Famous Sansibar Restaurant on the German island of Sylt is one of the best adresses for good food combined with a stunning view of the sunset on the beach.
Which one is your favourite panoramic restaurant?
The first thing that comes into my mind when I think of the trip to Berlin is: avoid visiting Berlin in the winter!! It is freezing and windy. Not the right weather conditions for a city trip.
I was there in the end of November with some friends.
I have never been in Berlin before and I knew that 3 days would just last for a few of the things that I wanted to see, so I expected long walks and a tight schedule. Well, I noticed quite soon that it was too cold to walk around for more than 15 minutes and actually it was already dark at around 4 pm, which is really too early if you do not want to wake up too early in the morning during your vacation.
So here we were, a couple of weeks after the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 2014.
We needed a plan B. And plan B was soon found: Sightseeing tours in double-decker buses!
I know – I know, this is not really what is called an adventure city trip, and I am not a fan of these busses neither, but believe me: windy -9° C is definitely too cold to walk around!
We soon found out that there are four tours offered by Berlin City Tour:
– the Classic Tour which includes all the major attractions of Berlin, such as Brandenburg Gate, KaDeWe, Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdamer Platz and TV Tower.
– the Wall and Lifestyle Tour, which takes you to the Berlin Wall Memorial, to an original WWII bunker, to Prenzlauer Berg with its countless restaurants, cafes and galleries, to the East Side Gallery, which is the longest preserved part of the Berlin Wall, and much more…
– the Westend Tour with a view of the exclusive residential areas and the famous Ku’damm, the Charlottenburg Palace, the ICC and Radio Tower and the Olympic Stadium.
– the Boat Tour, which is of course a boat cruise on the River Spree to see the most famous sights of Berlin.
Click here for the rates (there is a small discount if you book online).
We booked the Tours 1 and 2 and it was the best choice: a good way to see the city despite of the freezing cold. Of course you have the possibility to go out of the bus at any point and explore the areas you are interested in on your own, and then proceed with the tour whenever you want. This means that you can also just use it as an easy alternative to public transport to get from A to B.
Tour 2 was interesting as we saw parts of ex-Eastern Berlin which kept the flair of 25 years ago, where one can imagine how life was before the fall of the wall.
On this Tour you do not have a recorded voice explaining what you see, but a real guide, which is of course nicer. The guide only speaks German and English, but the real problem was that our guide explained everything very much in detail in German and just spent few words in English, so that the explanation was nearly useless in English.
We went off the bus to explore the parts of the city that we absolutely wanted to see more in detail and got a good overall idea of the city. The Tours stop at around 4 pm, which means that you have the possibility to live the evening on your own.
Now I have the impression that I need to go back to Berlin to “live” the city when it’s warmer, but I was positively surprised about how the City Tours Busses saved my trip to Berlin and how I now know what I would love to explore a bit better next time. I am definitely looking forward to my next trip to this unique city!
We slept at the Marriott at Potsdamer Platz, which I found out to be my favorite area of Berlin.
Potsdamer Platz is a great mixture between high modern buildings and the historical charm of Berlin. The square was divided by the wall, and after the fall quickly became one of the most exciting “in” places of Berlin.
The square was developed by Daimler and opened on 2 October 1998, with a spectacular architectural diversity and a huge cultural offer due to the Berlinale, the Expressionale, three theatres, a casino, two nightclubs, two health centers, a shopping mall and around 30 restaurants, bars and cafés in addition to offices and apartments.
Marriott Potsdamer Platz:
The Marriott Potsdamer Platz is located inside the Beisheim Center building, which has been inaugurated in 2004. Apart of the Marriott Hotel, it includes The Ritz Carlton, several offices and some apartments which were the first in Germany profiting of the “Five Star Plus Hotelservice”, which means that the inhabitants can use the services and the infrastructure of the Ritz Carlton to live in luxury.
The style of the Marriott is modern and elegant, with a spacious hotel lobby, a very inviting Hotel Bar and restaurant. The room we got was big and bright due to the floor-to-ceiling windows, with a very modern and functional bathroom and a huge fluffy bed.
The Wellness Area includes a beautiful pool and a small sauna. The Fitness room is well equipped.
Staff is very friendly and helpful. It is easy to feel comfortable at Marriott Potsdamer Platz!
Unfortunately I have to mention also two negative points: internet access was not included, which I think is not up-to-date anymore, and we did not manage to heat the room as much we wanted, which was a pity as it was so cold outside and we would have loved some degrees more inside the room.
For Sunday-Brunch lovers:
If you are a Sunday-Brunch lover you have to try out the Sunday-Brunch at the Marriott! It is one of the best I have ever seen! There is a huge buffet with everything a buncher’s heart can desire, delicious fresh pastries and juices, fruits and sausages… and in the middle of it there is an open space kitchen with cooks for the eggs and pancakes.
