Berlin Took our Breath Away
Chatting with Ivan Yates on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder July 17th 2019
Listen back here https://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/travel-thursday
Berlin with a fascinating history that has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the second world war and the damage of the cold war to become the hippest capital that makes the perfect city break with a teenager. With just under 4 million population it is the second largest city in Europe. Check out the https://www.visitberlin.de/en website before you travel to see what is going on over the coming months.
How to get there?
Direct flights daily with Ryanair to Schonfeld in the south East of the city and to Tegel airport in the west of the city with Aer Lingus.
Lead in price with Ryanair €24.99 for August and September to Schonfeld Airport
Lead in €45 with Aer Lingus for August and September to Tegel Airport
Who to bring and how to get around?
With the leaving cert complete and summer well under way the timing was perfect for a city break with my son, Mark. Neither of us having been before I was pleasantly surprised by the easy airport transfer after purchasing our
The s train runs in a line along the river spree and is the most rapid way to get around the major neighborhoods, the u is the underground and fills in any gaps that are not also covered by the bus and tram
A one day card is €7 for unlimited travel around the city. Validated after first use and you’re good to go for the rest of the day.
Where to stay?
Our base was at the Lindner Am Ku’damm Hotel situated near the zoological gardens in the stylish kurfürstendamm Straße with designer shops and some trendy bars lining the thoroughfare and centre of what was once West Berlin. They do a great breakfast that set us up for the day and although we were overlooking a busy thoroughfare we slept like babies in the noise proof rooms. Lead in Price The price range begins at 89 Euro. An average price for a room for two including breakfast is 149 Euro. check out their website and other hotels in Köln, Dusseldorf and many more German cities.
Close by at night are some really cool bars and restaurants but a jazz club about 100 meters walk away is great for music lovers –
Monkey Bar is one of the coolest city bars for sundowners and to watch the city from a height – Close to the Bikini shopping complex and overlooking the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church the cocktail menu has specials such as the BINI which is named after the oldest orang-utan in the zoo below. Do go early or you will be queuing to get in and my boy loved the vibe with resident DJ in this place.https://www.monkeybarberlin.de/
What to eat and drink? Curry wurst seems to be the most popular snack food in Berlin – it’s a sausage with curry powder mixed with tomato sauce – again young people love them. The schnitzel is a favourite on traditional pub menus and German restaurants – lots of restaurants dotted around the city – north of Kulturbraurei in what was east Berlin is where really cheap Asian restaurants are good for young people. We picked up lunch that included two pasta carbonara and a beer for €13. Compared to €60 for lunch on Ku’damm Strasse at the hotel Bristol at Reinhards on Ku’damm Strasse but both were delicious. Some barges have been turned into trendy bars and restaurants along the canals it’s easy to find something to suit all tastes. If you really want to get a taste of the city go to https://markthalleneun.de/
Boat Tour of the city bridges
We are ready to get our bearings and take a tour of the city bridges by boat, the Reederei Riedel is one of the companies offering tours and although the route is restricted due to maintenance we get a pleasant overview of the city. With the Berlin card you get 25% off the hop on hop off tour tickets €24. On a sunny day it’s a good way to see many of the city sites but be sure to go to a tour that’s in English or rent the audio guides at €3. In hindsight it’s a long tour for my 18 year old who although he enjoyed the schnitzel and beer was itching to go and explore the badeschiff at the eastern confluence of the spree with city bathing and summer activities such as stand up paddle boarding available. In summer the pool on the water’s edge is open until 10pm.
It’s not too far from the arena club, a major venue for concerts and close to the east side gallery. Lots of places to bath in the summer and lakes surrounding the city.
East Side Gallery
This stop off is a must for hip young people and one of the last stretches of the original wall which has now been turned into an open air gallery since 1990.
The image of Kruschev and Brezhnev kissing is one of the most famous but there are several images to see. We sat at the bar in the middle which is a favourite spot for buskers and members of the public were asked to contribute songs on the day we rocked up. We killed three hours here easily and mark made a couple of friends too…but that’s another story!
The Berlin Wall Bike Tour
15km, 3,5h Rolling daily at 11.00h.
