Social icons

Thursday, 29 August 2013

BERLIN | AN URBAN JUNGLE

Firstly, I would just like to apologise for how long it has taken me to finish this blog post! I didn't want to rush it, I wanted to do it properly and I have been so busy, but finally, it is here...



This was my third trip to the city of Berlin and it is just one of my favourite places. The first time I visited was on a history trip with my school which was amazing, the second time was with my university fashion course where I saw totally different things and finally I went for 10 days in July with my boyfriend!


We decided to go to Berlin because we didn't want to go too far from home and needed to stick to a bit of a budget. I believe the accommodation in Berlin is one of the cheapest in European capital cities. My boyfriend had also never had the opportunity to visit, he is into his history and we wanted to go somewhere a little different. It has such a rich history and I feel you could wander around all day and keep discovering little gems off the beaten track. The people set their own trends, they are uber cool! People don't pester you in the streets and it isn't ever particularly busy. You will also notice coming from Britain to Berlin that they are ordered, for example they aren't pushy in queues and you will only catch the odd tourist crossing the road when there is no green light!


We stayed in the Andy Warhol art'otel in Berlin city centre west. It was a fascinating hotel if you like Andy Warhol and if you don't, it was a modern hotel in an amazing location! We were just a 5 minute walk from the Underground station, Uhlandstasse and less than 15 minutes to the major Zoologischer Garten Station. There was so much to do in this area with many bars and restaurants and the rest of the city is within easy reach on the fantastic public transport which, for those of you who don't know, uses an honesty policy, so make sure to be honest ;)



I'm not sure I can recommend visiting in the height of summer as it was so hot to be walking around sightseeing surrounded by concrete but I have been around Easter time and the weather was perfect or even in February when I went last year, it snowed one day which was beautiful and the rest of the stay it was reasonably warm.


We spent our first day wandering around the Kurfurstendamm area where we were staying and visited the zoo. It is hands down the most amazing zoo I have ever been to! There are so many animals to see, the way the enclosures are set up you can get really close and it is huge. You cannot believe you are surrounded by a capital city.   



There is also an aquarium in the zoo which has sharks, rays and a crazy amount of fish including Nemo and Dory, puffer fish, jellyfish and goldfish. You can buy a combined ticket for the zoo and the aquarium for a discount price. Upstairs in the aquarium is a reptile section and on another floor there are spiders and insects. It was scary how close you could get to the spiders :( haha!



Other things to see and do in the Kurfustendamm area include; Fasanenstrasse, Kantstrasse, Budapester Strasse, Europa-Centre, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche (the large church in the middle of Kurfustendamm) and Theatre des Westerns. It is also one of the best places for shopping with everything from Zara and H&M to Adidas Neo and Ka-De-We. Ka-De-We is an amazing department store which could be on par with the Galarie Lafayette in Paris! You could spend hours wandering around the different sections and trying samples in the food court. There are also little shops on the ground floor including Cartier, Chanel and Celine. 

Theatre des Westerns
Visual Merchandising in Ka-De-We
Kathe-Wohlfahrt Christmas Shop

Another shop in this area is Kathe Wohlfahrt which is basically a shop dedicated to everything Christmassy. It is like a Christmas dream for children young and old! An absolute must for anyone who visits Berlin.

One of our favourite places to eat and drink in the evening was in Savignyplatz. It is a gorgeous leafy square that comes alive at night. There are so many restaurants to choose from. Our favourite place to go for a drink which I would highly recommend was a cocktail bar called, GAINSBOURG Bar Americain. It was situated just off Ulhandstrasse underneath the overground. The cocktails were exquisite, the service fabulous and the atmosphere, just cool. You can read the Lonely Planet review I found when I got back here.  

On our second day we went into the Tiergarten and wandered around the little paths that snake through the trees. It is the most beautiful place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. In the middle of the park is the Victory Column. You can climb up the many steps to the top for just a couple of Euros and you get a spectacular view over the city. There are also these really cute strawberry stands selling fresh strawberries, yum!

Strawberry Stand
Victory Column
Tiergarten

 Another day we took the tube to Friedrichstasse, which is impressive in itself and walked along admiring the different stores to the Unter den Linden, at the bottom of which is the Brandenburg gate. Coincidentally, Mercedes-Benz Berlin Fashion Week was taking place just through the gate while we were there so we spent some time taking in all the different styles and German celebrities making appearances. Pariser Platz also houses the Russian Embassy and the Hotel Adlon which has played host to many famous faces.

