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Our 36 hours in Berlin

Fresh back from Berlin I’m reflecting on how best to plan a 3 day trip like ours, as things never quite go to plan.

I’m the sort of gal that takes pleasure in the planning as part of the anticipation for the trip. I’d hate to think I’d missed out on something wonderful just because I hadn’t taken the time to do a little research. For instance my planning took account of the fact that most shops are closed on a Sundays and most museums are closed on Mondays (although neither of those facts is 100% true).

On the other hand I’ve also learned that much of the pleasure comes from the unexpected things and experiences that you come upon if you’re prepared to wander a little, and go with the flow. My motto now is start with a plan then throw it out the window if the occasion demands.

Here’s the 36 hour itinerary that I planned and how things worked out in reality;

Fabisch restaurant at the Circus Hotel in Berlin

Fabisch restaurant at the Circus Hotel in Berlin

Saturday Evening
The Plan
6pm – Take train from Schonefeld Airport and explore the hotel neighbourhood for somewhere quick and easy to eat.

The Reality
6pm – Took train from Schonefeld Airport – easy and painless journey.
8pm – Once settled into our hotel we decided to eat at the Fabisch restaurant in our hotel, The Circus Hotel. The food was excellent and not too expensive and it was a relaxing start to our stay.

Sunday
The Plan

Anne Frank museum in Berlin

Anne Frank museum in Berlin

Morning – The Reichstag dome, Brandenburg Gate and Holocaust Memorial then work our way down towards Potsdamer Platz for lunch (thinking shops there would be shut).
Afternoon – Walk up Unter den Linden towards Museumsinsel to visit the Pergamon Museum (which would be shut on Monday)

The Reality
10.30am – Walked down Rosenhaler Strasse and got waylayed at the Anne Frank Museum. The girls were performing in a school play about Anne Frank and so we spent an hour or so there.
12am – Stopped for refuelling of Haagen Dazs ice cream in Hackescher Markt.

Sightseeing by rickshaw in Berlin

Sightseeing by rickshaw in Berlin

12.30am – Walked on towards Museumsinsel. The queue was too long for the Pergamon Museum so we strolled through a delightful weekend street market towards Unter den Linden where the Berlin Half Marathon was underway.
1pm – Feeling a little footsore we decided to take a rickshaw tour taking in Unter den Linden, Gendarmenmarkt, Checkpoint Charlie and ending up at the Brandenburg gate. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip and one which I couldn’t have planned for.
1.30pm – After the obligitary photo opportunity at the Brandenburg Gate we walked to see the Holocaust Memorial nearby and then ended up at Potsdamer Platz.
2pm – Stop for photo opportunities at the bits of the Berlin Wall outside Potsdamer Platz and spent a couple of Euros having our ‘Visas’ stamped by the actors dressed up as East German guards (cheesy but fun)

Getting our passports stamped at Potsdamer Platz

Getting our passports stamped at Potsdamer Platz

2.30pm After a lunch in a bagel cafe within the Arkaden we spent a couple of hours shopping (all the shops open on Sunday)
4.30pm – Bought some provisions for supper and took a quick look at the Sony Centre then made our way home by train.
7pm – Ate in our apartment and watched a DVD set in Berlin, Run Lola Run, thoughtfully provided by the Circus Hotel.

Monday
The Plan
Morning – Hire bikes near the Tiergarten and cycle through the Tiergarten along the River Spree to Schloss Charlottenburg to see the palace and maybe have lunch in the Orangery cafe (this was recommended by a friend who had visited Berlin with her daughter)
Afternoon – Shopping around Kurfürstendamm and see the beautiful blue glass at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church.

The Reichstag in Berlin

The Reichstag in Berlin

The Reality
11am – Arrived at the Reichstag to find the queue to see the dome was already 2 hrs long so gave it a miss.
11.30am – Took the Number 100 bus from outside the Reichstag and got a great view of the Tiergarten from the upper deck, then spent an hour or so at the Berlin Zoo.
1.30pm Crossed over the road to Kurfürstendamm to have lunch of crepes, Thai curry and Currywurst from the street vendors outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
2.pm – Sent the girls off shopping for a couple of hours on Kurfürstendamm while I reflected on the blue glass in the church then walked along to KaDeWe department store to explore the gourmet food floor and had a fruit smoothie for refreshment.

Fruit smoothies at KaDeWe department store in Berlin

Fruit smoothies at KaDeWe department store in Berlin

4pm – Took the Number 100 bus back to AlexanderPlatz where there was an Easter Market in progress, and we wandered around and ate some salmon cooked on a smoky wood fire while the girls snacked in Burger King (sad, I know). Took the train 2 stops back to our hotel
6pm – Met up with Berlin travel blogger, Jacinta Lodge, over Mojito cocktails at Circus Hotel and got some restaurant recommendations.
8pm – Went for dinner at Jacinta’s recommendation at White Trash Fast Food for burgers and live music served by men with tattoos in American Diner meets Chinese Kitch style.

Tuesday
The Plan
I had left this unplanned to cover any things we hadn’t had a chance to see, although I was hoping to get to see the street-art on the old Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery.

Kunsthaus Tacheles art warehouse in Berlin

Kunsthaus Tacheles art warehouse in Berlin

The Reality
10am – Walked to Hakesche Höfe for a wander round the design shops and tiled courtyards  – only a small diversion via H & M for clothes shopping.
12.30am – Stroll down Oranienburger Strasse to try and find Tacheles, a run down warehouse full of alternative artists hoping to take lunch in their cafe.
1pm – Practically expiring with hunger we stopped for pizza and pasta in the sunshine at a cheap but unremarkable Italian restaurant.
2pm – Continued by tram the couple of stops down Oranienburger Strasse to Tacheles and were glad we had made the effort. Left the girls to write postcards in a funky ground floor cafe/nightclub while I climbed the graffiti covered stairwell to look at the street art and took photos of the graffiti covered plane in the grassy wasteland at the back.

