6 Quirky Museums that you really shouldn’t miss! – #bestofBerlin

Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!
Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!

And where to close the year and begin the new, than in a fascinating world city such as London, Paris, New York. Hong Kong, Sydney and of course, our very own Berlin.

New Year’s Eve on the long strip of Tiergarten is the largest party in Europe, bringing in more than a million visitors from around the world each year, compared to roughly 250,000 people in central London, and 340,000 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

Silvester am Brandenburger Tor or New Year's Eve at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. © SpreePIX Media
Silvester am Brandenburger Tor or New Year’s Eve at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
© SpreePIX Media

Yep! Berlin – the place to be!

Last week, I put up an excellent give-away prize of 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages to be validated by December 31st, 2015, at the latest.

It seems that most of you have either already been to Berlin or are coming sometime next year!

In that wise, I’m rolling it over, so the FIRST person to subscribe to my blog – The British Berliner – AND tell me why you would like to win the tickets on my post here, BEFORE December 31st, wins!

Hurry! There are only four (4) days to the end of this year as I’d be sorry to have to use it myself lol!

Here’s the info:

Berlin WelcomeCard

The Berlin Welcome Card package will include transport tickets for 48 hours including the city of Potsdam, 200 discounts, inside tips, information on top attractions, a city map, a mini guide-book written in English, German, Italian and Spanish, a €5.00 discount for the TV Tower restaurant or bar and a free voucher for a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz valid until January 3rd, 2016!

Perfect for the New Year celebration in Berlin!

Only comments attached to this post will be considered.

You have until midnight on December 30th and the announcement will be made on the blog on January 4th. The winners will meet me personally and receive the tickets at the front of Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) on December 31st at 12 noon!

Good Luck!

You can see all the places that I went to previously by following me via #bestofBerlin on Twitter & Facebook.

At the end of last week’s post, I told you that there are a few museums and galleries that I would like to recommend and that Berlin has so many great places that I would do them injustice if I didn’t write about them properly, so I’m writing this piece about my new favourite museums since it’s winter.

Winter!?

The Christmas market in Osnabrück ©Osnabrück Marketing und Tourismus.
The Christmas market in Osnabrück
©Osnabrück Marketing und Tourismus.

You’re having a laugh, as we haven’t seen a single snowflake since November!

Even though I’ve written about museums before, this post wasn’t easy to write, as there are just so many things to do and places to go,  so without much ado, watch and learn about a few more!

SIX (6) QUIRKY GALLERIES & MUSEUMS

Berlinische Galerie, Berlin. © Photo: Berlinische Galerie
Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.
© Photo: Berlinische Galerie

Did you that Berlin has more museums than rainy days since we have more than 180 museums and only 106.3 rainy days on average per year?

Did you know that Berlin is one of the few cities to have three (3) UNESCO World Heritage sites and that most of them are in fact, royal palaces and garden turned into museums?

Did you know that the East-Side Gallery also known as The Berlin Wall, is the longest open-air gallery in the world and is 1,316 metres long? Not only that, but it was painted in 1990 by 118 artists from 21 countries and has 106 individual works of art!

Did you know that in addition to its world-renowned museum collections, Berlin is also home to some rather unusual museums such as the Gas Lamp Museum (I wrote about this last week), the Medical History Museum, the Sugar Museum, the “Museum der unerhörten Dinge” or the Museum of Extraordinary Things, the Buchstabenmuseum  or the Museum of Letters, the Computerspielemuseum or Museum of Computer Games (really, really good!) and the Hemp Museum?!!!!

Wow!

Is it any wonder that this post is tribute to just some of Berlin’s finest museums and art galleries? Let’s do it!

THE STORY OF BERLIN

The Story of Berlin, Germany.

I hadn’t been here for years but let me tell you, if you’re new in town, this is a museum you simply must visit. THE STORY OF BERLIN is what it says on the tin and is a multi-media museum with loads of rooms to run through, plenty of things to touch and if, like me, you like history, dozens of things to learn.

You get to experience and view 800 years of Berlin’s history through the centuries, the people in the Middle Ages, the wealth, the wars and in a sense, the history of Germany through sound effects, touch screens, models, drawers, pulleys and levers that you can push and pull, and of course, films and recordings.

Military & Enlightenment at The Story of Berlin!
Military & Enlightenment at The Story of Berlin!

There is no doubt that you’ll get to see 17th – 19th century Berlin, the world wars, Berlin and National Socialism also known as Nazism, the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany and of course, liberal tolerant Berlin today.

There is also a fully functioning nuclear bomb shelter from the Cold War and you get an extra guided tour included in the price of your ticket as well as a free chips / fries, if you buy a portion of curry wurst from one of the most famous sausage stalls in Berlin – Curry 36 which you can use in either Kreuzberg or Charlottenburg.

My favourite bit was the Steel, Light, Machine Rhythm bit, the Birth of a Metropolis and Berlin in the Golden 20’s and the era of art and film. Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €12.00. Children between 6-16 – €5.00. Students €9.00

Highly recommended for all the family.

THE GERMAN SPY MUSEUM BERLIN

Spy Museum - Berlin © Therese Sivertsson
Spy Museum – Berlin
© Therese Sivertsson

This museum is brand new and was only opened on September 19th, 2015!

