Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A weekend in Berlin

The hubby and I took a Friday off work and decided to head to Berlin on a very cold February weekend. We flew direct from London Heathrow to Berlin with British Airways and chose to stay at Art'otel Berlin City Center West. I was slightly disappointed, I thought the hotel website looked better than the hotel itself but the location was good and rooms were big. Breakfast had nice rolls and smoked salmon and all in all this was a good, steady 4* hotel.

The weather was bitterly cold and so we decided on day one to take the City Sightseeing Bus around the tourist sites so we could view things without being too chilly. On our first day we stopped at the Holocaust Memorial and also spent some time at the free entry museum underneath. Get an audio guide as the information given is very poignant and it helps explain what really happened during this time. The Memorial is a short stroll from The Brandenburg Gate so definitely go and see this whilst you are in the area.

We then chose to head back to the hotel to warm up before taking a taxi to our dinner venue of choice Grill Royal. This place was heaving for a cold Friday night so please make sure you book in advance if you intend to visit. The vibe was dark and cool and quite typical of a smart steak house! We started with the 1kg of roasted prawns with Aioli to share and I would thoroughly recommend these, they were delicious. We both followed with steak, a sauce of choice, some fries and veg. The steak was cooked to perfection and the sides were an excellent complement to the main. We were too full for dessert so cannot comment on these but for a good quality, great atmosphere restaurant in the heart of Berlin you cannot beat this venue.

On our second day in Berlin we decided to head to Checkpoint Charlie and the museum. We also saw a part of the Berlin Wall in this area. We checked out the Jewish museum and also went to see the Berlin Cathedral, all of which were impressive and worth a visit, although on my next trip I think I will take a walking or a cycling tour as having a guide would bring the city to life. For our afternoon activity we pre-booked our tickets to the Reichstag, which were timed and required your passport for entry. Tickets are free and must be ordered online in advance of your visit. The audio guide was interesting and the dome provided great views over a snowy Berlin.

We were very tired by this point from the cold and the walking so didn't want to stray too far from our hotel for dinner and ended up dining at the close by Hard Rock in Berlin. I am a little disappointed in myself that I didn't muster enough energy to try another local delight but sometimes you just need some good greasy American comfort food!

On our last day we chose to take a tour to visit the concentration camp just outside of Berlin Sachsenhausen. Our group met close to the Berlin Zoo and we took a train before walking up to the camp. Our tour guide was very informative and we learnt a huge amount about this period of history and what happened at the camp. You can visit independently and audio guides are available but we are really pleased we took the tour as it meant we could ask questions and see more of the camp than the audio guide may have shown us. The tour will make you think and being a sub zero February day you couldn't help but wonder the experience these prisoners had in their rags for clothes with minimal food and forced labor.

We loved Berlin, the city is steeped in history and we learnt a huge amount. Three days is just not enough to explore this fabulous city. I would love to come back and conquer more of the dining scene as well as try out some of the very famous night life. I would also like to step into more of the history and immerse myself deeper into Berlin's past and present life.