Berlin - 2008

Charlotte - Berlin, Germany

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First Stage: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6

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Day 1 - March 31: Charlotte - Berlin, Germany

Hotel: No Hotel - on planes all day

Via: CO 2202: 10:45 am - 12:23 pm to Newark (EWR); ERJ-145
  CO 96:     5:50 pm - 8:05 am (4/1) to Berlin (TXL); 757-200
Breakfast: At Home Lunch: In the Airport Dinner: On the Flight

Comments: We arrived at Newark about 30 min. late, but of course we had lots of time. There was bad weather in the NY/NJ region and the pilot thought we might have to stop in Allentown to get some gas if there had been any more delays. Fortunately we didn't have to do that.

The original flight Continental had given us would have only allowed 2 hours for the connection at Newark. I changed to an earlier flight since we have had bad weather in earlier travels and ended up missing connections on overseas flights. Guess what - we would have missed our flight if we had stayed on the original itinerary. The flight left Charlotte about 3 hours late.

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Day 2 - April 1: Berlin

Weather: Nice day, lots of sun, about 60F in the afternoon

Hotel: Hilton Berlin

Breakfast: On the Plane Lunch: In Lego World Dinner: In a Cafe near the Hilton

Comments: We got to Berlin about 30 min. early. This is a neat airport. Once we got out into the terminal from the jetway the passport control was right there, and next to that was the baggage carousel. Our bags were he first ones off, and we were out of there in no time. Taxis were another 50 feet and before 8:30 am we were at the hotel.

Check-in is at 3 pm, always a problem if you get to Europe in the morning. However, the room was ready for us and they even upgraded us to a Jr. Suite and breakfast is free every day. It does pay to be in the Hilton Honors Program. We are staying five nights, the last two are part of the cruise. We can stay in this room all 5 nights.

The Hilton is in what used to be East Berlin, now the in-part of Berlin from what we understand.

After a short nap (we didn't sleep at all on the plane), we took a walk to the Potsdammer Platz, which is a couple of miles from the hotel. This is a very historic square, and now it is also famous for the Sony Center. Mostly restaurants, movies, shopping and the Lego Discover Center. This is a hands on experience, but they also have a ride, a movie, Berlin made of Lego and a store.

When we got back we took another, longer nap. Then it was time to get something to eat at night. We walked around for a while - lots of shopping near the hotel.

Click to see a larger Picture

Berlin Breakfast on
the Flight
Berlin Airport
Tegel (TXL)
- - - Our Room at the Hilton Berlin - - -
 - - - - - - - At Potsdammer Platz Sony Center - - - - - - -    
- - - - - - - - - - - - All made out of Lego - - - - - - - - - -    
- - - - - - - - - - - - Berlin out of Lego - - - - - - - - - -    

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Day 3 - April 2: Berlin

Weather: Low 40's, rained on and off during the day, but didn't bother us too much.

Hotel: Hilton Berlin

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Museum Restaurant Dinner: Q205 Food Court

Comments: Started the day with the buffet breakfast at the hotel. It's excellent, but I wouldn't pay E23 ($40) each for it. Can you imagine paying $80 just for breakfast? I can't!

Then went to a supermarket near the hotel to replace the pre-shave that the security people in the Charlotte airport confiscated because the container was too large (7.5 oz) to take on the plane! And it was only half full.

Yesterday we wanted to buy a Berlin Welcome Card but nobody had it. Today we found out that you can buy them in any subway station. There is one right outside the hotel. With the card you get 72 hours of transportation on the subways, buses, trams, some other trains in the city, and you get discounts to most museums, etc. In other words - it's a good deal.

The subways etc. have no barriers, but you better have a ticket - they do spot checks and a guy sitting next to us had no ticket, they took him off the train and fined him. So don't do that!

It was still early so we decided to check out the new main train station (Hauptbahnhof). It's only about a year old - nice job. I didn't see too many trains, though.

Then we were off to the Technical Museum - trains, ships, planes, etc. Part of it was an old train station and most of trains were in an old roundhouse. We didn't see everything, but what we saw was well done.

They have a nice restaurant, so we had lunch there. We are still out of synch due to the time change, so we weren't all that hungry. Plus we had a big breakfast because I was really hungry this morning.

It was time for a nap, so back to the hotel. About 4 we went shopping, via subway. There are a lot of stores right in the area of the hotel, but we wanted to try some other stores. Had dinner at a food court near the hotel and then we were done!

Click to see a larger Picture

- - - On the Subway - - - - - - - - - - - - At the Technical Museum - - - - - - - - -
in the Rain
Dinner Hilton Location of our Room

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Day 4 - April 3: Berlin

Weather: About 50 during the day; mostly cloudy, some sun in the afternoon

Hotel: Hilton Berlin

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Dinner: At Hotel

Comments: Started the day with another excellent breakfast. I found Quark today. Don't know what it is in English - something like yogurt and sour cream. Never heard of it in the US. They also have Rollmops, herring rolled up with a pickle - very good, even for breakfast :-).

There's a lot of construction going on in the city, and even outside the hotel. Our room faces an inside court yard so it doesn't interfere with our naps!

Our morning target was "Schloss Charlottenburg" (Charlottenburg Palace). This is Berlin's largest surviving royal palace of the Hohenzollern era. Begun in 1695. It was heavily damaged during WWII, so a lot of it is reconstructed and much of the furniture was lost. No pictures were allowed inside, the ones I have are from a book we bought.