It’s not difficult to find as it’s at Potsdamer Platz right opposite The Mall of Berlin and I wrote about this region last week!

The Spy Museum has now been re-named as the German Spy Museum Berlin, otherwise known as the Deutsches Spionagemuseum!

The museum is a unique interactive, multi-media museum that is all about the history of espionage and secret services all around the world. Yes, it reveals the secrets of spying from as far back as from ancient Egyptian history which is still being used today, the spying activities behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War, and also how to take part in infra-ray laser activity, quizzes and other interactive games which include smell, sound, sight, touch and full body participation!

The German Spy Museum Berlin - Deutsches Spionagemuseum! ©Deutsches Spionagemuseum
The German Spy Museum Berlin – Deutsches Spionagemuseum!
©Deutsches Spionagemuseum

If you’ve always wanted to be James Bond, now’s your chance!

I went there a few weeks ago, as part of an after-hours Travel Massive bloggers event and I was so impressed that I’m going to take “The Tall Young Gentleman” there too!

The German Spy Museum Berlin - Deutsches Spionagemuseum! ©Deutsches Spionagemuseum
The German Spy Museum Berlin – Deutsches Spionagemuseum!
©Deutsches Spionagemuseum

My favourite bit was the infra-ray game and the bizarre and sneaky methods of agents and secret services. Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €12.00. Children under 6: €0.00. Other children & students €8.00. Families (2 adults and their children) €35.00.

Highly recommended for teenaged boys and all the family!

THE CURRYWURST MUSEUM

Berlin's most famous iconic meal - currywurst, chips & mayo!
Berlin’s most famous iconic meal – currywurst, chips & mayo!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t dare to even visit Berlin without at least attempting it’s most famous snack and dish – drum roll pleeeeeeease!

The Currywurst!

That delicious beef or pork sausage grilled and chopped up, then smothered with a spicy ketchup and curry powder, eaten with a pile of chips and a slice of bread or a bun!

The Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin is an interactive museum dedicated to the love and history of Berlin’s most famous German curried sausage!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" playing at the Currywurst Museum in Berlin!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” playing at the Currywurst Museum in Berlin!

You can wander through all the rooms and experience the installations which you can explore through visual, text and audio form. You can learn how currywurst is made, smell it, sit on it, touch it, watch a film about it, attempt to sell it, and play around with the french fries and chips. You can even have chocolate and curry sausage ice-cream!

My favourite bit was “selling” sausages at the stall, the interactive games and the history of currywurst itself. Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €11.00. Children between 6-13 – €7.00. Students €8.50. Under 6 free of charge. Families (2 adults and children under 13) €29.00. On MuseumMonday all visitors get a 20 % discount unless your ticket is already discounted!

Highly recommended for all the family.

THE JEWISH MUSEUM

An upper-middle class German-Jewish family at the Jewish Museum Berlin.
An upper-middle class German-Jewish family at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

This museum is not exactly quirky but it is one of my favourite museums, and in a sense, interesting and fun to visit!

The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of Europe’s leading museums and is not only a learning tool but a vibrant interactive center of reflection and understanding of Jewish history and culture, as well as migration and diversity in Germany of three (3) major world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The exhibition starts by going to the basement where there are enormous empty spaces that cut through the entire museum filled with either silence, or 10,000 open-mouthed faces coarsely cut from heavy, circular iron grids covering the floor – in memory of all innocent victims of war and violence.

Speyer, Worms & Maint - Symbols of flourishing Jewish life in the Middle Ages - Jewish Museum Berlin - The World of Askaenaz (950-1500) Jüdisches Museum Berlin ©Thomas Bruns
Speyer, Worms & Maint – Symbols of flourishing Jewish life in the Middle Ages – Jewish Museum Berlin – The World of Askaenaz (950-1500) Jüdisches Museum Berlin
©Thomas Bruns

You then move from floor to floor where there are many exhibitions that you can read, touch, sit on, feel, and see, that show fourteen (14) historical periods of time, right from the Middle Ages to the present day. Each period displays a vivid portrait of Jewish life in Germany via art, everyday objects, photos, letters, films, music and interactive displays that  exhibit the history of Jewish culture, and show how tightly Jewish life and German history are interwoven, and connected.

My favourite bit was, because I’m a history nerd, the Jewish Medieval Quarter from 1500 – 1800, Jewish bourgeois lifestyle and the German – Jewish exhibitions from 1800-1914. There is also a permanent exhibition depicting Two Millennia of German Jewish History and a special exhibition of Adolph Menzel – a German artist known for drawings, etchings, and paintings of the 19th century. Of course, you can’t go to a museum in Germany, without learning about the horrors of National Socialism and the story of many families such as those of Anna Frank, Nazism and Hitler, that put an end to the shared history of German-Jewish people in Germany. Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €8.00. Children – €3.00. Students €3.00. Under 6 free of charge. Families (2 adults and up to 4 children) €14.00! Reduced admission with a ticket for the Berlinische Galerie on the day of purchase and the two following days.

Highly recommended for everyone.

