How to spend 48 hours in Berlin – DAY TWO and WIN 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages! – #bestofBerlin

 

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.
On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

I’m back again!

Last week, I wrote about my experience of how to spend 48 hours in Berlin – #bestofBerlin, as of part of the tourism initiative to discover new and old parts of Berlin.

If you’re just joining, here’s the lowdown:

The Berlin campaign was based on 48 hours i.e two (2) days, so let’s so let’s not waste anymore time and go into the second day:

HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN BERLIN – DAY TWO: #bestofBerlin

A Christmas Market killer!
A Christmas Market killer!

First of all, read the first part of DAY ONE here.

Leave your hotel, hostel or apartment and take a bus, tram or train. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard transport ticket.

Start at Brandenburger Tor or Brandenburg Gate which is Berlin’s most iconic monument. Take a couple of pictures at Pariser Platz so-named ‘cos of the anti-Napoleon occupation of Paris in 1814! There’s bound to be carriages, horses, cycle rickshaws, beerbikes and sometimes even a Berlin Bear hanging around. However, it’s Germany so don’t except jugglers, bubbles or Luke Skywalker to be walking down the street!

Berlin's most iconic Brandenburg Gate - Let the good times roll!
Berlin’s most iconic Brandenburg Gate – Let the good times roll!

Turn right and cross the street, you will find yourself staring at the Reichstag or Berlin’s most beautiful Bundestag or Parliament Building. You can visit the roof terrace and glass dome built by the most talented British architect Norman Foster now known as Baron Foster of Thames Bank of Reddish! It’s free of charge but if you haven’t booked in advance, you can register at the Visitors’ Service office nearby but be prepared to queue! Oh, and bring your passport or international I.D!

After that, walk straight down and stroll along the Straße des 17. Juni surrounded by Tiergarten – Berlin’s largest park and urban garden built in 1527! It used to be the hunting grounds of the nobility and the location of the world’s most popular electronic dance music festival. Yes, the Love Parade.

Gosh! Those were the days!

Through the canal at the Tiergarten in Berlin.
Through the canal at the Tiergarten in Berlin.

Tiergarten is now a most lovely park which you can cycle through, hire a boat on the lake (Berlin has many wonderful rivers and lakes), see the birds and animals (as the zoo and city aquarium are next door), jog through, or have tea at the English Garden!

If you stay on the left hand side, you will go into the park and garden and see many historical statues and 19th century gas lanterns. If you stay on the right hand side, you will see many Soviet war memorials, and straight in front of you is the Siegessäule or the Victory Column. For a small fee you can climb all 270 steps. Take a few photographs.

Walk back to Brandenburger Tor or use the Berlin WelcomeCard and take the train or bus.

From Brandenburger Tor, cross the road and turn left. You will see the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a memorial field of 2,711 concrete pillars of various heights. There is also an information centre of historical films, photographic documents and video interviews with survivors of the Holocaust.

Potsdamer Platz around 1900 in Berlin.
Potsdamer Platz around 1900 in Berlin. And there’s the clock!

Further on you will find yourself walking into a most important part of Berlin – Potsdamer Platz built in 1838. It’s interesting to note that whenever you see black & white 20th century photographs of Berlin, you can always see that clock.

It’s still there!

Stroll around. Go shopping at the Mall of Berlin or LP12 – the largest shopping mall in Germany and for kids, the Cinestar IMAX and Cinestar Original (English), Legoland, the Museum of Film and Television, and the best of all, the new German Spy Museum Berlin!

Take a break at any of the many restaurants, cafe, and bars then take a bus or train back to Brandenburger Tor.

The library © Hotel Adlon Kempinski.
The library © Hotel Adlon Kempinski.

In front of Brandenburger Tor on your right, is one of Europe’s most famous hotels. Think Michael Jackson almost dropping his child – Blanket – over the hotel balcony in 2002, think Queen Elizabeth, think actors, celebrities and multi-millionaires. In fact, I once literally bumped into Hugh Grant right outside the hotel front door myself. I tried to follow him and get an on-the-stop interview but I was wearing a football shirt at the time and security saw the glint in my eye! Yes, the 5-star Hotel Adlon Kempinski. Under normal circumstances, they’re brilliant.

