Golders Green (golders_green) wrote,
Golders Green


We spent a wintry weekend in Berlin, flying into Tegel on Friday and staying the night at Hotel Orion in the West. The next morning V., my sister and I took a walk to Kurfurstendamm and the bombed-out Kaiser Wilhelm church and had a look around while we waited for the markets to open. For once in my life I didn't mind going into a shopping mall (nice and toasty), and we had drinks in a cafe. My sister said she felt ill so she left us to go back to the hotel.

V. and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring the streets and shops, and looking around the outdoor Christmas market. I sampled the famous Gluhwein several times, my favourite being the one sold by M. & B. Roden; their mulled wine was richer and hotter than others I tried.

That evening we had dinner at the Hotel Mondial restaurant along the Kurfurstendamm.

The following day was much more active, and it began at Zoo Station which takes its name from the nearby Zoological Gardens. We took the S-Bahn overland train with its good views of the city to the old Jewish sector and started a half-day historical walking tour. We visited and learned about too many amazing places and their histories to list here, but highlights would include: walking on an icy bridge over the River Spree; the architecture of Museum Island in the centre of the city; Berlin's singular memorial to victims of war at the Neue Wache; an open-air rink where children were ice-skating with Lennon & Ono's sanctimonious Christmas song blaring through loudspeakers; the Bebel Platz memorial at the site of the Nazi book-burnings, a slightly opaque window set in the ground through which we could see empty subterranean bookshelves; Checkpoint Charlie, the former border crossing between East and West; the notorious "death strip" and the remains of the Berlin Wall; the carpark on top of the bunker where Hitler died; the controversial Holocaust memorial by an American architect that opened this year; the Brandenburg Gate in Pariser Platz and the famous Reichstag (parliament building); Unter den Linden and the Victory Column.

There was much more besides...

You could almost be forgiven for thinking the rich history of this city is composed of tragic human conflicts and little else, but it depends on how you look at things.

Finishing the tour mid-afternoon, we retired to il Punto right across the road from the Reichstag and warmed up with Gluhwein, then caught a bus back to the Kurfurstendamm.
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