THE BERLINISCHE GALERIE

The Berlinische Galerie - Museum of modern art, photography and architecture, Berlin!
The Berlinische Galerie – Museum of modern art, photography and architecture, Berlin!

Contrary to what you might think, the Berlinische Galerie is not actually a gallery but a museum of modern art, photography and architecture! It’s in Kreuzberg and is only a few paces away from The Jewish Museum which is why there’s a reduction on tickets if you go to both of them.

I don’t mind if I do lol!

I always say that given a choice I tend to favour older master pieces and works of art, but funnily enough I seem to be quite into Modern Art too!

Anyhoo. I find art of landscapes and street scenes quite soothing. Perhaps it’s because of the watercolours and oils rather than black and white photos.

Then again, I like photographs too, so perhaps not!

The exhibitions are displayed on two floors with media, video and a quirky film about architecture and the environment.

Max Beckmann and Berlin exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.
Max Beckmann and Berlin exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.

There was also a portrait photography  exhibition of documentary pictures taken on the street and in the studio as well as a presentation from a collection of paintings ranging from the late 19th century, to expressionist art, East European avant-garde and post-war modern architecture and impressionist history.

Berlin has always been a hub of creativity, attracting young international artists, now more than ever before, as well as creatives in music, film and art, and the Berlinische Galerie didn’t disappoint with its’ collections of paintings, prints, sculpture, photography and architecture.

Max Beckmann and a self portrait in Florence (1907).
Max Beckmann and a self-portrait in Florence (1907).

However, the cat’s whiskers was the Max Beckmann and Berlin exhibition (until 15.02.16) which documents and displays works of art on the lively, diverse art scene in Berlin from the 1910’s, 1920’s and early 1930’s.

I thoroughly enjoyed the working class milieu as well as the then avant-garde street art! Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €10.00. Children under 18 free of charge. Students €7.00. Every first Monday of the month €6.00. Reduced admission with a ticket for the Jewish Museum within three days.

Highly recommended for artists and lovers of Berlin art history and architecture.

THE MÄRKISCHES MUSEUM

Outside the Märkisches Museum - Lord Roland of Brandenburg.
Outside the Märkisches Museum – Lord Roland of Brandenburg.

This museum turned out to be quite a surprise. In order to get there you have to go to an underground station called Märkisches Museum U-Bahn. Follow the signs outside for a little while and they will lead you to an actual museum called the Märkisches Museum.

I know!

I used to think that the museum was named after the station. But it isn’t, it’s the other way around and in fact, it used to be the museum of Berlin. It’s a little bit hidden, but well worth it.

The Märkisches Museum was founded in 1874 and is the HQ for the City of Berlin museum foundation, which also operates four other museums namely: the Nikolaikirche (which I wrote about last week,) the Ephraim-Palais (which I’m going to visit in 2016), the Knoblauchhaus (which I visited in 2014) and the Museumsdorf Düppel!

I’m a freak. I spent a couple of hours there and I still left it unfinished halfway through!

The Märkisches Museum in Berlin © Faruk Hosseini
The Märkisches Museum in Berlin
© Faruk Hosseini

The Märkisches Museum is a lovely old red brick building and a walk through the museum is a walk through the history of Berlin starting from the Stone Ages. It’s an interactive museum where you can hear, feel, make, touch and make. There’s a special attraction of automatophones, and vintage mechanical musical instruments, so take your time.

There’s also a lot of stuff from the Middle Ages, swords, staffs, shields and armoury as well as loads of bears!

Yes, bears!

A brown grizzly bear is the symbol of the city of Berlin, and has been, since 1280.

And up until a few weeks ago, there was a real brown bear living in the park right outside the museum and bears have been living there as live city mascots since 1939!

In fact, there used to be two (2) bears – Schnute and her daughter – Maxi!

Schnute - the last real-life Berlin bear mascot! ©AFP/Getty
Schnute – the last real-life Berlin bear mascot!
©AFP/Getty

A real live bear!

That’s a bit odd but it’s Berlin, we’re all slightly “off” around here and unsurprisingly, nobody was bothered about having a brown grizzly living behind the museum, in a small park, in the middle of the city!

And you’d still be able to see it but sadly and perhaps, rightly, the last real-life Berlin bear – Schnute (34 years old) recently passed away!

Gosh!

A stained glass window at the Märkisches Museum Berlin ©Pudelek (Marcin Szala).
A stained glass window at the Märkisches Museum Berlin
©Pudelek (Marcin Szala).

Anyway, you start in the basement and work your way upwards and outwards with the various Quarters, the trading parts, hunting and royalty, as well as the medieval walls, ruins of a monastery, churches and baroque palaces.

My favourite bits were the collections left behind and donated by the Hans & Luise Richter Family and the haute-bourgeoise household materials from the Beer-Meyerbeer-Richter German-Jewish family. I also loved the history (and I still do!) and royal paintings and pporcelain ceramics from Frederick II otherwise known as Frederick the Great and the King of Prussia in the 1700’s for his military victories, his reorganization of the Prussian army, his patronage of the Arts and the Enlightenment in Prussia, and “winning” the Seven Year War!

I also rather like the photographs and paintings of the various districts of Berlin 200 years and the way they look today! Go see for yourself here.