As we arrived on Saturday afternoon, we did not know about the Sunday Brunch and went to the restaurant the next morning thinking that a normal breakfast awaited us. It was a great surprise and we enjoyed it so much… until we found out the price: 35 € per person!
So, an expensive joy – but I think it is worth it if you appreciate these kind of brunches.
Where to go for a Drink:
A great “in” place to see is the Monkey Bar on the tenth floor of the trendy 25h Hotel. It is a Rooftop-Bar with a spectacular panoramic view over the city and on the monkeys of the Berlin Zoo. It is decorated in a mixture of industrial and jungle style and a new “hotspot” in Berlin. You can sit on the big stairs behind the bar to enjoy the best view and in summer on the terrace. The jungle-style cocktails are said to be good, I just had a tea to warm myself up.
Before my trip I wondered how much the city is still influenced by its division and its history. It soon occurred to me that 25 years is not a long time and the wound are still very fresh. The signs of this city’s history can be seen and felt everywhere and are impressive and very touching.
East Side Gallery: a segment of the Berlin Wall has been turned into the longest open air gallery in the world.
People are visiting the Satzvey Castle (Burg Satzvey) from all around Europe for its renowned medieval events.
At the medieval market you can find everything a medieval heart desires, while musicians, jugglers and storytellers entertain the visitors.
Proud knights on their war horses carry you back to the time of courtly love and romance.
The highlight of my visit was a great stunt-show: „Schurke oder nicht Schurke, das ist hier die Frage“ („Rogue or not rogue, this is the question“). It was a very ironic story which played with the audience’s imagination of good and evil, hero and villain and all our clichés.
Actually, at first sight it was the usual story of a Princess kidnapped by a villain. The difference here was that she enjoyed “finally” not being treated as a Princess and was flattered the presence of the rude villain. She was fed-up by the usual boring Knights (that not always are as good as they seem).
At the beginning of the show the audience booed every time the villain Xylon appeared and – after being a bit confused about the feelings of the princess – ended up booing every time the good Knight appeared.
The good and the evil fought during an impressive Knights Jousting Tournament for the hand of the Princess.
My first conclusion: Not every Princess wants to be saved by a Knight.
My second conclusion: Don’t let your clichées and the outside world tell you what is good and what is evil.
I’m not really into musicals. I didn’t even know that Starlight Express is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I went to see it driven by the enthusiasm of the people around me, without reading anything about it before and with the curiosity and intention of just seeing “what that’s all about”.
The only thing I knew was that the actors perform wearing roller skates.
The first surprise was the “Starlighthalle”, a specially build venue in Bochum, Germany. The entrance looks like the waiting hall of an old train station and the theatre has large tracks on three levels, with the audience sitting in between the tracks. The first category seats are even rotating, in order to be able to follow everything that is happening around.
The musical opened with the voice of a kid (that you never see), who plays with his toy trains.
As the skating performance started I directly got completely involved in the combination of music, fantasy characters, colorful laser shows and… speed. The skaters were so fast that I nearly got scared about the track directly behind my head. But then, as the musical went on and the speed increased, they started raising a barrier between the lane and the audience every time a fast race took place. It is all about these toy railway trains, racing against each other.
This theatre was incredible! Everything moved and changed from one moment to the other: the tracks, the height, the lights, the scenery… and I completely understand now why they designed an extra Starlight Hall for that. It would be impossible to go on a tour.
I have to admit that I would have preferred replacing one or two of the slower songs with some more races and speed-adrenaline, but I think that’s not a common thought.
– The slogan of the show is “Das rasanteste Musical im Universum!” (“The fastest musical in the universe!”).
– It is the most popular musical show in Germany
– It has been seen by more than 15 million people in around 10’100 performances
– The Starlighthalle in Bochum has been built in less than 1 year and made it into the Guinnes Book of Records for that
– The staff counts 651 actors from 34 nations
– 11’140 dresses and 823 wigs have been worn
– The figure Greaseball already skated about 20’250 km, which is ½ circumference of the earth
Images: Magic Picture – http://www.dj-magic-lightsound.de/mk-magic-picture.htm
Today is Ascension Day, a bank holiday in many parts of the world. Father’s Day in Germany. Happy Day to all the dads out there!
I have lived in Germany before, but never heard about this old custom of the Rhineland region: Maibaum stellen (erect May trees).
I found out the night before 1st May, when I saw groups of young men having fun in big cars, organized with loud music, some drinks and … trees on top of the cars!
Soon someone explained: boys decorate birch trees with colorful ribbons and often a heart with the name of the girl, and place them in front of the house of a girl who they would like to date/marry.
No matter how difficult that is, they carry the trees to the strangest places and they even climb on balconies with the help of their friends. Ideally, the girl does not find out who her cavalier was. She only finds out after one month, when the tree will be taken away by the same men.
You may imagine just few trees here and there. No. The trees are everywhere! These trees decorate the cities during the entire month of May, which gives them such a wonderful romantic touch…