
In the collage i have made you can see the original church tower and the one being rebuilt under cover with just the spire showing.
The new building was something which seemed to the purist in me like pigeon holes and I didn’t like it. Actually I couldn’t figure out what it was to start with.
Did not take any close ups of it either!
The new church and the covered tower under renovation can be seen in this.
Since I strongly believe in the deen and duniya concept, my next stop was at KaDeWe.
The Kaufhaus des Westens which means English “Department Store of the West” is known to us shopoholics as KaDeWe. With over 60,000 square metres of selling space and more than 380,000 articles available, it is the second largest department store in Europe; second only by Harrods in London. It attracts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors every day
What made it stand out for me were the displays.
for those who like to smell of roses
for those with a sweet tooth
for those who would like to buy 450 Euro Miu Miu shoes!
or 2500 euro Ralph Lauren bedsheets!
I sent these pictures by whatsapp to my sisters and nieces back home from the shop and in return got a picture from them with the caption, “Rana our desi malls, just for you.”
me: ” at least I can buy there. here it was only a case of , “Look Maa no hands!”
Driving Ms Rana
The big yellow bus drove me through Berlin.
Berlin is full of symbolic memorials
The Berlin Philharmonic‘s golden building.Like many parts of Berlin, the orchestra’s first concert hall was destroyed in 1944. Since 1963, the orchestra has been resident at the Philharmonie, which was constructed from 1960 until 1963, following the design of architect Hans Scharoun.
The Potsdamer Platz is named after the city of Potsdam, some 25 km to the south west, and marks the point where the old road from Potsdam passed through the city wall of Berlin at the Potsdam Gate. Once the most bustling traffic intersection in Europe, it was totally laid waste during World War II and totally desolated during the Cold War era when the Berlin Wall bisected its former location. Since German reunification, Potsdamer Platz has been the site of major redevelopment projects.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, the square became the focus of attention again, as some 60 hectares in an attractive location suddenly became available in the centre of a major European capital city. As part of a redevelopment effort for the area, the Sony center was constructed.
The Sony centre was designed by Helmut Jahn and construction was completed in 2000 at a total cost of €750M.
It is crowned by a spectacular and innovative roof. The architect Helmut Jahn wanted a roof that would cover the plaza like an umbrella, without being sealed or disconnecting users from an outdoor experience.
The exceptional glass membrane roof rests on a 500t ring beam.
It houses shops, restaurants, a conference centre, hotel rooms, luxurious rented suites and condominiums, offices, art and film museums, cinemas, an IMAX theatre, a small version of Legoland, and a “Sony Style” store.
A well earned rest after all the walking!
A giraffe made entirely with Lego stands outside the centre.
Museum Island (German: Museumsinsel) is the name of the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin, Germany, the site of the old city of Cölln. A complex of five internationally significant museums give it this name.
A bronze map of Museum island near Pergamon Museum.
The museums are
The Altes Museum (Old Museum)
The Neues Museum (New Museum)Destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt under the direction of David Chipperfield for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and re-opened in 2009.
The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) hosts a collection of 19th century art donated by banker Joachim H. W. Wagener
The Bode Museum on the island’s northern tip, which exhibits the sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art.
The Pergamon Museum, the final museum of the complex, constructed in 1930. It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
However, the day being Sunday my interest in the Museum Island were not the magnificent museums there but the wonderful flea market which is set up on the banks of River Spree on the weekend.
Inspite of dissuasion from my son who felt that there’s no percentage in running after the past and i should buy new and swanky stuff, the collector’s instinct in me pulled me there. Unless we preserve our past how do we save our future?
After much bargaining I purchased a couple of Limoges coffee cups and a few porcelain figurines from the vendors.
Since the sun sets much later in the west and there was glorious sunshine we decided to hop on the next yellow bus and hop off at CharlottenBurg Schloss. of all the places we wanted to visit this was the furthest. The rest are more or less within walking distance from Alexanderplatz.
This is the largest palace in Berlin and is framed by a baroque-style garden. The Old Palace, has baroque rooms, royal apartments and a large Chinese and Japanese porcelain collection. In 1696, Sophie Charlotta the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg had the original Charlottenburg Palace constructed at Lützow by Arnold Nehring: here, she lived independently from her spouse and had her own court. Her spouse was only allowed there by invitation, such as in 1699, when she hosted a birthday party for him there. From 1700, she regularly lived there in the summer months. She surrounded herself with philosophers and scientists and inspired the foundation of the Prussian Science academy. She was interested in music, sang and played the cembalo, had an Italian opera theater constructed, and employed the musicians Attilio Ariosti and Giovanni Battista Bononcini.
The palace was severely damaged in World War II, and rebuilt starting in the 1950’s.The dome seen in this ppicture is a rebuilt one.
Baroque style ceiling
The porcelain collection
for 98 Euros you can also go for an Evening at Charlottenburg Palace, with dinner, a self-guided palace tour and concert featuring the Berlin Residence Orchestra included. This tour is normally booked weeks in advance, so with a choice of four seating categories available, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment!
I had even carried a silk suit to wear as a guest of the palace at the concert but was unable to attend it du to shortage of time.
But I would advise those who like music to book in advance and attend it
On the way to CharlottenBurg Schloss we passed by Schloss Bellevue which was built for a Prussian prince, a German architectural first. Today it is the official residence of the German president.
The Victory Column is a very tall structure located in the middle of Berlin’s Tiergarten, constructed between 1871 and 1873 to celebrate Germany’s victory over France in the 1870/71 Franco-Prussian War.
It is 66 metres tall and is crowned by a bronze statue of the goddess Victoria.
Originally the column was placed directly in front of the Reichstag and was moved by the Nazi government in 1939 to its current location as part of their plans to extensively redevelop the centre of Berlin. At the same time the column was heightened by about 7.5 metres.
The Tier park ran alongside the roads which our bus took to CharlottenBurg Palace and it’s worth a visit. I spent one quiet evening there with Saif talking about “shoes and sghips and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.”
The bus takes us to the antique market after Charlotten Schloss. I did not get down and only indulged in some window shopping.
For one day we had packed in quite a bit and decided to call it a day.
Of course we went out for dinner to Alexanderplatz.
My problem as a vegetarian is that I normally ended up eating only Felafel sandwiches at Doner shops.
After the 2nd World war , Turks were brought to help rebuild Berlin and they have a huge presence there. For those who like me want helal food, the Doners are always helal