Weekend in Berlin

As part of a three week visit to Germany, we spent three days in Berlin, with extended family as well as our three children, aged 26, 17 and 18. We visited cultural and historical sites and shopped!


Weekend in Berlin

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Berlin is a very large and wonderful city with a great number of things to do. Here the tumultuous history of the country of Germany is laid out before you, as well as the present day center of German government. You could spend weeks there. Highlights are the Bus 100, a city bus that goes past most of the big tourist locations, including the Reichtag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Museumsinsel, and to the Ferhsehturm, from the Zoo station. Walking down the Kurfurstendamm from the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedankskirche, shopping in KaDeWe, viewing a section of the Berlin Wall, and learning about divided Berlin in the Checkpoint Charlie museum.${QuickSuggestions} There are great youth hostels in Berlin, which were a necessity for our family of young youth. It allowed the young people to hang with others their own age when they wanted to (instead of the parents). The Hostelling International hostel we stayed at is a little less counterculture than the other hostels in Berlin.${BestWay} Public transportation is it. This is a huge city with a great subway system (east and west very cleanly combined), terrible traffic, and parking. My sister with two small children had rented a car, but left it in the hotel parking lot the entire weekend in Berlin.

Jugendgästehaus Berlin, Hostelling International

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

The Berlin Youth Hostel (this is the official DJH/IYH hostel at Kluckstraße 3)

It's a really large, very institutional building, which houses lots of people in accommodations ranging from small rooms to dorms. The hostel is about four blocks from the Kurfürstenstraße U-Bahn station. It's an easy walk past Woolworths, and a thrift-style store and the headquarters of Der Tagespeigel. You pass a small park before turning north on Kluckstrasse, just south of the Tiergarten. You enter and are facing a large reception desk. You check in, they have you pick up sheets and go up to a room. Ours (my daughter and I) had two bunk beds (one with a trundle), all women. The men had a similar set up on the same hall. There are two large communal bathrooms and the rooms have large, locking cabinets (with keys you can take with you).

We got there, locked our stuff in the cupboards, and headed downstairs. Downstairs, on the main level, there is a large snack bar area, where you can get something to eat when they are open, a bank of vending machines (candy, ice cream, soda, water) where you can get something when they are not open. There are a number of tables and chairs, and some sofas for just lounging. Out the back, behind the building, is a large grassy yard where an international soccer game was going on, a complex of recycling containers, as well as some tables and benches. Inside there are also a bank of three coin phones, a water fountain, and a couple of PCs set up for internet access.

On the far side of the room is a large cafeteria, where breakfast is served. They serve the standard German breakfast, Brötchen and bread, sliced meats and cheeses, müseli or corn flakes with milk and quark, coffee, tea, cocoa, juice. This is a very clean and safe place to stay, and was great for a family.

Jugendgästehaus Berlin, Hostelling International
Kluckstrasse 3
Berlin, Germany
(030) 261 10 97

Hotel Bogota

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

We did not stay at the Hotel Bogota, but my sister and her family and my father and his wife did, so we spent some time here. The hotel is located just a half block off the Kurfurstendamm, a major tourist and shopping area in former West Berlin.

It is very clean and the lobby and common areas very stylish. The rooms are large and airy, with high ceilings, as it is an older building. My father and his wife had a double with a bath and my sister and her family a triple, plus a crib. The rooms were pleasant and comfortable, and the location and price were great.

Hotel Bogota Berlin
SCHLVETR STRASSE 45
Berlin, Germany, 10707
49-3088-1500-1

Berlin's Kufurstendamm and Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Kufurstendamm, or Prince's Way, is a large broad boulevard through former West Berlin, ending on one end at the Tiergarten in the center of Berlin. It is lined with chic boutiques and restaurants. In warm weather outdoor tables line the road and side roads, and you can have a Berliner Weisse (wheat beer mixed with sweet syrup) while you watch the world go by. At one end the bombed out shell of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedanskirche greets you. Left in the state it was in after the bombing of Berlin at the end of the second World War, this structure gives you a feeling for the devastation of this city at that time.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche
Breitscheidplatz
Berlin, Germany, 10789
+49 30 218 50 23

Tourist Bus 100 and 200

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

After lunch we got on Berlin's public Bus 100. This is a bus that passes many of the major sights. It is a double decker bus, and leaves every ten minutes or so. We got on the top decker in the top and watched as the bus drove up past the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in Kurfürstendamm, through the Zoogarten past the Victory Column, past the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, (which is currently being renovated, and is draped with cloth), down Unter den Linden, past the Museums in the Museuminsel, and the Berliner Dom, and on to the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz, which is where we got off.
Tourist Bus 100 and 200
Bus Stops Around Main City Sites
Berlin, Germany

TV Tower/ Alexanderplatz

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

We went into the observation deck of the Fernsehturm and looked out at Berlin. We could not stop and get something to eat there (not that we were hungry) as the restaurant was full at the time and they were not letting people up there.