Price: Adults €5.00. Children under 18 free of charge. Students €3.00.  Free admission for all on the first Wednesday of every month.

Highly recommended for everyone.

Don’t forget, the FIRST person to subscribe to my blog – The British Berliner – AND tell me why you would like to win the tickets on my post here, BEFORE December 31st, wins!

Have a fantastic end of year in 2015 and a brilliant bringing-in of the New Year, in 2016.

See you next year!
I wish for peace, harmony and international understanding that no-one is wrong, just different- A New Year message from The British Berliner!
I wish for peace, harmony and international understanding that no-one is wrong, just different – A New Year message from The British Berliner!

This post is not sponsored so I can’t wait to hear from you!

If you have any questions about Berlin, Germany or anywhere in Europe, don’t be shy, I’m an expert! Go ahead and ask me!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!Thanks a million!

6 Quirky Museums that you really shouldn't miss! - #bestofBerlin

Have you been to any of these quirky museums? Do you know any even wackier? Have you ever seen a real life bear?

See you in Berlin.

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How to spend 48 hours in Berlin – DAY ONE – #bestofBerlin

Glühwein or mulled wine to go - at the German Christmas Market

So last week, I took part in the Berlin campaign #bestofBerlin as part of a tourism initiative to discover new and old parts of Berlin.

Let me tell you, if you live in Berlin, you don’t know how lucky you are as Berlin is one of the most attractive cities in the world not only to live in, but to visit. And if you’ve never been here, I don’t even know what you’ve been thinking.

Why not, should be the question?

When, should be the answer!

Last week, I gave you A Short Introduction To Berlin so if you missed it, go ahead, read it and catch up! As promised, this week’s post is all about what you can do in a short period of time, so without further ado:

HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN BERLIN: #bestofBerlin

© visitBerlin - Philip Koschel
© visitBerlin – Philip Koschel

First of all, get yourself the Berlin Welcome Card for either 2015 or 2016. I wrote about it last week here.

If you decide to stay for a couple of days and need the Berlin Welcome Card for 48 hours only, then get yourself a Day Pass or a Day Return ticket too which you can use to supplement the extra day or two, as necessary. I explained how to buy BVG (Berlin public transport) tickets and what to do with them here. Note that they cannot be used to see tourists sights only to take you around the city.

Taking the shuttle bus. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz
Taking the shuttle bus.
© Photo: Sergej Horovitz

The Berlin WelcomeCard can be bought pretty much everywhere really, and not only does it include transport tickets for 48 hours including the city of Potsdam, but 200 discounts, inside tips, information on top attractions, a city map and a mini guide-book written in English, German, Italian and Spanish! I don’t know if you can get the guides in other world languages, but I guess you can always ask!

Please note that the VisitBerlin website is available in 14 languages – German, English, French, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish, and Korean!

I was given a complimentary Berlin WelcomeCard and it also included a €5.00 discount for the TV Tower restaurant or bar and a free voucher for a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz!

Now once you’re all sorted with the Berlin Welcome Card, you’re all good to go and we can now begin.

DAY ONE

© visitBerlin - Wolfgang Scholvien
© visitBerlin – Wolfgang Scholvien
  • Leave your hotel, hostel or apartment and take a bus, tram or train. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard transport ticket.
  • Start at Alexanderplatz and go to the World Clock. Take a couple of pictures. If it’s in the summer, take pictures at the fountain too.
  • From the World Clock, turn right. Follow the tram line. Watch the trams. You’re in East Berlin so most of the transportation you’ll see in this part of the city, will be trams. If you don’t see any trams at all, you’re in West Berlin!
The TV Tower or Fernsehturm in Berlin.
The TV Tower or Fernsehturm in Berlin.
  • Right in front of you is a huge block TK Maxx building. Walk in front of it and just around the corner you will see a very tall building. This building is called the TV Tower or Fernsehturm. Go inside. There are usually long queues so pre-book your ticket if you can. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount and €5.00 off your bill in the restaurant or bar (with a minimum spend of €15.00). There are magnificent panoramic views. It really is brilliant to see and is the tallest building in Germany! Also if you’re in the gentrified district of Mitte or Prenzlauerberg (where I live), you can generally see the TV Tower from most parts of the region. If you can’t, you’re in West Berlin lol!
  • Leave the TV tower and there’s another fountain right in front of you (or in December, one of the Christmas Markets), turn left. Go straight down until you get to a huge red building. This building is called the Red Town Hall or Roten Rathaus. This is the seat of our Town Mayor. It’s usually free to go in and has an impressive fantastic ceiling, entrance and hall. Take a few photos.
The historical Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel in Berlin.
The historical Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel in Berlin.
  • There’s a lot of construction work going on at the moment so take the time to read what the buildings will look like in the future! Cross the road in front of you. You will soon find yourself in the oldest part of Berlin. It’s called the Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel and it’s one of my most favourite parts of Berlin to visit. Even if I say so myself!
  • Wander around and take photographs.
Not the Weeping Angels of Dr. Who! Thank goodness!
Not the Weeping Angels of Dr. Who. Thank goodness!
  • Visit the St. Nicholas Church or the Nikolaikirche. It’s not only a church but a museum too and an audio guide about Berlin’s history in different languages, is provided! The church is over 800 years old and has a hidden basement floor that is considered to be one of the oldest existing rooms in Berlin, interactive screens and lots of stone statues. It quite reminded me of the Weeping Angels in Dr. Who! Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 40% discount and children under 18 are free. There’s also free admission the first Wednesday of every month. Tickets are usually €5.00.
The Knoblauchhaus in Berlin. © Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Cornelius M. Braun
The Knoblauchhaus in Berlin.
© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Cornelius M. Braun
  • Visit the Knoblauchaus. I didn’t have enough time this time around but I’ve written about it before. The Knoblauchhaus is a museum and the former residence of the Knoblauch family. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and also one of the few remaining 18th century town houses still standing, and gives visitors a glimpse of Berlin upper-middle class life in the Biedermeier German Romantic era! Entrance is completely free but donations are welcome.
  • Find your way out of the Quarter. Use your map and then walk back up to the Karl Liebknecht Straße.  You can then do four things:

You can walk straight down into a street that will lead you to Hackescher Markt.

You can cross the road and turn slightly to the left and in warmer weather, take a cruise.

You can cross the road and turn left and walk down into the lovely boulevard called Unter den Linden.

The DDR - East German Museum in Berlin.

You can cross the road, turn slightly left, walk along the Liebknechtbrücke (bridge), go down the steps and right in front of you is the DDR Museum. If you can see the Cathedral in front of you and the river, you’re in the right place, if you can’t. Use your map!

  • Visit the DDR Museum. I was lucky to get a personal tour of the museum by the PR spokesperson before the museum opened, as it can get crowded quite quickly.
Die "Schwalbe" or East German moped at the DDR Museum © DDR Museum, Berlin 2015
Die “Schwalbe” or East German moped at the DDR Museum © DDR Museum, Berlin 2015

I loved it! It’s a lively, interactive museum with lots of cubicles with sounds, games, noises and things that you can touch, hold, smell and feel by pressing buttons and flicking or sliding pages with a single finger! The DDR Museum presents everyday life in the former East Germany or GDR experienced by ordinary people focusing on their homes, schools, jobs, politics and family life. It’s the 6th most visited museum in Berlin’s and very popular with teenagers and families with kids. In fact, I spent about 3 hours there myself!

  • Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount and tickets are usually €7.00, online tickets are €5.00. Children pay €4.00.
  • Once you’ve had your fill, go to Hackescher Markt. Have lunch or go shopping. I’ve written about excellent German food in the past and most of the places I mentioned are not too far away. Use your map and the Berlin WelcomeCard or just wander around. There are lots of great little places to eat and boutique / independent vintage shops to rustle through.
©Victorgrigas
©Victorgrigas
  • Take tram M1 or 12 to Sbahnhof Friedrichstrasse or take the train (one stop). Take in the view along the way on a road called Oranienburger Straße. This road is extremely popular with tourists and locals for the nightlife. Bars are hidden on roads linking off Oranienburger Straße and in every corner you will find, brilliant restaurants and trendy hipster bars. This part of Mitte used to be a prominent Jewish area before WWII and only the New Synagogue and various small Jewish outlets remain as the area has been fully gentrified. Not far from here was the Kunsthaus Tacheles which you can see in the film The Fifth Estate played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Germany’s Daniel Brühl. In the old days, it used to be an open air exhibition of metal sculptures, artistic studios, an alternate cinema and a really banging club but it’s closed down and is now a car park!
  • Come back at night and take in the view along the way. Be polite and respectful as this street is known for being a highlight of the sex industry. And just like in Amsterdam. It’s legal.
Drag Queen at THE WYLD in Berlin!
Drag Queen at THE WYLD!
  • Once at the Friedrichstrasse train station, either walk backwards and take in a show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast to watch the glamour and suspense that is THE WYLD or walk backwards and take a river-side stroll and have a drink or two at the riverside bars or at one of Berlin’s political historical bars called Ständige Vertretung. It’s a popular place which we take our friends to, as it’s the only place in Berlin in which you can get top kölsch beer only brewed in the city of Cologne! Use your map and the Berlin WelcomeCard for the Friedrichstadt-Palast and most of the main theatres in Berlin. You get a 25% discount and ticket prices vary depending on seating.
  • From the Friedrichstrasse train station, you can of course, walk straight down. You will see the Dussmann KulturKaufhaus Bookshop. You can buy books and small gifts here and it’s opened until midnight, except on Sunday!
© visitBerlin - Günter Steffen
© visitBerlin – Günter Steffen
  • Continue on until you get to Unter den Linden. Cross the road and go straight down. This is Berlin’s most famous High Street and also the street where East Berlin meets West Berlin. You can either take the underground train for a few stops or keep walking down. If you’re interested in seeing more of Berlin, I recommend walking on. If you easily tire, take the train 3 more stops down.
  • If you’re walking, take in the various car showrooms on both Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. There is the Opel Museum and showroom, and the Automobil Forum.
  • Go further down and nip into a shop or two for a snack, and a drink.
  • If you’re really into it, go to the delightful French Galeries Lafayette department store in Berlin, for oysters, champagne and a little light shopping!
The very famous Checkpoint Charlie border sign English, Russian, French & German, in Berlin!
The very famous Checkpoint Charlie border sign in English, Russian, French & German, in Berlin!
  • Take the underground train two stops down and stop at one of the most iconic stops in all of Berlin – Kochstrasse also known as Checkpoint Charlie!
  • Get your photo taken by the “soldiers” there and really get to grips with the history of Berlin before WWII and after it.
  • Turn right and go into the The Checkpoint Charlie Museum or Mauermuseum – Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. This museum is an exhibition that explores not only the history of the Berlin Wall but also examines infamous escapes from East Germany via hot air balloons, homemade mini-submarines to hidden flaps in cars and even inside a fake cow! Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually €12.50 and children pay €6.50.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
  • Once you’ve finished, go backwards again and follow the many large-format photos and info boards hung up showing photographs of this most famous border crossing point and the impact of the Berlin Wall on the history of Germany . The boards outside are free but you can also go into the Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie. I haven’t been personally, but if you use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 30% discount. Tickets are usually €5.00. and children under 14 are free.
  • Walk on for about 2 minutes, and you will see the fantastic Currywurst Museum which I wrote about last year. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually €11.00 and children pay €7.00: Under 6’s are free. On #MuseumMonday all visitors get a 20 % discount if not discounted prior!
  • Tickets can also be combined with Yadegar Asisi’s Panorama DIE MAUER exhibition which shows the viewer the daily life of people in the vicinity of the Berlin Wall, on a fictitious autumn day in the 1980s. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Individual tickets usually cost €10.00 and children under 6 pay €4.00.
Outside the Trabi Museum in Berlin.
Outside the Trabi Museum in Berlin.
  • After this, turn right down Zimmerstraße and pop into the Trabi Museum which shows a large collection and varieties of trabis. For those of you who don’t know, a trabant also known fondly as a trabi, was a car produced in the former East Germany. It was a small car and very, very robust. It was meant to last a life-time and it did! You can also take photographs at this museum. Whilst there, I was the only visitor!
  • Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 50% discount. Individual tickets usually cost €5.00 and children under 12 are free.
  • Walk further down and you reach Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari.
Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari, in Berlin.
Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari, in Berlin.