I once strolled in with no shoes on (it’s a long story) and they didn’t even bat an eye lol!

With Brandenburger Tor behind you, walk down a very long boulevard road called Unter den Linden. I absolutely love walking down this very old iconic historical road as it takes you from West Germany – Tiergarten, into East Germany – Alexanderplatz. I wrote about that area last week. Continue walking passing Madame Tussaud’s on the left hand side and the embassy’s of four (4) world powers (certainly as far as Berlin is concerned), America, France, Russia and Great Britain, on the right hand side. Continue your stroll and take your time. It’s a bit of a long walk but it’ll be worth it as you’ll pass the Komische Oper, art galleries and smart shops. You will then see a very long street that cuts across. This is Friedrichstrasse. I wrote about this last week. Turn left and you will get to the High Street which will lead you to Checkpoint Charlie. Turn right, and it will lead you to Friedrichstrasse Main Train Station. Walk straight down on Unter den Linden and this will lead you to the area known as the Upper Eastside. It used to look really awful and drab in the 90’s but how, times have changed!

The Museumsinsel or Museum Island © visitBerlin - Wolfgang Scholvien
The Museumsinsel or Museum Island in Berlin, Germany. © visitBerlin – Wolfgang Scholvien

Walk further on and you will pass some of the most beautiful regent buildings in Berlin such as the Kronprinzenpalais or Crown Prince’s Palace, the Prinzessinnenpalais or Princesses’ Palace also known as the Opernpalais or the Opera Palace which hosts free open-air opera in the summer. (It’s brilliant!) and the Prince Heinrich Palace, which is now known as the elite Humboldt University! You’ll see the Armoury (the oldest surviving) and most important baroque 1706 building and now known as (one of my faves) the Deutsches Historisches Museum or the national German Historical Museum.

You’ll pass a bridge with lots of statues called the Schloßbrücke or Palace Bridge. It was built around 1800 and is certainly attractive but in my mind, not as outstanding as Charles Bridge in Prague, but acceptable, nevertheless! From the bridge you can see the magnificent Museumsinsel or Museum Island with it’s five (5) wonderful collections of UNESCO heritage museums.

To go to these museums, turn left.

Tango Dancing at the StrandBar in Mitte Monbijou Park. © visitBerlin - Günter Steffen
Tango Dancing at the StrandBar in Mitte Monbijou Park.
© visitBerlin – Günter Steffen

Turn left again and follow the river around, you will find another bridge called the Monbijoubrücke or Monbijou Bridge. This is a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the River Spree and connects Monbijoupark with the Museum Island. It’s right next to the Bode Museum and if you cross it you’ll come to a place called the StrandBar or Beach Bar. It’s open throughout the year but better in the summer of course. It’s more a river-side “beach” but there are deck chairs (free of charge) facing the river, an open air theatre (in German), but it’s all pretty bohemian and out there, and with a few glasses of wine or bottles of beer down you, you’ll get what they’re talking about and if not, well, the novelty is all the fun! This beach bar also has free open air tango dancing, swing and salsa. And anyone can participate. I can actually do a few steps of the tango but I wouldn’t dare. Those people are good!

For night-time activity, from the StrandBar, turn right. The road in front of you will lead you to Oranienburgerstrasse. Turn right again, for small cocktail bars, nicely-priced restaurants, discrete speakeasy bars and ladies of the night. Turn left towards Berlin’s New Synagogue,  various small Jewish outlets and Hackescher Markt. This will lead you to Hackesche Höfe and the backyards of tiny little bars selling beer for €2.00 or less. You’re going to have to look closer though as this Quarter is now gentrified!

SHOW ME: Bursting through water at the Friedrichstadt-Palast. © Robert Grischek
SHOW ME: Bursting through water at the Friedrichstadt-Palast.
© Robert Grischek

Having said that smoky little back bars are everywhere as well as vintage boutiques, bohemian shops, independent cinemas and burlesque cabarets. Berlin of the 1920’s and 30’s is right in front of your eyes! Use the Berlin WelcomeCard.