19 + 5€ for bike hire
Riding along the Berlin Wall on a guided bike tour https://berlinonbike.de/
It was far more than just a wall, it was a symbol of the misery, and the most visible sign of the struggle between two systems. With our guided bike tour you can discover the Berlin Wall.
For almost 30 years, this 160-kilometer-long, so-called “death strip” cut through the city and the lives of its people. Few families remained untouched by the division of the city; parents separated from their children, lovers who wound up on the “wrong” side of the Berlin Wall or young people who wanted to escape the restrictions of the GDR and risked their lives trying to get over the Wall.
The stories around the Berlin Wall and the East German secret police (Stasi) are many. Some of our guides have experienced them first hand; from the funny, to the tragic, to the unbelievably absurd. Along the 15 kilometers between Bornholmer Straße and the government district, our bike tour follows the obvious as well as the hidden remnants of the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart”. The Berlin Wall bike tour takes you to border checkpoints, like Checkpoint Charlie and places like Mauerpark, where a section of the so-called “death strip” has been transformed into a vibrant part of the new Berlin. You’ll also visit the official Berlin Wall Memorial Museum area on Bernauer Straße where the last remaining, totally intact, portion of the Berlin Wall and a guard tower can be seen.
We’ll delve into the political dimensions, the background circumstances and, above all, the human element in the everyday madness of life in a divided city, right where it happened. Kids along for the ride? No problem! Our competent bike guides break it down so that even generation Facebook will understand.
The tour took 4 hours and Our guide Lauren was passionate to convey an unbiased educated overview of what had happened to the city after the Second World War and during the Cold War.
The area around Berlin on bike is where the artist hang out and there is great choice in food at incredibly cheap prices. Rent is still low but going up as it in most European cities which will drive the creatives out. The vibe is open to new and to be young and able is a prerequisite as there isn’t easy access for wheelchair
The tv tower or Fernsehturm rises like an iconic space age and was built by the East Germans 1965 as a potent flexing of muscles after sending the first cosmonaut in to space. It’s height and cost etc. standing next to Alexandra Platz it’s a cool place to go for shopping or a beer. Here you can bounce on a trampoline as the world clock notes the ticking of time or go base flying for €69 at weekends from the Radisson Park Inn. https://www.base-flying.de/
For Culture visit museum island – easy to find and with discounted entry with the Berlin Welcome Card. Berlin cathederal, Bode Museum and National art gallery are all here and its not too far from Richestag, and Brandenburg Gate. Keep in mind that most museums close on Mondays.
The Jewish holocaust memorial is great for kids and it has an eerie quality that my son was keen to visit. Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte on a stretch of the former “death strip” where the Wall once stood near Brandenburg Gate, is Berlin’s stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. Impressive in its awesome grey soberness, rather than sombreness, it includes an underground Ort der Information (Information Centre) located on the south-eastern side of the memorial grounds, accessible via two flights of stairs or a lift.
Checkpoint Charlie is about a ten minute walk from Postdamer Platz which was in the middle of the strip during the cold war.
Charlottenburg is one of the largest and best preserved palaces of the Prussian princes. It’s outstanding gardens are fee to the public and lovely for a walk in nature. With the Berlin Welcom Card it cost €25 for a one hour self guided tour of the Palace. https://www.spsg.de/en/palaces-gardens/object/charlottenburg-palace-old-palace/
Shopping go to Alexanderplatz or Kurfurstdamm but the flea markets are great – antique market at ostbanhof on Sundays – flea market at the Bode museum on saturdays
If you have time Templhof is a disused airport built at the height of Nazi power and now an open area great for skating or cycling or enjoying the space.
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Two Packages to Berlin with Click and Go
Going out Thursday 29th August for three nights and staying at the 4* Berlin Mark Hotel in Charlottenburg €239pps
Package two going out Thursday August 15th 2019
flying with ryanair and staying at Leonardo Royal at Alexanderplatz for three nights €342 pps
Call them on
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Packages to Berlin with Cassidy Travel going out October Bank holiday weekend https://www.cassidytravel.ie/cheap-city-breaks/berlin/
This package includes a three night stay at the Hotel California in Kurfurstendamm with flights by Ryanair going out Saturday 26th October returning Tuesday 29th €222 pps
Tel Cassidy Travel at 0818-332500
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