This place was amazing. You get to walk and wander around the shop and premises where they not only have trabis but mustangs and special E-cars too.

This is the place where tours start and then, you get to go on a trabi safari.

Yep!

You get to take over the wheels of a trabi!

As most of you know.

I don’t drive!

And I didn’t really think about it when I booked my ticket. Luckily, I was able to sit in with the trabi travelguide – Martin and his young driver – Zauri!

Our convoy of trabis in single file! In Berlin!
Our convoy of trabis in single file! In Berlin!

I arrived about 10 minutes before the safari tour was to actually start. Before the tour takes place there is an introduction of people present and a briefing as to the rules and regulations of driving in Germany, driving a trabi and following the exact instructions of our guide as he speaks through a microphone which can be heard in each and every car. A valid driving licence is necessary.

Our group was the English-speaking combination of people from England and Holland. There was also a German-speaking group.

Our convoy was a single file of 8 cars and our car was an E-car rather than the traditional manual car.

I sat in the back and even though I’m petite, it’s a little small so I’d say about two – three people in the car should be sufficient. We started on the border-corner of Kreuzberg and thus, West Berlin, and then drove to the main tourists sights of Berlin. We drove near the river, we went to Alexanderplatz and the Town Hall, Unter den Linden, Potsdammer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, the Denkmal / Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the War Memorials, Tiergarten, the Reichstag (parliament building), past the oldest hotel in Berlin (the Adlon Hotel), on the Oberbaumbrücke or Oberbaum Bridge over the lovely River Spree  and touching through both Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Both suburbs were extremely important as they were divided by the Berlin Wall otherwise known as East Side Gallery.

In driving a trabi, we even became tourist attractions ourselves!
In driving a trabi, we even became tourist attractions ourselves!

The trabi safari tour was great. And let me just say that Martin – our guide – was a hoot! We got to take photographs and little rest stops. We even became tourist attractions ourselves as a convoy of eight (8) little trabi cars is not something you see everyday.

Highly recommended!

I went on the Berlin Wild East tour but there are a variety of four (4) different tours to choose from.

The tours take 1 hour and 10 minutes and take place on a regular basis, throughout the day. Definitely use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually from €34 – €60.00 per person, depending on how many passengers are in a single car. Children under 15 are free!

That’s all for now.

You can see all the places that I went to previously by following me via #bestofBerlin on Twitter & Facebook.

See ya next week!

This post is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary Berlin WelcomeCard to try out, the experience travelling by an East-German Trabi is all my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I’ll be writing about how to explore Berlin in just 48 hours – DAY TWO!

Yo Ha!

Myself actually being driven in a real Trabi, in Berlin!
Myself actually being driven in a real Trabi, in Berlin!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you have any questions about Berlin, don’t be shy, I’m an expert! Go ahead and ask me!

It’ll be Xmas soon!

Watch this space!