The views from here are incredible, looking out over the eastern part of Germany, and even so far as the Waldbühne. I particularly picked out the beautiful dome of the new synagoge and the Ostbahnhof, where we would have to be the next night. The tower itself is rather aged, and not architecturally beautiful. At the base, inside, were several shops, including a Russian shop, somehow appropriate here in the former East Germany.

Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz
Berlin, Germany, 10178

Potsdamer Platz

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

After spending some time up in the tower, we headed back to the U-Bahn and went to Potsdammer Platz. This major square, formerly a no-man's land in East Berlin, is still mostly under construction. I was somewhat disappointed with the surface level, though we had some fun shopping in the mall beneath the street. This is very accessible from the U-Bahn, and the buidings going up are very futuristic. Wonder what it looks like 2 years later?
Potsdamer Platz
Public Square, Center of Berlin
Berlin, Germany, 10785

KaDeWe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Being young ladies, the two 17-year-old girls decided they needed to shop till they dropped, and we headed for KaDeWe, Kaufhaus des Westens, the biggest department store on the continent. On the way in we stopped to make a visit to the bears that were decorating the streets of Berlin. Next we headed upstairs for the sixth floor and explored the food of all sorts available there. This is a huge space with many little nooks and crannies. Everyone was able to find something to enjoy for less than 15 DM (this was pre-Euro). Then we spent a little time visiting the seven floors of all sorts of merchandise, before Mark and George (26-years-old) and I left to visit a museum, leaving the 17 and 18-year-old to shop.
Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe)
Tauentzienstr. 21-24
Berlin, 10789
+49 30 2121 0

Checkpoint Charlie

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Mark, George, and I headed off to the Checkpoint Charlie museum. This museum is just fascinating, with the history of the Wall and separated Berlin, but it is pretty much endless. I became totally exhausted, and literally asleep on my feet at some points. We headed back to the girls on the West Side (which we were now more aware of).

There are a number of really interesting exhibits here, including some art exhibits and many historical documents and photos related to the Berlin Wall and separated Berlin. There are many exhibits related to ways that people managed to go across the wall, as well as exhibits on the construction of it.

Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Friedrichstrasse 43
Berlin, Germany, 10969
+49 30 25 37 25 0

Berlin Wall

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Not wanting to make it too easy on everyone, we retuned to the youth hostel, picked up the luggage and headed deep into former East Berlin, and the Ost Bahnhof. We stopeed at Warschaurstrasse to see the East Side Gallery, a 1km length of the Wall. Too tired to walk the whole thing, we nonetheless managed to walk up to it and see a good couple hundred feet before heading back to the train station and grabbing a fast meal. The wall is fascinating, covered with art of all sorts, tall and forbidding. It is free, and right by the river, so the setting is pretty.
Berlin Wall
East Berlin, just a five min walk from station
Berlin, Germany

Berlin Philharmonic at the Waldbühne

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by JulieHolm on February 7, 2003

Berlin Philharmonic does an annual outside condert at the Waldbühne in Berlin. The Waldbühne is an immense outdoor venue sitting in a natural valley. The huge tented stage sits nestled in dark trees and the sun sets behind it, over to the left, just far enough to make watching the stage still comfortable. Since the sun was not setting at this point (July 1) until close to 10 PM, there was daylight througout most of this concert.

The concert itself was perfect. The Berlin Philharmonic was superb, and Sarah Chang, the violinist, was out of this world, playing long clear notes high enough to hurt your teeth, then descending to notes that were viola-low. Placido Domingo was conducting a program of Spanish and Spanish-inspired music. He's a very exciting man. We live in Washington, DC, and have seen him conduct the Washington Opera (in rehearsal only, I'm afraid), but he really has a presence and some real excitement.

The Waldbühne is near the Olympic stadium in Berlin, and we could see where the eternal flame had been. The logistics of getting to the venue are easy, taking the U-Bahn to Olympic stadium and then getting on a shuttle bus. We stopped on the way out at a big candy vendor and bought some gummi and other candy.

One strange thing about concerts in Germany was that they do many, many encores. The Berlin Philharmonic must have had an hour of material off the program, and at the end the whole audience was invited to join in. We would, later in the trip, attend another concert with a similar pattern. It was great. At the end the Berlin Philharmonic played a couple of traditional German songs, which the whole audience enthusiastically joined in with, and Domingo left the stage and joined "the public" in singing those songs.

Berlin Philharmonic at the Waldbühne
Waldbühne outoor music Venue
Berlin, Germany

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