Today we took the subway most of the way, and then transferred to a bus. We had lunch in a restaurant near the palace and then took a bus to the zoo.

Weather was nice in the zoo, which is done very well. However, it's most famous resident, Knut the young polar bear, was not to be seen.

Back at 3:30 to the hotel - time for a nap.

We wanted to eat light tonight and found a supermarket near the hotel where we bought salads, strawberries, etc.

Tomorrow most of the other people who will be on the cruise with us will be arriving, however we don't have any activities planned until Saturday - so we have another day to do things on our own.

TV is useless (mostly). We get CNN International, MSNBC, BBC - nothing really interesting. We were hoping for SNY so we could see the Mets, but no such luck :-).

Click to see a larger Picture

Breakfast Buffet   Construction outside the Hotel    
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Schloss Charlottenburg - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bus Stop Lunch - - - - - -  At the Zoo  - - - - - - -    
- - - - - - - -    At the Zoo    - - - - - - - - - -      

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Day 5 - April 4: Berlin

Weather: High 40's, cloudy day, but no rain. The lack of sunshine can be seen in the pictures.

Hotel: Hilton Berlin

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: At the Rathaus (City Hall) Dinner: At Hotel

Comments: Had to start the day with the Buffet Breakfast. The first time we went at 6:30 when they open. Yesterday it was 7:30 and today it was 8:30. What a difference - the place was full. Must have been rush hour for the business people.

Today most people with us on the cruise will be here. Viking River Cruises had a desk in the lobby and they gave us all the information we need. Tomorrow morning well take a city tour, the afternoon is free. We knew this, of course, and have tried to stay away from what we'll see tomorrow.

Took the subway to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church (1895) was heavily damaged in 1943 and ruins of the tower were left standing as a memorial.  Next to it a new church was built in 1963.

Next was the Alexanderplatz with it's TV Tower. It was built in 1969 by the East German Government. In the shadow the tower is the Berlin Rathaus (city hall). A guide book suggested a restaurant in the basement of the Rathaus and we decided to have lunch there. What they didn't say that it was a cafeteria - not that it mattered, the food was good and very reasonably priced.

Then we went for a train ride. There is a line which runs around the city and it was a good way to see a lot in a short time. It took an hour to make the trip, which was included in our welcome card. On the way back two people were fined for not having tickets on the subway. They seem to check quite often.

A word about German drivers. You can count on them to stop when you are crossing the street and the light for you is green,  but if you are ever caught on the street when you shouldn't be there, they will show no mercy. In other words, don't expect them to slow down. So you have to be very careful.

This is the last day we can use the welcome card. We only have tomorrow afternoon to do something and we have saved stuff near the hotel - so it worked out well.

Click to see a larger Picture

  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church  - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 - - -   Alexanderplatz  - - -  - - Lunch at the Rathaus - -    
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - TV Tower  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  

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Day 6 - April 5: Berlin

Weather: Another cloudy day, low 50's. Some light rain in the morning.

Hotel: Hilton Berlin

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Crepes at the Food Court Dinner: At Hotel

Comments: Had our usual breakfast. Saw some who are on the cruise with us - they wore their name tags.

Afterwards we all met in the lobby for our tour of Berlin, on two buses. Looks like we'll have a lively bunch. I'm sure most will be from the US, but we met some folks from the United Kingdom, also.

It's was 4 hour tour, we made three stops. The first one was at one of the remains of the wall. All that's left is a small section, but you really can't get a feel for it since the original wall was a complicated structure with two walls, a dead zone between them, guard towers, etc.

Then we stopped at Templehof Airport. This was the airport where the flights during the Berlin Airlift landed. It's not used by many airlines today and will probably shut down later this year. For us it was mainly a pit stop. The final stop was at the Brandenburg Gate.

After the tour we had lunch at the food court nearby. I had seen that they had crepes there and I really needed one. Then it was time for a nap - all that touring sure makes one tired. I am proud that we never ate at McDonald's or one of the other fast food places! Didn't even go to Starbucks and there's plenty around.

Our final destination was the boulevard "Unter den Linden". We saved it for last because it's just a few blocks from the hotel and our Welcome Berlin card expired last night, so it had be something close to the hotel.

The Bear is the symbol of Berlin, after all it's on the flag. We saw many bears in front of stores and also in the stores (for sale). You can see the ones I found on a separate page.

Tomorrow we are doing some sightseeing on the way to the ship, which is about 70 miles from here in Magdeburg on the Elbe. We should be there around 5 pm.

I'm going to keep this going if I can, depends on how good the internet connection is on the ship. In the hotel it was great. Not cheap, but good :-).

Speaking of the hotel, we really liked it. All the staff is very nice and it is an excellent locations. Depending on how much you want to walk, quite a few of the sights you might want to see are within walking distance. There are two subway lines in front of the hotel. The subways are clean and run frequently. We rarely had to wait for than a couple of minutes. We also found a couple of supermarkets close by.

Elbe River, here we come!

Click to see a larger Picture

    - - - - - - - - - - At the Wall  - - - - - - - - - CY-46 & Templehof  
Hauptbanhof - - - - - - -  River Spree  - - - - - - - -    
Reichstag - - - - At the Brandenburg Gate - - - - Unter den Linden  
- - - - - -  Berlin in Chocolate  - - - - - -      
- - Courtyard from our Room - - - - The German Dome - -    

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