The Pergamon museum in Berlin

The Pergamon museum in Berlin

4pm – Got the tram back up Oranienburger Strasse to Museumsinsel where I was determined to get my cultural fix at the Pergamon Museum. Did the audioguide tour of the museum highlights which only took 30 mins as the girls were flagging.
5pm – Refuelled with Haagen Dazs icecream and walked back to our hotel for a relaxing last drink in the bar
6pm – left for the airport

Regrets – I wish I could have seen the Palace at Charlottenburg Schloss and East Side Gallery. I could also have done without the Berlin Zoo which was rather dowdy and disappointing.
Pleasures – The unexpected pleasures were the Rickshaw ride and Tacheles, which I hadn’t planned, and seeing the girls really absorbed in the Anne Frank Museum.
Conclusions – Depending on which neighbourhood you stay in you’ll probably have a completely different experience to ours but hopefully just as much fun.

If you’d like a few more ideas on how to plan a short trip to Berlin, try these newspaper articles;

Independent – 48 hrs in Berlin
Independent – 24 hrs in Berlin
Lonely Planet – my first 24 hrs in Berlin
New York Times – 36 hrs in Berlin

Check for the best hotel prices in Berlin and book here.

You may also enjoy my articles;
Postcard from Berlin

See all my Berlin photos on Flickr


www.flickr.com

 

heatheronhertravels' Berlin - Pergamon museum photoset heatheronhertravels’ Berlin – Pergamon museum photoset

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Gourmet Food Shipped To Your Door » Blog Archive » Our 36 hours in Berlin
    April 13, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    […] Here is the original post:  Our 36 hours in Berlin […]

  • Reply
    previously.bitten
    April 13, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    lets say you were not limited to that time – are there other things you would have done? Other places you’d have wanted to see? You list the “regrets” so, as I plan my trip, i’m wondering how long I should leave for this city.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    April 13, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    @ previously bitten
    There are so many places in Germany, Europe, The World to see, not to mention Berlin – how to fit them all in?

    I’d say that 3-4 days in Berlin and you’d get a good taste for it – there’s so much to see & do that we barely scratched the surface but at the end of the day it’s about the quality of the experience rather than the number of things we tick off the list.

    For hotels, I’d certainly recommend the Circus Hotel where we stayed & if I was on a tight budget I’d go to the Circus Hostel across the road which has an equally excellent reputation – they have en suite single rooms as well as dorms.

  • Reply
    Chris (Amateur Traveler)
    April 14, 2009 at 4:47 am

    The last time I was in Berlin was in the year right after the wall fell. I would love to get back there.

  • Reply
    jen laceda
    April 14, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I, too, love to plan as part of the pre-trip build up. But I’ve learned how NOT to stick to a plan to avoid disappointments (especially now that we have a toddler in tow). I think, sometimes, the best laid out plans don’t always turn out to be what we expected…but they are good guidelines anyway.

  • Reply
    Friday photo - Children at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin : Heather on her travels
    April 17, 2009 at 7:05 am

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    Friday photo - Children at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin @ Travel News Bureau
    April 18, 2009 at 7:03 am

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  • Reply
    laradunston
    April 19, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Got your msg – glad my post inspired you – thank you!

    This is such a great idea – comparing the reality to the plan – love it! I will definitely link to this!

  • Reply
    Budget boutique bliss at Circus Hotel in Berlin : Heather on her travels
    April 29, 2009 at 7:06 am

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    April 30, 2009 at 4:55 am

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    Mark (TravelWonders)
    May 4, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Found this via Lara’s post – what an entertaining post as a view on planned Berlin visit to a reality visit. Excellent post.

  • Reply
    Blue glass reflections at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church in Berlin : Heather on her travels
    May 5, 2009 at 8:34 pm

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    June 7, 2009 at 9:03 am

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  • Reply
    Iain
    July 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Nice article (I found it through your accompanying Circus Hotel blog) which interested me as I am staying there next week !

    Was a bit puzzled at first (36 hours in Berlin, Saturday night to Tuesday night ?? ) but figured out what you meant !…

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    July 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    @Iain
    Hope you enjoy your stay at Circus as much as we did – perhaps you could drop back by and let me know if it lived up to expectations. The staff are super-friendly.

    Have fun in Berlin!

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    Sean mit günstige Hotels Berlin
    August 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I love it… Please give me more of it :D!!!
    Sean mit günstige Hotels Berlin´s last blog post ..Die Berliner Fashionweek – Enorme Umsätze für günstige Hotels

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    […] this one)… well Heather on her Travels has undertaken an interesting experiment, posting a ‘36 hours in Berlin’ itinerary with a difference. It concludes the itinerary she planned before she went to Berlin and what she […]

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  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    February 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I’m heading to Berlin for my first time this spring – very excited to read about your experiences there!
    Sherry Ott´s last blog post ..Terelj Park Mongolia – Photo of the Week

    • Reply
      Heather
      February 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      @Sherry I feel sure you’ll enjoy Berlin – I’m looking forward to a photo essay from you on all the street art

  • Reply
    daniel
    September 5, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Appreciated a great deal of reading your blog on Berlin 36 hrs. including the pictures. I was surfing the web after reading something about Berlin in today’s Wall Street Journal. I was intrigued by the story in the Journal because we’re planning a group trip in May 2013 central Europe, and Berlin is one of the main stopover point. Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    Heather
    September 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    @Daniel Berlin really has soul and there’s so much to see – I’m sure you’ll have a really great time

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