Berlin, Germany May 2015

by Emma Bumpus on June 7, 2015

Summer booms from the streets of this ‘happening’ city as careertraveller and family step up a gear in Germany’s electrifying capital!

First impressions? Blockbuster landmarks, upbeat streets brimming with sunny coloured trams amidst a plethora of eclectic funky cosmopolitan shops, hotels and eateries. Instant attraction!

Reams of international cuisine from Asian to Indian to American and European, intermingled with legendary currywurst (frankfurter with currysauce) is a fusion of East meets West flavours that define this vibrant avant-garde metropolis.

A cauldron of culture initiates a check-in at the Berliner Hof Hotel in the western district is a fashionable introduction to the inner city’s Tauentzienstraße, a bustling boulevard gleaming with boutiques, encircled with monuments and leafy green Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest landscaped park.

Modern and spaciously family friendly we are impressed with the hotel’s relaxed hospitality, free WiFi and extensive tourist information, the type that perfects a three-day city break.

A fifth floor breakfast room decorated with garden fresh colours is a calm oasis of good-looking European sustenance, sweet and and savoury. Appetising German bread including pumpernickel and warm Brötchen (rolls) complement the continental pastries, cheese, salami and salad, including choice of hot breakfast on request.

Equipped with a supplementary gym below, offering personal trainers, local running trails and adjacent wellness spa, everything flows at the Berliner Hof Hotel, which explains why Berlin is Germany’s champion number one for overnight stays.

Outside stands proud the famous ‘Berlin’ sculpture, which unveiled in 1987 exhibits a ‘broken chain’ that symbolises the devastating effects of the Berlin Wall.

Where the eye meets KaDeWe, Berlin’s largest swanky department store and nineteenth century neo Romanesque Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, nicknamed ‘hohle Zahn’ (The Hollow Tooth) by Berliners, we feel smug between Charlottenburg and Mitte, just 2 of Berlin’s 12 boroughs.

A city of 96 districts, referred to as ‘kievs’ by locals who identify by their preferred neighbourhood, is distinctively jam-packed with art, history, regeneration and tourism in the heart of Europe, which explains the 11.9 million visitors Berlin recorded in 2014.

A swift five minute walk to Germany’s oldest Zoological Garden reveals the conspicuous 25 Hours Bikini Berlin Hotel whose trendy entrance displays a life-size Mini and kiosk with words “Welcome to the Jungle”. Unique and unconventional, we enter an elevator that transports us to the top floor Monkey Bar where all is revealed with contrasting panoramic views of the zoo monkeys, green belt Tiergarten and urban inner city hustle and bustle. Stunningly sophisticated and artistic, it becomes clear why Berlin comes third place in the European ranking after London and Paris.

Resisting the neighbouring easy access Zoologischer Garten S-Bahn railway station in favour of a fleeting city sightseeing tour bus, we hop on-board and activate the celebrated Berlin Welcome Card. This golden ticket of a pass offers stress free public travel and massive discounted admission to delicious city attractions, restaurants, theatres and tours galore.

From the roof of a double decker bus we feel the city’s rhythm that stems from diverse nationalities, cuisine, entertainment and architecture. Old and new buildings everywhere chronicle history, revealing a cutting-edge culture born out of reunification, freedom of expression and desire for the arts. From iconic 1960s skyscraper Television Tower to Brandenberg Gate, an eighteenth century neo classical triumphal arch that reopened it’s gate with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we discover Berlin.

Every corner tells a story through a multitude of exhibitions, street art and monuments, including the Holocaust Memorial whose concrete grave-like stones commemorate the lives of the murdered Jews of the Holocaust.

Checkpoint Charlie is refuel pit stop of German heritage like no other. Streets lined with tourist shops are encircled by fragmented sections of the Berlin Wall, alongside photographic displays of Second World and Cold War atrocities in the form of the Topography of Terror and careertraveller favourite Wall Panorama. This visionary stroke of genius comes in the form of a cylindrical steel rotunda displaying 360° paintings of everyday life on the East and West Berlin border. German artist Yadegar Asisi creates a hauntingly accurate account of daily life in the German-Soviet vicinity from real life experience. Emotional stirring, and liberating, it is easy to understand why so many people revisit this compelling capital.

A tender boat tour of the River Spree across the city is our chance to admire further city gems in the Government Quarter with the Reichstag, UNESCO Museum Island and stunning Cathedral. Discovering Berlin’s largest church was laid in 1894, partly bombed in World War II and fully restored in 1993, we find peace and romance within this wonderful German capital.

Further information:

Details of Berlin’s sights and attractions can be found on the official tourist board website Visit Berlin.

To book a stay at the Berliner Hof Hotel click on their website Berliner Hof Hotel.

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