If you’re go back to outside the Deutsches Historisches Museum or the national German Historical Museum, on the right-hand side of Unter den Linden, you will see the re-building of the Palace of the Republic. On the left-hand side, you should walk straight down and hop onto the Lustgarten park and sprawl onto the grass which is right in front of the Berliner Dom or the Berlin Cathedral. And as I told you last week, if you can see the Cathedral in front of you, you’re right next to the DDR Museum and you’ve come full circle!

After a bit of a rest there are a few museums and galleries that I would like to recommend. There are so many great places that I would do them injustice if I didn’t write about them properly so I’m going to write an extra post about them next week but if you can’t wait, here’s a spoiler….

Outside the Märkisches Museum - Lord Roland of Brandenburg or perhaps just a sword-holding knight depicting the privelage of Berlin in the Middle Ages!
Outside the Märkisches Museum – Lord Roland of Brandenburg or perhaps just a sword-holding knight depicting the privilege of Berlin in the Middle Ages!

Take the train and go to an underground station called Märkisches Museum. 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.

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

Oh, and up until a few weeks ago, there was a bear living there. A real live bear!

Until it passed away!

Berlin WelcomeCard IV (2)

If it’s your first visit to Berlin? You’re spoilt for choice. You know how much I love this town and that is why I’m giving away 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages to be validated by December 31st, 2015, at the latest.

Suuuuurprise!

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!

To take part, you need to subscribe to The British Berliner and either tell me why you would like to win the tickets on my blog here, on my Twitter feed attached to this post, or on my FaceBook page, also attached to this post. The person that I think gives me the wittiest or funniest reason, wins!

Only comments attached to this post will be considered.

You have until 12:00 or 12p.m. on December 27th and the announcement will be made on the blog on December 28th. The winners will meet me personally and receive the tickets on the evening of December 27th, anywhere in Berlin!

Good Luck!

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

See ya next week!

Oh, and have a wonderful festive season with you and yours.

Merry Xmas One and All!

We love my blog!

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

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

How to spend 48 hours in Berlin - DAY TWO and WIN 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages! - #bestofBerlin

Would you like to win two (2) Berlin WelcomeCard #bestofBerlin tickets? What would you do and where would you go?

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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Oh, but the Highlands are bonny!

The last post I wrote was about the fact that the weather was less than, shall we say, “sunny” and we needed to compensate that by going to a distillery.

Today, however, was a day to step outside and see what the Highlands and as a result Inverness, had to offer.

Buildings of history
Buildings of history

What do we know about the Highlands?

Well, in the good old days, the wild and rugged nature of the land led to the separation of the Highlanders into small groups called clans. Each clan was ruled by a chief, and the members of a clan claimed descent from a common ancestor. Indeed, the gathering of the more than 100 clans, is a fascinating tourist attraction.

At these gatherings, athletes wear kilts which is the traditional garment of the Highland clansmen. The kilt is a short, pleated skirt worn by men and a little longer for women, which is suitable for climbing rough hills, rocks and terrains.  Each clan has its own colourful pattern – called a tartan – which is a traditional woven cloth.

An impressive kilt!
An impressive kilt!

Today the kilt is not only rural clothing but a national costume proudly worn by Scottish people, for special occasions like weddings and ceremonies.

Inverness is the capital of the Highlands and every summer, the Highlanders roll out the Inverness Highland Games and compete in such ancient Highland sports as throwing the hammer, tossing the caber which is a long, heavy pole, playing the bagpipes and taking part in Highland dancing, which all add wonderful colour and interest to the gatherings.

As far as we were concerned, it was time to look around the local area and finally go on our river walk. It is possible to do a 11.5 km / 7 mile walk on the bank of the River Ness, the Caledonian Canal (considered to be a masterpiece of canal engineering and one of the world’s greatest waterways), and leading to the coast. It would take you on an interesting walk of the canal and river side paths, and would take a minimum of 4 hours in one direction.

Serious fishing.
Serious fishing.

Inverness is great.

One minute you’re standing right next to the Inverness Castle and a few minutes later, you’re looking at seals!

We decided to keep it short and interesting and only do the Ness Island Circular Walk in conjunction with my own version of the Inverness Historic Trail.

The Ness Island Walk
The Ness Island Walk

The first thing we saw on our walk was an Angler. An Angler is a fisherman. He was really nice and chatty and even strode out of the river to take a photograph with “The Tall Young Gentleman”. We kept bumping into him and his mates too, as for the rest of the afternoon; various strangers would honk and wave!

