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;
6pm – Take train from Schonefeld Airport and explore the hotel neighbourhood for somewhere quick and easy to eat.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
You may also enjoy my articles;
Postcard from Berlin