Tuesday, 4 August 2009

November in Berlin

Though we leave in a few days for the Adriatic coast on the other side of Italy, it sounds far but in fact it is only 2 hrs away from Rome, we are already thinking about our next trip, a long weekend in Berlin in November.
We have been going to Berlin since 1999 and we should have been going more often. An incredible city, reborn from it's dark past in the 20th Century. I am sorry that most people can only think of Berlin as the city where Hitler ruled or where the Wall stood. This fascination with the 12 years of the Nazi dictatorship is silly and does not in anyway tell the story of this city which is more than 800 years old. Luckily the Government of Germany and of the City of Berlin have recast the city as the model it was during the baroque period and the age of Enlightenment, a liberal city, open to all, a city of ideas and since 1989, of architects from around the world who have been able to develop new forms of architecture and renovate and rebuild old buildings while conserving the traces of past conflicts. Berlin is a city of opera houses, concert halls, theaters, museums and art galleries, fine restaurants and rivers, lakes and parks, not to mention the excellent public transport system.

In October the last of the museums on the Island beside the Protestant Cathedral will re-open after many long years of extensive rebuilding and renovation by David Chipperfield. The Neues Museum which was built in 1855 on a neo-classical design by Friedrich A. Stüler to house part of the vast collections in the other Museums like the Altes Museum. This collection of museums all gathered together has impressive art collections and is a wonder to visit. I have seen through the years the resurrection of this complex and of the Cathedral. In the years to come the gigantic Imperial City Palace will also be rebuilt to complete the design of the whole area. The Second World War devastated 80% of Berlin and if tourists want to know what the Nazi legacy was, then they can see it in the massive destruction of this beautiful city.

I wish I could live in Berlin, it is such a fun place and full of energy. So much to do and see, so many beautiful parks and Berlin unlike so many other German cities, has a character all its own and a way of thinking and being which is unlike any other place in Germany. The Berliners are different, Frederick II the Great, distrusted them and found them to be lazy and bohemian. Then again he is the one who invited Jews and French Protestants to come and live in Berlin and enjoy a level of freedom unknown elsewhere in Europe at the time and in turn this attracted artists and philosophers like Voltaire to the City.

I looked at hotels and found in the Mitte area (centre) a good hotel at 115 euros per night with breakfast included. I usually like to stay in the Western part of the city near the Zoo, the KaDeWe store on the Kurfürstendamm but this time decided to be more on the East side near the historical part of old Berlin and Unter den Liden.

Now I have to look at flights and Easy Jet has some good rates, though I did notice that they then charge for everything else.
In the end the price is still cheap compared to other airlines.

Another city we also love to see again is Dresden and Will and I have plans to return there.


  1. I lived in Berlin 1998-99 and it was absolutely AMAZING. You are right that this city is unlike any other in DE. I love how it is a massive metropolis yet there is so much nature available (Spree River, Tiergarten, etc). My work at that time was just opposite the Bode Museum on Museum Island! Literally 10 steps away.

    I lived in the East amidst bohemenians, artists, musicians, etc. You should stay in the East for this trip! That's where everything is happening! All the new developments, construction, cool bars/restaurants/cafes are in the East!

  2. Prenzlauerberg, my old neighborhood, is THE place to be. So much life there at night...people at restaurants, cafes, bars... it has changed a lot since I left 10yrs ago. When I was there last month, the area felt like some city in southern Europe with so much life, culture, and food.

  3. Well we are sure to avail ourselves of all that Berlin has to offer. I am looking forward to this trip.

  4. oh wow... I stayed in Berlin for a month at Potsdamer Platz... it really brings back memories! I hope you have a good trip.. and yes that was fast planning after returning from Athens :)

    Agree with what you say about Berlin rebuilding from its dark past.