The first stop for us during our Germany trip was Berlin. Berlin is a stunning, international, modern cosmopolitan city. While I absolutely adored Berlin, if you are going to Germany for pretzels and cute stone houses, Berlin will be a disappointment. It is a city rife with history and beauty, but thoroughly 21st century. That said, I absolutely adored my two and a half days in Berlin.
We had one and half day on our own, then one day with our tour group. You can read a general description of the tour here.
We arrived mid-afternoon in Berlin. We stayed at the Abba Berlin Hotel, which was fabulous. Best. Breakfast. Ever. Seriously. Nice and clean location, which helpful staff and right on the metro line.
After checking into out hotel, we took a quick nap. Actually, we were desperately on the phone with our bank because the atm declined our card. It ended up being a glitch, but was stressful for a few hours.
On a brighter note, my husband and I had gifted my inlaws an experience gift for Christmas this year. We got them a three course dinner paired with a concert in downtown Berlin at the French cathedral. It was so romantic and beautiful. The jet lag was a bit of a problem since we all struggled with nodding off, but was still worth it.
The dinner was divine.
The venue was lovely.
But more than that, check out the beautiful Christmas market outside the cathedral. For those wanting to check it out, it was Gendarmenmarkt.
I mean can anything be more beautiful than this??!!?
The next morning, I put my little group of fellow travelers through the ringer in terms of just packing all we could into seeing Berlin. We started by walking to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was actually closed, but we managed to pop by the next day. It was a beautiful and quick stop that spoke boldly to the realities of war on a city.
There was a modern aspect that was currently used as a church, while next door was the remains of a bombed out church.
We then took a bus to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews. It was abstract, but incredibly powerful. The abstractness lead to some wonderful conversations between my fellow travelers about the impact of the memorial and how it reflected on the murder of the Jewish people.
From there we walked to Bebelplatz to see the memorial to the burned books and enjoy the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral. This was a lovely walk, but generally a dud stop. The memorial was fogged over so we couldn’t see it and the cathedral was having mass, so we could not visit it.
Next venture was to walk to Museum Island were we had lunch at the most mediocre pizza joint you could imagine. Thankfully, we were right next to the DDR museum, which was a museum dedicated to life in Communist Berlin. Guys, this was such a fun and informative museum. I learned an incredible amount, plus it was completely interactive. It was a huge hit with everyone in our group.
In the same area was the Berlin Cathedral. This is absolutely a must-do while you are in Berlin. The cost was reasonable and the Cathedral is lovely.
However, one of the best parts was the view from the top of the Cathedral. It was a hell of a walk to get up there, especially in all our winter gear, but the view was worth every step.
Plus, we took all these cute pictures by the Cathedral. After all, Berlin is a great place to be in love.
We felt that we needed to see one of the famous Berlin museums so we went to tour neus museum. It was not a good choice and you can totally skip this one. The layout was poor and I found it very dated for its reputation.
That night we took in the Alexanderplatz Christmas market. It was a nice market, very family friendly and crowded, but had a lovely skating rink.
The next day, we took a driving tour of Berlin, where the highlight for me was the Brandenburg Gate.
It was even more beautiful at night.
There was a quick stop at Checkpoint Charlie. Can I just say that I love the irony of KFC being right there?
The Topography of Terror was our next stop. It was an outdoor and indoor exhibition located on the former site of the Gestapo Headquarters. Again, very informative museum on WWII history.
While in Berlin, wandering down to the east side gallery is another highly recommended stop. It grew up organically and for an art lover, it was spectacular.
One of the best parts about being in Germany was hanging out in bars with my friends and drinking massive amounts of German beer.
That night, we went to the Christmas market that was close to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was tiny, but absolutely charming. It did close very early.
In summary, we loved Berlin and highly recommend it. Let me know if you have any questions!