How to spend 48 hours in Berlin - DAY ONE - #bestofBerlin

Have you ever spent 48 hours in Berlin? Do you think it’s enough time to see aspects of #bestofBerlin in two days, or would you stay longer?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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The Long Night of Museums or die Lange Nacht der Museen: How to enjoy a shopping spree of museum loving!

The Natural History Museum, Berlin or Museum für Naturkunde. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz
The Natural History Museum, Berlin or Museum für Naturkunde. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz

As I told you previously May and June are the months in which I concentrate on the lovely city of Berlin and give it as much love as I can muster.

After our lovely break in Poland, I started the month hanging out with Shakespeare. I then went and watched a magnificent production at the Friderichstadt-Palast called SHOW ME, and yesterday, I participated in the very original this-is-Berlin-and-we do-things-in-exciting-ways museum event called: The Long Night of Museums or die Lange Nacht der Museen.

Part of my quip as The British Berliner is that my blog is not only a travel blog or even an expat blog, but that this blog is also a lifestyle blog. My lifestyle; and part of my lifestyle is that I also happen to like culture, history, literature, theatre, and style.

Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.  © Photo: Berlinische Galerie
Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.
© Photo: Berlinische Galerie

For British culture, you only have to turn here. With literature and theatre turn to here. With style, you can’t do any better than the Berlin Fashion Week, and with history well, this post about the Long Night of Museums certainly fits the bill.

WHAT IS THE LONG NIGHT OF MUSEUMS or DIE LANGE NACHT DER MUSEEN?

The Long Night of Museums is a special event that takes place once a year on the Saturday evening before International Museum Day.

It’s a joint event that is organised by the Berlin Museums and Kulturprojekte Berlin and was born in 1997. At this time, up to at least 100 museums, collections, archives, memorials, exhibitions, and galleries, participate in opening their doors to the general public.

Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz
Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik.
© Photo: Sergej Horovitz

BUT WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Well, it’s a marvellous thing about being British because I’m quite used to attending museums and galleries for free. The fact is, Berlin isn’t as wealthy as London but Berlin is a strong and vocal supporter of the arts which is why creative people land in Berlin and stay here.

If you’re a painter, sculpturist, musician, dancer, writer, or struggling actor, you might not be in a Hollywood film but you’ll definitely get AND gain the experience in which to try your luck in Los Angeles or New York!

As such, the Long Night of Museums is not only a wonderful project but a way to give back to the community. On this night Berlin is ablaze with entertainers, fun, games, drinks, snacks, and free transport.

Taking the shuttle bus. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz
Taking the shuttle bus.
© Photo: Sergej Horovitz

You can:

• Use your ticket from 18:00 until 02.00 the next day!

• Use the very same entrance ticket to continue your visit and go to museums on International Museum Day too.

• Go to up to 100 museums, collections, archives, memorials, exhibitions, and galleries, all over the city.

• Take the 40 special shuttle buses covering 6 routes, Call-a-Bikes, mainline and underground trains for free. All night.

• Take the opportunity to glimpse the city lights at night.

• Bask in the vast glory of almost 400 km² of parks, rivers, streets, offices, buildings, and homes.

• Discover new museums and locations.

• Go on a guided tour, do some hands-on activities, or take part in a special programme.

• Take the family.

MACHmit Museum for children. © Foto: MACHmit! Museum für Kinder
MACHmit Museum for children.
© Foto: MACHmit! Museum für Kinder

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND GERMAN?

Nope!

Most of the literature and website pages supplied are in both German and English. Some places even had other world languages too like French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese!

WHERE DID I GO FOR THE NIGHT?

I decided not to go to my favourite museums the German Historical Museum and the Jewish Museum but rather to museums or galleries that I either hadn’t been to or that it has been at least 5 years! I also took along or rather coerced and bribed, “The Tall Young Gentleman” into a restaurant dinner instead of eating at home!

Here goes. I went to:

The Deutsche Bank KunstHalle: An exhibition of international contemporary art. It was a bit too grown-up for “The Tall Young Gentleman” but if you’re interested in art that makes you think. You’ll like it. The exhibition at the moment is Victor Man – Zephir: “Artist of the Year,”- 2014.

Victor Man – Zephir
Victor Man – Zephir

The Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin: An excellent interactive museum for all the family showing us the history of Berlin’s most famous “imbiss” dish. You can learn how currywurst is made, smell it, watch a film about it. You can even attempt to sell it, and play around with the french fries and chips!

As you can imagine, we spent rather a long time here. 2 hours to be precise! Old “kids” and young will love it, and you can have chocolate and curry ice-cream!

All you need is a plate of Berlin's delicious speciality - currywurst.
All you need is a plate of Berlin’s delicious speciality – currywurst. Yum!

Mauermuseum – Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie: This is one of Berlin’s most important museum as it documents the history of Berlin as a divided city, the building of the Berlin Wall, and the ingenious ways that East Germans tried to escape to the West. This exact spot was the border of East and West Berlin.

I didn’t actually go in this time around but spent most of my time outside the museum taking pictures of the Checkpoint Charlie signposts, and chatting with the uniformed “soldiers” from whom you can have your photo taken, and your passport stamped. You can also buy huge fluffy Russian hats and American pilot goggles!

At Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.
At Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.

Knoblauchhaus: This house is one of the few remaining 18th century houses of it’s kind, and was donated to the city of Berlin by the Knoblauch family. If you’re interested in middle-class life and business, then this museum would be a good one to go to.

I really enjoyed walking around late at night in this beautiful quarter, and letting my imagination run riot. This house is located in one of Berlins’ most untouched, unbombed, and historically protected quarter. This quarter is called Nikolaiviertel or Nikolai Quarter which was founded in 1200.

The interior of Museum Knoblauchhaus, Berlin. Photo: Michael Setzpfandt / Stadtmuseum Berlin
The interior of Museum Knoblauchhaus, Berlin.
Photo: Michael Setzpfandt / Stadtmuseum Berlin

Berliner Rathaus or the Red Town Hall: I hadn’t actually planned to go to the city Town Hall at all but it’s been a while since I’ve been there and I happened to be passing by, so I popped in anyway.

The Berliner Rathaus is the official seat and office of the Lord Mayor – Klaus Wowereit – and also the seat of the Berlin Senate. The power of a city is in it’s Town Hall and with chandeliers, grand pianos, paintings and statues from 1790, you certainly feel the power and strength.

 The Berliner Rathaus or the Red Town Hall in Berlin.
The Berliner Rathaus or the Red Town Hall in Berlin.

Centum Judaicum or the The Neue Synagoge: We all know the awful history of the Jewish people in the city and this synagogue is a testimony to that. Built in 1866, the synagogue was awfully damaged in World War II and was finally restored in 1995. It’s permanent exhibition documents the history of Berlin’s Jewish community.

I really wanted to go and see it but by 01:00, I was exhausted and so I decided to go to my last museum and exhibition for the night, in another Jewish museum, closer to where I actually was.

The Neue Synagoge, Berlin.
The Neue Synagoge, Berlin.

Anne Frank Zentrum: The exhibition “Ann Frank. Here & Now” shows the world the life and bravery of Ann Frank, her family, and her friends from the writings of her personal diary – Anne Frank’s Diary.

It was an emotional but essential museum to go to, showing the lifestyle and suffering of upper middle-class Jewish families and in fact, every Jewish family living in Europe at that time.

Well worth seeing even if you’ve been to Anne’s original home in Amsterdam, as I have.

Anne-Frank
Anne-Frank

MY VERDICT?

A fantastic weekend for all the family.

I love going to the museum. I love history.

Sure, I have my favourites in that I prefer the old, classical stuff and archives, depicting the anthropology of how people lived of old. Having said that though, going to a museum or gallery is a wonderful way to take in the history and culture of a people. It’s also a way to enjoy the secrets and pride of a nation.

I’ve been privy to private museum collections, the original collections of Andy Warhol, the Museum of Modern Arts, New York, the Guggenheim collection, Rembrandt, Ruben, Picasso, French art of the 18th and 19th century, Byzantine Art, German Jewish culture, the first computer, pieces of the original Berlin Wall, the original 300 BC bust of Queen Nefertiti of Ancient Egypt, the Friedrich Christian Flick modern art collection, the artistic paintings of Francis Bacon, and the horror of war, prejudice, and suffering.

For a person that isn’t a fan of modern art, it seems that I actually go to see rather quite a lot LOL!

The Long Night of Museums is only once a year but if you would like to visit our museums and galleries when you visit, please check the website here for the complete list of Berlin’s museums, exhibitions, galleries, and memorials.

All federal state museums, as well as the National Museums or Staatlichen Mussen in Berlin and the German Historical Museum, offer free admission to young people up to the age of 18. At other museums, children and students get a discount.

All Berlin memorial sites, regional museums, as well as a small amount of historical museums and collections, are also free of charge. There is also free entrance on the first Monday or Wednesday of the month for some museums. Check here for more details.

Please note that many museums, but not all, museums are closed on Mondays.

WHAT IF MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES REALLY AREN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Hardly a problem. There are a million and one other things to do in Berlin. I’ll be writing more about those things for the rest of May and June.

For more information about the delightful night event please contact: Long Night of Museums.

For more information about where to visit, for cultural history and art. Please contact: museums and galleries in Berlin.

The Berliner Dom at Night. © Foto: Sergej Horovitz
The Berliner Dom at Night.
© Foto: Sergej Horovitz

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the Chinese chicken and noodles I bought at 02:15, are my very own!

Every week for the months of May and June, I’ll be writing about summer time in Berlin, and what to do when you get here.

Next week, I will be going on a walking tour with a difference and writing about the grungy, hippy, rock life-style parts of Berlin! I will also be watching a new modernized performance of Mozart.

At the end of May, Berlin will be hosting a Travel Massive bloggers event so if you’re in town, come join us on 27.05.14.

As a grand month finale, I will also be covering the Berlin Music Video Awards 2014, taking place between 28.05.14 – 31.05.2014.

It’s going to be amazing.

Watch this space!

Myself at the Lustgarten, Berlin.
Myself at the Lustgarten, Berlin.

Have you ever been in a museum at night? When was the last time you went to a museum, gallery or exhibition?

Are you coming for the summer? See you in Berlin.

If you like this post.

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