Slavseeing Tours

Berlin

The whole city in one day. Does it make sense?

Guten Tag!

We get on train in Wroclaw and start a race against time! 

09/08/2020

By Pawel

In my first post, I would like to share a reflection on one-day city breaks with you. This is due to the fact that I spent most of my life in Wrocław – a city which is not only the capital of the universe, but also a great starting point for exploring the whole of Central Europe! I have experience and as they used to say in an old Polish movie “a great talent in the subject”. Prague, Kraków, Dresden and Warsaw are just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities! But today let’s focus on Berlin!

 

On a frosty December morning, we show up at the Wroclaw railway station. Later this day we will return to the same place on a frosty December evening. Polish railways took us on this trip as for the first time in my life they had finally established a sensible connection on the Wrocław-Berlin route! The task we set ourselves was quite risky and required good planning. Our goal was to complete all the highlights of the city, including clubbing in Neukelln and feasting in Markhalle Neun in just eight hours!

what will you find out?
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How to plan one perfect day in Berlin?

What to see, what to let go?

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Why did the renovation of the Holocaust Memorial cause such emotions?

The map shows the way we visited Berlin.

The numbers correspond to the sub-items in the description below. At the bottom of the page I attach google maps.

The map shows the way we visited Berlin.

The numbers correspond to the sub-items in the description below. At the bottom of the page I attach google maps.

sightseeing

How to see the whole of Berlin in a few hours and did we succeed?

Just like us! Obviously it’s impossible to visit every interesting place, but if you like challenges and prepare yourself diligently like for the Berlin Marathon…(as a three-time marathon runner, I recommend it!)

Okay, time to get to the point, let’s take a tour!

1. 10:15am , Berlin Hauptbahnhof

 

Berlin Central Station, a modern and huge construction, was built before the 2006 World Cup. From the main entrance, we went straight to the nearby Bundestag. We might as well cover this route by subway. Not just any subway though, because the U55 line which has only 3 stops is considered the shortest in the world.

 

1a. 10:25am , Bundestag

 

On our way, there are symbols of the German capital. First is the Reichstag, the symbol of a united Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, on October 6th 1990 the German Bundestag decided to move the parliament and government from Bonn to Berlin, and therefore to move the Bundestag to the Reichstag building. If you have more time, it is worth signing up in advance and exploring the German parliament from inside. The building is impressive from the outside too and this must have been enough for Monika. I’ve had the opportunity to be inside twice and it’s worth it!

 

1b. 10:35am  Brandenburg Gate

 

Another symbol, built as the Gate of peace and freedom, which cannot be surprising. After all, the peoples living in these lands have always been famous for pacifism 😉 Once, the middle passage of the gate was reserved exclusively for members of the royal family and high-ranking officials. Ordinary citizens were allowed to walk only the two outermost passages. Now there are no such rules and Monika, like a modern Napoleon, has dignified herself through the middle.

 

1c. 10:45am  Unter Den Linden

 

Unter den Linden, an alley under the linden trees, but definitely without lame shops! The one dedicated to the Ampelmännchen, (a character from Berlin traffic lights) is truly awesome. This place is truly Berlin’s Champs-Élysées, oh, Champs-Élysées.

1d. 10:50am Gendarmenmarkt

 

If you came to Berlin for shopping instead of how we did – flying rapidly through  Friedrichstraße, the main shopping street of the city; then you can explore it slower. In any case, that’s how we reached the most beautiful square of Berlin: this is Gendarmenmarkt. What you will find here is concert halls, churches and in Christmas time weihnachtsmarkt.

 

1e. 11:10am Museum Island

 

The Museum Island in Berlin is a complex that includes the Bode Museum, the Pergamon Museum, the New Museum, the Old National Gallery and the Old Museum. I guess your choice here is ‘all Berlin in 8 hours’ or Alte Nationalgalerie.

1f. 11:20am  Stadtschloss

 

To say its story is turbulent would be putting it lightly. It’s extremely turbulent to say the least! In 1945, the burned palace could have been rebuilt. However, due to the decree on the palace issued by the secretary general, Walter Ulbricht, the remains were demolished. In its place, it was decided to raise the Palace of the Republic, the construction of which was completed in 1976.

Its existence, although rich as it was the most exclusive place in the entire GDR, was nevertheless short. In 2002, the Bundestag decided that it should be on its place. The demolition was complicated because the old building contained asbestos. The form of the new building also aroused great controversy among Berliners.