An Angler
An Angler

Salmon fishing is pretty common on the banks of Inverness and a story goes that one fisherman caught salmon which was over 64lbs. Happily; he put it back into the river. Wow!

Two males and a fishing rod!
Two males and a fishing rod!

We started our walk on the Ness Bridge which gave us beautiful views of the Inverness Castle on the opposite side of the river. We also saw many of the towns’ historical churches some stemming from the 12th century!

The Inverness Castle
The Inverness Castle

I do love walking.

I especially like walking by the river, sea, lake, brook or canal and as I told you previously in my post about Berlin, I do love places with water and the Ness Island Walk was perfect for it. We could walk on the watery shore. We could flick pebbles into the sea. We could watch the seagulls. We could watch the Anglers standing in the river. We could go salmon fishing (with a permit of course). We could also breathe in the Scottish air and let the sun rest on our faces.

Walking along the water.
Walking along the water.

Wonderful stuff!

There was a bit of a breeze but nothing that a wee drab of whisky couldn’t sort out.

O.K. So we went over the footbridge and crossed into the Ness Island itself. The Scottish word for Ness Island is Eileanan Abhainn Nis.

One of the many footbridges.
One of the many footbridges.

The Ness Island is famous for spotting seals, seagulls and other wild animals and is a brilliant place to spot pheasants and wildfowl. It is also a collection of small islands located in the middle of the river and is a natural beauty spot. Each island is connected to one another by a host of suspension foot bridges.

A place of beauty.
A place of beauty.

The first bridge to the islands was built in 1828. Previously to this, the only way to get there was by boat! The bridges give for a good view of various angles of the islands and are very environmentally friendly, as only foot passengers and cyclists can go on these footbridges. The islands are also homes to bats, otters and sometimes deer.

A deer of human origin!
A deer of human origin!

There is also the Bught Park, the Inverness War Memorial from the “Great War” as it’s known in Britain or WWI, and the Floral Hall. The Floral Hall is a sub tropical horticultural garden treasure with small waterfalls, fish, plants and trees and a pretty little tea room, in case you’re thirsty!

Part of the garden.
Part of the garden.

At the end of the Ness Island Walk, we went up to Inverness Castle.

Did you know that Inverness began as a 6th century Pictish settlement?

Failth, Hope & Charity.
Failth, Hope & Charity.

Did you know that “the first” Inverness Castle was destroyed in 1307 by Robert the Bruce?

Did you know that in the 15th century, the castle was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots?

Did you know that the castle was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746, leaving only a well and the stairway?

Did you know that the Inverness town steeple was built in 1791 but because of an earthquake in 1816, actually leans? Legend has it that beneath the weather cock is a bottle of whisky!

Did you even know that Inverness Castle is not actually open to the public, it’s not even “a castle” in the technical sense, but is actually the city’s prison, police station and centre for justice?

Even though the Castle is not open to the public, you are allowed to walk on it’s grounds in which you can see lovely views of Inverness such as the Highland Cathedral, an Iron Age fort and the Eden Court Theatre.

Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle

Information about the Ness Island Circular Walk can be found in pretty much every Inverness map and on: http://www.explore-inverness.com/what-to-do/outdoors/ness-island-walk/. It’s a pretty and scenic walk with no extra clothing necessary. Bring a camera. Depending on pace and what you want to see: Takes about 1-2 hours. Price: Totally and wonderfully, Free! Free!! Free!!!

Information about The Inverness Historic Trail can also be found in pretty much every walking map and on: http://www.explore-inverness.com/what-to-do/outdoors/inverness-historic-trail/ or http://www.explore-inverness.com/media/8185/Historic%20Trial%20and%20Map%20PDF.pdf. The centre of Inverness is tiny, compact, walkable and easy to get around. Give yourself an hour or two as there are lots of historical buildings that date back centuries, dotted around pretty frequently. Bring a camera. No need to take out your wallets and purses except to buy a cup of tea, some sandwiches, and pehaps a pint or two to quench your thirst. Price: Nothing!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.

Oh, but the Highlands are bonny! Have you participated in the Highland Games? Have you ever worn a kilt?

Sunny Me!
Sunny Me!

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