The final international trip of 2018 took us to Berlin at the perfect time of year for the traditional Christmas markets and celebrations for which the city is world renowned.
Arriving late on Sunday night and settling into our hostel based in the east, we were all ready to explore this vast city with its unique historical background. This started on Monday morning with a walking tour of Berlin, wonderfully described through our guide, Martin. Visiting all of the main tourist destinations (Brandenburg Gate, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Hitler’s Bunker, Checkpoint Charlie and much more) we left Martin feeling well informed and educated, as well as comfortably hitting any Fitbit steps targets.
The morning of Tuesday saw us travel across the city to the west, over to Charlottenburg Palace, exploring the grounds and the history thanks to the audio guides. Our group of sixteen people then descended upon a small, quaint coffee shop across the road that, despite our large order and their minimal staff, welcomed us and looked after us very well – especially with their giant slabs of cake!
After all of the history, it was time to explore the city’s culture; and no better way than to explore it through one of our own cultural icons, David Bowie, who resided in Berlin during the 70’s. We visited his old home and recording studios, as well as the site of one of his most poignant performances in June ’87, outside the Reichstag, at the height of the tensions between West and East Germany.
We continued exploring the local culture into Wednesday, spending the day at various Christmas markets around Postdamer Platz, after a morning spent walking round the dome on top of the Reichstag building. We all came back to our hostel laden with Christmas presents for family and friends (and one or two for ourselves as well).
A cultural exploration of a city wouldn’t be complete with sampling the local produce and we were in for a real treat on our final tour of the trip, a food tour of East Berlin. Cheese, wine, meat and all sorts of other local delicacies were ploughed upon us as our guide Swen took us through the streets of East Berlin, dropping in at local delis, bakeries and restaurants.
Travelling on the U-bahn back to Schoenefeld Airport early on Friday morning was a struggle after our week of walking but our tired feet happily boarded the plane home looking forward to enjoying the Christmas holidays.