I am not a ‘Berliner’ (a person who lives in Berlin or better ‘is Berlin’). I know the city well, but still being a tourist, I took an American girl to Berlin, showing her everything you can in the small amount of time of one day. You can see so much, but where to start? This day could be the beginning of a never ending Berlin-visit.
We started with the government quarter which is easy to access from the main station. The mixture of old and new buildings all over Berlin are one of the main features of the city. Most of Berlin got destroyed in the Second World War and the ‘city picture’ was devastated. There was no choice to develop into a big city which shows many faces. To get a nice overview without paying anything, go up the new glass dome, the roof of the Reichstag which comprises the plenary room, so you can see the politicians debating live behind the glass. High up, the view gives you a first impression and orientation of the size of Berlin, the architecture and the structure of the city in quarters. (glass dome 360®) http://www.360cities.net/image/germany-reichstag-glass-dome-roof-view#358.70,-20.00,82.0
On the ground again, walk your way through the tourists to the Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor). It’s a well- known place, built as a city gate; it was the stage for one of the biggest people’s reunion in history. The wall between East and West Germany went right through Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate was located on the East side, but too close to West Berlin, so in these years of separation, no one but officers or people with special allowance were permitted to gain access. People from the East side were protesting or trying to escape to West Berlin in any possible way. Every ‘violation of the national border’ was a crime in East Germany and was inhumanly punished or led to dead, most time directly on the borderline. A quick outline of Pictures and stories can be found next to Brandenburg Gate on the right hand side. Nowadays, the street on which the Brandenburg gate is located, named after the ‘17th June (worker’s uprising in 1953) is a public place which is used for events like public viewings which are always spectacular where hundreds of thousands come together.
Now walk to the ‘Friedrichstrasse’ which is one of the main shopping roads, it takes you right to the ‘Checkpoint Charlie’. That was the main border crossing point. Here you can read more about the Cold War and the Berlin wall. Next to it in the ‘Schuetzenstrasse’ you find the ‘Currywurst Museum’. It is very expensive and time-consuming to go in it, but is a good place to experience a taster. As a Currywurst virgin you get the ‘Currywurst in a cup’ which is a small portion. Get it with the popular ‘Club Mate’ which is THE favourite drink right now, if you ask.
Enjoy the time, till it goes to another foot walk to the ‘Potsdamer Platz’ (a city plan is recommended) or for the ones with lazy feet, you can take the U-Bahn from ‘Stadtmitte’ to ‘Potsdamer Platz’. The place accommodates the Museum of Film and TV, a piece of the Berlin Wall and paving stones across the streets which show where the wall once was. Passing that, you can walk your way directly to the ‘Holocaust memorial’. It’s a scenic place and a memorial of a kind like no other. It’s artsy but discreet. It was the attempt to deal with history actively, touchable and real.
So, after all that history we deserve a break. You take the S-Bahn to ‘Hackescher Markt’, where you can find a place to calm down and relax with a cocktail or beer. From there we walked to the ‘museum-quarter’ which takes us to see the ‘Berlin dome’ and further to the ‘Alexanderplatz’ with the big ‘TV tower’. It’s great to see; you need nothing more than walking by the river ‘Spree’ in the slowly upcoming sunset. That takes you to the right amount of time to get to dinner-time. Here we went to an American Burger Restaurant called ‘White Trash’ which is famous for their food and especially their scenic ambiance with 60s-70s music – a nice dinner is guaranteed. The Elvis Supreme Burger is outrageous with Sauerkraut. If you’re not interested in burgers, I am sure you will find a cute and authentic place to eat in the ‘Schoenhauser Allee’. There are also a number of smaller shops and entertainment venues between ‘Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz’ and ‘Senefelder Platz’ nearer the city centre.
After dinner, if you just want to see the night-life, I would take the train to ‘Warschauer Platz’ where you could take four pictures on a stripe in a photo automat which is one of the best souvenirs you can get. Walking the streets, you pass a couple of clubs and see the most interesting people. It’s an atmosphare which makes it easy to escape the daily routine. If you want to experience the night life yourself, the majority of the biggest and best clubs do not start before 12 – 1 and get busy between 2 – 4 am. Berlin doesn’t do sleep! Explaining that is another article, coming soon – Your first night in Berlin. There is nothing like ‘it’.