 

1g. 11:30am  Rothes Rathaus

 

Moving on towards Alexanderplatz, we saw the red palace. The building was reconstructed to its original state in the 1950s, and during the Cold War it was the seat of the municipal government of East Berlin. After the reunification of Germany and the unification of the city administration, it officially became the seat of the entire Berlin city council.

2. 11:40am  Alexanderplatz

 

After over an hour’s walk we got to Alexanderplatz – a large communication junction in the eastern part of the city. The townspeople are surprised a bit by its popularity among tourists. It is considered one of the ugliest places, and they say only the crime rate here is higher than the TV tower above it.

“How did your adventure with public transport in Berlin start?’

Our adventure began as usual and it looked like this: a person buys a day ticket for 8 Euros in the machine and then tries to catch up with the complicated system of Berlin railways and buses. I like all subways, railways and public transport systems in large metropolises, and Berlin’s is one of my favorites. So what can I say? I enjoyed myself!

 

2a. 11:50am  Hackesche Höfe

 

It’s just one stop away from Alexanderplatz by S-Bahn. Interesting neighborhood but the passage itself, apart from nice shops of local artists, offers nothing new to people of Wroclaw. The Pokoyhof passage in the capital of Lower Silesia offers a very similar visual experience. There is an atmospheric flea market by the S-Bahn station, where we did not hesitate to taste the Berlin bratwurst. In the end, we returned to the station to reach Zoo Bahnhof after a dozen or so minutes.

 

3. 12:30  Zoo Bahnhof

 

The main station of west Berlin welcomed us with sunshine and a festive atmosphere. However, many people, us among them, associate it with the movie and the book “We Children from Bahnhof Zoo”. This film was one of the strongest I watched before I was 16. It is about a group of teenagers addicted to heroin. In addition, it takes the audience to the times when Dawid Bowie and Iggy Pop resided in West Berlin.

I understand well what could have attracted them to Berlin in the 1980s. Anyway, this city is like a magnet to this day. At the same time, it is not a typical European capital full of charming streets like Paris or Rome. Interestingly, this does not harm its popularity in any way and it is the third most visited city in Europe by tourists. By the way, I will provide a list of better and worse movies that you should watch before a trip to Berlin – “Wings of Desire”, “Run Lola, run”, “Goodbye Lenin”, “Berlin calling”.

3a. 13:10 Potsdamer Platz

 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Roger Waters staged a gigantic free concert on July 21 the following year, entitled The Wall to celebrate the end of the division into West Germany and East Germany. It is worth checking out on YouTube, I personally have a DVD of this event. The concert took place in an empty Potsdamer Platz square which was soon filled with modern office buildings and a shopping mall.

 

Near the square there is a monument to the victims of the Holocaust with a very interesting story. The 2,711 concrete slabs, despite the constant police patrol on the spot, needed a protective layer against graffiti. The public tender for the works was won by the chemical company Degussa from Frankfurt am Main. Soon after, a scandal broke out as it was revealed that the same company produced the famous Zyklon-B and melted the seals of the murdered Jews into gold bars. Everyone protested, the rebellions were endless. As usual in life, there was only one way to fix it –  by money. And so Degussa applied an anti-spray coating to the monument blocks for free.

 

3b. 13:20  Topographie des Terrors

4. 13:40 Checkpoint Charlie

 

Further on our way we encountered Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most famous border crossings in the world. Despite the fact that this place does not dazzle by itself, its history (in 1961, hostile powers had the barrels of their tanks aimed at each other and it was close to the outbreak of World War III) as well as remains of the Cold War, including border booths and signs, make it wise to come here. At this point, we envied the Berliners a bit of the slack lifestyle and decided to buy a beer in a kiosk for street consumption. Before I could reach into my pocket for a lighter, a passerby handed me a key ring with an opener. Such things only in Berlin.

5. 14:20 Schlesisches tor


The infamous funicular station, located on the northeastern tip of former West Berlin. Located in the most fashionable and trendy district of Berlin – Kreuzberg. Despite the terrible reputation and ugliness of the place, it has to be admitted that it is cool in some way and there are many local bars to start your night out here in Kreuzberg!

5a. 14:40 East side Gallery

 

We crossed the bridge over the Spree river and we saw the so-called Eastside Gallery. Famous graffiti painted on the Berlin Wall. Some of them have a permanent place in pop culture and have gained cult status. The gallery is 1.5 kilometers long and is probably the largest in the world.

