As you may have seen, a few weeks ago I spent 24 hours in Berlin. I arrived at the hotel at around 12pm on the Sunday and had to start to make my way to the airport at 1pm on the Monday. As the trip was organised by the Chamäleon Theatre, there were plans already in place for us on the Sunday which included watching Scotch & Soda and lunch at Ki-Nova. The few hours that I had on Monday morning were my chance to really explore the city, so I wanted to make sure that I didn’t waste a minute and I crammed in as much as I could.
I had a very early flight on Sunday morning from Gatwick airport. Luckily, Kariss and her lovely boyfriend let me stay on their sofa but it meant that I had to leave their flat at 3:30am to get a train from Clapham Junction. I slept throughout the whole flight which was only around an hour and twenty minutes, but I was still pretty tired by the time we arrived in to Berlin Schönefeld airport, had picked up our Welcome Berlin cards and caught the train over to Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station which was where our amazing hotel was situated. The hotel was so brilliant that it’s going to get its own post as I could talk about it for days.
Once we’d checked into our hotel (25 Hours Hotel) and quickly freshened up, we caught a bus over to the restaurant which was next to the Sony Centre and we used our Welcome Berlin cards to travel. These were really handy as they covered buses, the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn (underground and overground trains) and could also be used to get discounted entry into various museums. The restaurant we went to for lunch, Ki-Nova focusses on healthy eating and serves a selection of superfoods, salads and curries. We were brought out a selection of falafel and dips to start and then a sweet potato curry although I opted for a burger as I’m not a vegetable lover.
Once we’d finished having lunch, we had a spare hour or so before we were due at the theatre, so we decided that the best thing to do would be to walk there and take in as many sights as possible. This was definitely the best idea as the weather was great and we managed to see a lot of the city including some of the Berlin Wall.
The two things that I wanted to see on my trip to Berlin were the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Holocaust Memorial; luckily both of these were on our way to the theatre. The Holocaust Memorial or the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) was just breathtaking, I didn’t realise how big it actually was, it is made up of 2,711 concrete slabs. As we were walking around, everything was very calm and there was an almost eerie atmosphere. I would have loved to have gone into the underground visitor’s centre but we didn’t have time.
Our next stop was the Brandenburg Gate which is perhaps the most famous landmark in Berlin. Again, this was bigger than I initially thought it would be but it was beautiful and I’m so glad I finally got to see it. There were a lot of people taking photos of it, so of course we joined in and we each had our photo taken in front of it. Before we walked over to the Brandenburg Gate, I actually managed to get a photo of it behind the Holocaust Memorial along with the Reichstag which I think made a great photo – three Berlin landmarks in one!
Our walk to the Chamäleon took us past the Berliner Dom (Berlin’s cathedral) and past all of the museums on Museum Island. I desperately wanted to visit a few of the museums, especially Neues Museum to see the large Egyptology collection but we didn’t have enough time, so I’m going to make sure I get that in on my next visit to Berlin. We were so lucky with the weather on that Sunday and we got to see a lot of Berlin by foot which was great even though we turned up at the theatre a little later than expected. After the show, I headed back to the hotel on my own as I was so exhausted from the early start and wanted to be up early enough the next day to make the most of the few hours that I had left in Berlin.
On Monday morning I woke up at 7am and packed everything up before I went up to the tenth floor for breakfast. I then had a wander of the local area, took a few photos (I hadn’t noticed the fountain the day before!) and had a look in a couple of shops. I managed to get myself some souvenirs from a shop opposite the hotel, I got a piece of the Berlin Wall and two enamel pin badges to add to my collection. I then went back to the hotel to check out and get my suitcase before going on a bus tour as they all started at 10am.
I’d already found the bus tour that I wanted to do when I was having a wander round earlier on, so I headed over the road to the stop which was opposite the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial Church and bought my ticket from the booth. With my Welcome Berlin card I got a discount of around €5 so the ticket only cost me €16. This was a 24 hour ticket as it was a hop on, hop off bus tour although unfortunately, I wasn’t going to have time to stop off anywhere. I had a look at the map that I was given when I first got on the bus and decided that to get to the airport in plenty of time, I would need to get off when the bus stopped at the Victory Column.
Luckily, I was able to see most of the city’s sights including Checkpoint Charlie, The Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, the different embassies, Alexanderplatz, Hauptbahnhof Central Station and Potsdamer Platz and listen to the bus’s audioguide at the same time, so I learnt a lot more about the city. It was a scorching 18 degrees in Berlin that day, so the open top bus was lovely and I was able to get some nice photos of the tops of some of the buildings (that’s the only annoying thing about a bus tour, you can’t really take photos through the windows due to the reflections!) When it was time to get off, I was really disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing, but I will definitely be going back again.
I took a few photos around the Victory Column before I headed off to the nearest U-Bahn station where I got on the train for one stop and then got a bus to Berlin Tegel Airport. I ended up being really early for my flight as Tegel is the tiniest airport I’ve ever been to and there wasn’t really any security checks apart from my case being scanned – I’m not sure if this was because I was flying to the same country (I had to fly to Düsseldorf and then get on another plane to Birmingham) or if Germany is just not as strict on hand luggage as other countries! When I finally landed back in Birmingham, I was exhausted after 3 flights, 5 airports and just 24 hours in Berlin but I’m now desperate to go back.