Short weekend in Berlin (pt.I)
Berlin, Berlin..it was nice to meet you, hope to see you again! In a nutshell, that’s what I could write about our short weekend in Berlin. However, I decided to tell you all about our Berlin trip at the beginning of April so read on 🙂.
We had our very cheap flight for Berlin on Friday afternoon and after a couple of initial hiccups (the late departure, the long queue at the passport control and the long wait for the overcrowded airport bus) we finally arrived to the city center. For some unknown reason our airport bus stopped near the Brandenburg Gate and we had to find a different way of getting to the Alexanderplatz square. While we were already near the Brandenburg Gate we decided to have a look at it and to see the nearby Reichstag building too (parliament) even though that was planned for Saturday morning.
There were a lot of people waiting in front of the luxury Hotel Adlon at the Pariser platz (maybe there was some celebrity about to arrive/leave) but we didn’t see the reason for all that commotion. You can find many embassies at and around Pariser platz as well as the symbol of Berlin and Germany- the Brandenburg Gate. It was built in 18th century in neoclassical style at the site of the former historical city gate and it was named after the town of Brandenburg an der Havel because the road from Berlin to Brandenburg started here. At the top of the Brandenburg Tor you can see the Quadriga statue (a chariot drawn by four horses). After WWII and the division of Germany by the allies the Brandenburg gate was inaccessible to the locals so when the Berlin Wall finally fell in 1989 everyone gathered there to celebrate the unification of the country.
It was difficult to take decent photos of the Brandenburg Gate because the sun shone right through the monumental gates. When you cross the road behind the gate you’ll notice a line of bricks on the road representing the former Berlin Wall which divided Berlin in half, the East and the West Berlin. We walked to the Reichstag building (the seat of the German parliament ) with its modern glass dome built by Norman Foster. You can climb up the dome and the roof of the Reichstag but you have to book your visit in advance. Since we only had 30 hours to explore Berlin (we arrived late afternoon on Friday and our return flight was at 6.30am Sunday) we decided to see our choice of the major landmarks just from the outside.
There’s a sort of an empty field in front of the Reichstag which to me just didn’t look right. There should be some flowers or some sculptures. But there are some nice modern buildings on the left side of the parliament and the river Spree. There was a sightseeing boat cruising on the river and I wanted to go on one but there was just not enough time for that.
It was time to make our way to my husband’s cousin so we went back to the bus stop where the airport bus dropped us off and waited for bus 100 which goes to the Alexanderplatz from where we planned to take the underground. We waited and waited but the bus didn’t come so we decided to walk to the nearest underground station (which wasn’t that near after all). In hindsight, perhaps it would have been quicker if we just walked down the Unter der Linden street from the Brandenburg Gate to the Alexanderplatz. It seems that the construction business is blooming in Berlin because there were construction works and cranes everywhere. Finally, we came to the underground station near the French department store Lafayette and went to my husband’s cousin’s house.
After some rest and chit-chat with our hosts in Berlin my husband and I went out for a dinner in the neighbourhood we were staying. My husband was keen to try some German food and beer so we listened to our hosts’ advice and went to the Schankhalle Pfefferberg restaurant which also has its own brewery. There’s also the Pfefferberg theatre at the site. We really enjoyed our German meal.
Nourished and rested enough we took the U-Bahn (underground) to the Alexanderplatz square which was once the center of the East Berlin and now a sprawling modern square and a transport hub. There are many shops and department stores here as well as several major Berlin’s tourist attractions. One of the biggest attractions is for sure the TV tower (Fernsehturm) which can be seen from almost any point in Berlin since it’s the tallest structure in whole of Germany (368 m). Of course, Alexanderplatzt was appropriately lit up and we wandered around it for a while. We also saw the Red City Hall and the dome of the Berlin cathedral. It was getting late so we headed back to the flat for some sleep.
By the end of the day I felt tired but happy. I was a bit apprehensive about flying pregnant ( I was 18 weeks pregnant with our second baby at the time of this trip) but I didn’t feel any different and everything went well. Our first day in Berlin was great.
Stay tuned for more Berlin posts🙂