Berlin: The wall in the fall
One of the major European cities! known for its lively nightlife and forward thinking inhabitants, not to mention the post world war history. Berlin has always been one of those places where I thought "Oh ill go there at some point" but never quite get round to it. I found myself with a some midweek days off, in October. I decided to look at going for a city break to an inland city in Europe, so to avoid the higher prices of coastal destinations with the draw of late autumn sunshine.
In Berlin, i found a city full of history, some of which I had a limited knowledge about and some I had no knowledge about. I found the people friendly and helpful, which isn't as common as you would hope for in major cities. Berlin gives the feeling of a young a vibrant city, very progressive and forward thinking, and perhaps this ties into the history. The Berliners seemed to have made an extra effort to learn from the past and have made a promise to never make the same mistakes, by creating monuments and museums to educate tourists and future generations .
As i sometimes do, i was simply browsing for destinations. I had a search on Skyscanner.com for what cheap flights where available. I simply searched 'any destination' and tried this from different airports near me so to get the cheapest possible flights. I stumbled upon a £55 return flight to Berlin Schonefeld airport. I often browse Skyscanner.com for flights as it is the go to comparison website for flights, and can often stumble on some real gems.
To get to the airport I drove, and paid for parking which was £40 for the 3 days and was only a 10 min walk to the airport entrance. While in Berlin airport I paid €20 for the Berlin welcome card! This was a ticket for unlimited use of the trains, trams and busses of Berlin and included a map and book of attractions. This saved me money on the use of the city transport and hassle of constantly buying tickets. After all who wants to be wasting time during a quick city break. This city card also provided discounts for all the museums and attractions in Berlin.
For this I used Booking.com. I always use the map tool when searching, to make sure I'm in the location nearest the things i want to see or do. I found Club lodges Berlin Mitte. The Club lodges are an array of beach hut style buildings, and these are placed in a huge beach complex the size of 4 football pitches, which comprises of countless volleyball courts, a beach bar with plenty of outside seating and a huge Go Ape style wooden tower that kids and adults alike can have fun. No doubt you are thinking this would be great for summer, and yes i agree 100%. lucky enough for me i had the autumn prices and the weather of summer, as it was above 22 degrees all three days of my trip. Gotta love that unpredictable European weather!
Probably the most famous/infamous part of Berlin history, and I was surprised how little I knew about it, the post world war II history, the creation of the wall, the tensions around the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. I was massively impressed with effort and creativity gone into keeping the memory of the wall, and using it as a way of learning from mistakes and to show how far they have come as a city/country. They have done this by having numerous monuments along the length of the wall, using metal pillars to show the wall, preserving a section of the wall, fully intact with the no mans land and watch towers. In particular you must see the beautiful east side monument which is sections of the wall with graffiti on it with a "hope" theme.
Check point Charlie
This was a part of Berlin that I was un aware of, and also not realising that i had seen it in movies such as A Bridge of spies, or Octopussy. The check point was a crossing point between west and east Berlin during the cold war, and is still preserved in the middle of a major road through the centre of Berlin. A quite surprising image of an old cold war check point with guards dressed in American army uniform, hundreds of tourists taking photos, all while the busy traffic that is driving past, are getting on with their day. There are two small museums in the vicinity of the check point, both explaining more history of the wall, the the check point and the general history of Berlin from the world wars up until the felling of the wall.
one of the most iconic structures in Europe, a gateway into Berlin, built during 1788-1791. This building has seen a lot of history and major historical events such as the napoleonic wars, world wars and cold war. Im sure most of you will have seen the images of the Brandenburg gate in the second world war, crumbling due to bombs but still standing.
In the centre of Berlin there is an island of museums, art, German history, Egyptian history and such. These museums, are inside beautiful old buildings the pre date the world wars, and these definitely made me wonder about, and learn about the artistic and cultural side to Germany that you never do seem to learn. I also made a visit to the natural history museum which is home to the largest complete skeleton of a dinosaur. These museums are included in the discount provided by the Berlin card.
Other notable sights
The most imposing sight you will see when you arrive in Berlin is the TV tower Berliner Fernsehturm, which stands at a whopping 368m and can be seen from all over Berlin.
The memorial to the murdered jews of Europe, is a large and emotive monument near the Brandenburg gate. A large area of different size concrete blocks on changing levels, it has an underground section, and in this has the names of 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims.
Berlin has a super exciting and sometimes wild nightlife, some of the best techno and electronic clubs in Europe. Berlin has somewhere for everyone, higher end cocktail and wine bars, late night clubs, bars for watching football or bars to chill out. There is definitely a relaxed feel to the nightlife, everyone i came across was friendly and in good spirits. It does help get them onside by attempting to speak German, no matter how feeble the attempt.