6. 15:20 Boxhagener Platz (Freidrichshain)

 

We took a bus the Ostbahnhof to reach the heart of the increasingly fashionable district of Freidrichshain. The square is surrounded by trendy bars and pubs, and a flea market is organized in the middle. We constantly associated Freidrichshain with Wrocław, especially the Nadodrze district. The topic of the similarity of these two cities is fascinating and one day I will definitely explore it on the pages of the slavseeing blog.

6a. 15:40 Lichtenberg

 

We spent only a few minutes here, changing from the tram to the S-Bahn, but Nowa Huta or Moscow’s blocks of flats can envy the severity of the socialist realist landscape of this district. A Scottish co-author of this website would be delighted.

 

6b. 16:00 Neukolln

 

It took us several minutes to teleport to the suburbs of Istanbul. Neukelln district under stong Turkish influence made just that impression. At this point, however, it is worth mentioning that, as in many other European capitals there is a trend for rehabilitating and moving into the “worst” neighborhoods. Neukelln is gaining supporters these days. Some believe that this is where the artistic soul of the city should be sought, rather than in the commercializing Kreuzberg.

7. 16:15 Klunkerkranich

 

Confirmation of these words can be found on the roof of a local shopping mall. This is where Berliners’ favorite pub is located. The place is extraordinary and it is definitely worth spending more than the hour that was given to us. It offers a panoramic view of the whole of Berlin, and the local bohemians hang out here from early afternoon until late at night.

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7a. 17:30 Oranienstraße

 

We are back in Kreuzberg and we follow Oranienstraße in the trail of the alternative lifestyle of Berliners. It’s hard not to stop for a beer and grab a bite to eat. Let us admit one thing, there is no conventional beauty here and even the German order is lost somewhere among the mohawks, tattoos, earrings and millions of subcultures. I don’t think I have felt such acceptance for all lifestyles like here anywhere! I first visited Berlin when I was 10 years old and I remember that my parents let me shave my head halfway short and leave the other part shaggy. Not a single person looked back in the street.

 

7b. 17:40 Markthalle Neun

 

A market hall in the heart of crazy Kreuzberg! It is worth showing up here on Thursday evening when many local street fooders and restauranteurs display their stands. Street Food Thursday is a really great non-commercial event and a chance to try food from the farthest corners of the world for little money. We were tempted by a stand with cuisine from Israel and Senegal. In a hurry, we finished our bottle of wine and, a little sad, we made our way to the train station to catch a train to Wrocław.

8. 18:40 Berlin Ostbahnhof

 

 

If we had left 3 minutes later we would have been late for the train and we would have had a chance to enjoy Berlin overnight! Unfortunately; goodbye Lenin Berlin!

Video

watch our video from berlin

It was great! On the occasion of our next visit tp Berlin we will definitely go to Prenzlauer Berg, we will wander the Mitte district longer, visit museums and stay in Berlin for the night. This city tempts and attracts not only with its history but also with its vanity!

 

Finally, my promised reflection on these types of trips – they are super cool! 🙂

 

Personally, I am a fan as a I enjoy every moment feeling the pressure of the limited time. Furthermore, if you have the blood of a traveler imagine how many wonderful places you have missed in the last year if you have only spent your holidays exploring the far and away! By organizing such excursions on one Saturday each month, you gain 12 unique days and 12 unique adventures! All this at a low cost!

our top 3 favourite places
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52.30°N 13.23°e

Gendarmenmarkt

The most beautiful square in Berlin. 

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52.48°N 13.43°e

Klunkerkranich

Amazing club and café with the view of whole of Berlin.

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52.30°N 13.23°E

checkpoint charlie

A place where XX century history can be felt.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Brandenburg Gate

Gendarmenmarkt

And you can add description too.

Museum island

Description for your location.

Alexanderplatz

Hackesche Höfe

Zoo Bahnhof

Potsdamer Platz

Checkpoint Charlie

Schlesisches tor

East side Gallery

Boxhagener Platz

Neukolln

Klunkerkranich

Oranienstraße

Markthalle Neun

Berlin Ostbahnhof

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[…] blog/berlin […]

Mary
Mary
3 months ago

Cool! Usefull tips! However I’m planning to stay there for at least one night :p

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