My husband and I were in Berlin for a few days. Initially, I thought that the city was still moaning about WWII, but to my surprise, it is a bristling city, really worth a visit.
The first day, we were at the IFA Berlin 2013. For more information, check the website. The second day, we went downtown as a tourist and took one of the Berlin City Tours. We started from the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Tower). We have seen the Kurfurstendamm (Ku’damm, as the Berliners call it), the Unter den Linden, Reichstag, the Presidential Palace and so on. The taped tour guide was very interesting and the English version was very funny. A lot of little facts about the city were told.
The beauty of the Brandenburger Tor lies in the details. Berlin has a somewhat obscure, but rich history. This can be seen from several buildings that were not bombed to the ground by the Russians, or that were rebuilt after the war. Both the old Prussian buildings as the ‘normal’ buildings are either beautifully designed, or have had a nice artistic touch by the enormous wall paintings on the dull grey sides of them, or the paintings people made on the west side of the old Berlin Wall.
What else we saw.
We (or rather, I) had to see Checkpoint Charlie, which was on the bus route. It is a shame that this is relocated to a busy shopping street. It is just… out of place. I do not even know if the ‘soldiers’ standing there are really US-people, or rather Berliners who are re-enacting the situation around the checkpoint, although I suspect the latter. It was a bit of a disappointment. The uniforms were clean, but unkempt, they wore sneakers instead of army boots and they did not have a ‘soldier attitude’.
I really would recommend Berlin. Do not expect that it is a relic from the past. It is bristling and lively, the people in general are friendly and most employees in the touristic center can speak English (if you cannot speak German). For shoppers, it is a true Paradise, so take a credit card. Public transport is wel arranged, take the U-Bahn, S-Bahn or M-Bahn and you will get everywhere you need. Getting there is no problem with a huge Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and two airports.
Driving in Berlin is no fun, like in any other city, but the highways (Autobahn) leading towards the city are good to drive, albeit stay on the right lanes as much as possible; Germany has several highways where there is no speed limit at all and being overtaken by a car driving 250 k/hr or higher is very possible. Just make sure you do not exceed the speed limit where one is set.
Berlin, a true surprise.