Brandenburger Tor
Berlin Fashion Week

Also in this area, on Friedrichstrasse is the only Galarie Lafayette outside of France. The interior is architecturally aesthetically pleasing and the products are the usual high end department store lovelies.



Behind Galerie Lafayette are the Deutscher Dom and the Franzosicher Dom which are 2 very similar but still very impressive cathedrals set in the middle of a pretty square. At the bottom end of the Unter den Linden are many more sights including; the Equestrian Statue of Fredrick the Great, State Library, German Guggenheim, Alte Palais, St Hedwigs cathedral and the State Opera House. Worth a visit is the German History Museum which is packed with information but takes a lot of reading!

The Kreuzberg area has some very interesting museums including the Topographie des Terrors. This is a free museum which is located on the site of the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS during the Nazi regime. The permanent exhibitions depict the journey of the Nazi party and the crimes that were committed, although it is not very interactive with a lot to read, it is well worth the time. Another museum in this area is the Checkpoint Charlie museum. It is also well worth a visit however we didn't go this time as it is one of the most expensive museums we came across (I had also been on my history trip).


Checkpoint Charlie

One of my favourite places to visit in Berlin is the German Technical Museum. It covers all aspects from media and textiles to transport and breweries and it is very interactive ;)


During the middle of our stay we booked an appointment to visit the Reichstag (or the Bundestag I believe it is now called?). You can't visit without booking an appointment so be warned. It is free however and you get a fantastic free audio guide and spectacular views over the city and the Tiergarten. The Holocaust Memorial is just a short walk from the Reichstag and something rather different to see. We also looked for the remains of Hitler's bunker which is now a carpark but we had no luck. Let me know if you know where it it please :)
  
Inside the dome in the Reichstag
Holocaust Memorial


From there we went to the Natural History Museum which I have never been to before, not even in London! It holds the World Record for the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world, an exhibition on the cosmos and the solar system and a room with an exhibition called the Wet Collections. It felt like I was in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic from Harry Potter!



Another must for a visit to Berlin is Alexanderplatz and the surrounding area. The Berliner Fernsehturm (Television Tower) is one of the most popular attractions in the city and costs 12.50/11 Euros. You get an amazing 360 degree, uninterrupted view of the city. In the same square is the Neptunbrunnen fountain which is fun and the Berlin City Hall. Nearby there is a large shopping centre called ALEXA and of course, how could I resist a Dunkin' Donuts!?



East of Alexanderplatz, towards the Unter den Linden is the DDR museum which is incredible. It is situated right on the river Spree and shows the everyday life of people living in the GDR. It is so interactive and completely fascinated me. Just aross the river is Museum Island where the buildings are beautiful. There are a couple of museums and the Berliner Dom which is the largest church in the city and is the heart of the Protestant church of Germany.


Other places we went to see were Potsdamer Platz, Prenzlauer Berg and the Olympic Stadium. The Ritz is located in Potsdamer Platz where, if you can't afford to stay there you can always get a drink... ;) Next to the Ritz is the Sony Centre which has a selection of shops, restaurants, offices, hotels, art and film museums and a mini legoland. There is also an IMAX theatre which plays films in English, sometimes without subtitles! Prenzlauer Berg is lovely to wander around and stumble across an array of shops including vintage and record stores.

The Sony Centre
The Sony Centre

The Olympic Stadium is an easy train ride out of the city centre and I would say impressive. Unfortunately they have started charging to visit the inside so we decided not to pay but just took a picture from the outside instead.

Robert has his eyes closed :O

On our final day we took the train out to Potsdam which is just lush. If you have the time, the palaces are absolutely beautiful and they are set in a park which is just as beautiful. It is a long walk in the heat from the station but worth it all the same.


Park Entrance
Sanssouci Palace 

While we were staying in Kurfurstendamm there was a parade where people wore traditional dress and showed off their wind up musical boxes, they closed off the main road to cars and there were lots of market stalls in the square. The Hard Rock Cafe is also situated in this area and we couldn't resist a meal here but our favourite place to eat was on Kantstrasse called Wiener Beisl. We sat outside and the place really felt traditional. We tried interesting dishes and both the food and beer were delicious.


Overall, we had the most amazing time. We both absolutely love Berlin and Rob has already decided he wants to live there! Does anyone else love Berlin? Do you have any hints or tips for visiting? 

Thank you for reading! 

 

Search The Wonder of Style