Europe Travel

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Travel to Berlin: Top 10 Picks

Twenty years after its post-Wall rebirth, Berlin is a scene-stealing combo of glamour and grit, teeming with top museums and galleries, grand opera and guerrilla clubs, gourmet temples and ethnic snack shacks. Whether your tastes run to posh or punk, you can sate them in Berlin.

When it comes to fashion, art, design and music, the German capital is the city to watch. A global influx of creatives has turned it into a cauldron of cultural cool reminiscent of New York in the ’80s. What draws them is Berlin’s legendary climate of tolerance, openness and experimentation infused with an edgy undercurrent that gives this ‘eternally unfinished’ city its street cred. Cheap rents don’t hurt either.

All this trendiness is a triumph for a town that’s long been in the cross-hairs of history: Berlin staged a revolution, was headquartered by fascists, bombed to bits, ripped in half and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Famous landmarks such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and what’s left of the Berlin Wall are like a virtual 3-D textbook in a city where you’ll find history staring you in the face every time you turn a corner.
Perhaps it’s because of its heavy historical burden that Berlin is throwing itself into tomorrow with such contagious energy. At times the entire city seems to be bubbling over into one huge party. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs host their scenes of frenzy and hedonism until the wee hours. Sleep? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Yet despite its often hectic pace, Berlin functions on an exquisitely human scale. Traffic flows freely, public transportation is brilliant, you can walk without fear at night, clubs have no velvet ropes and your restaurant bill would only buy you a starter back home. Come and join the party and be swept away by the riches, quirks and vibrancy of this fascinating city.

Top 10 Picks For Berlin
1.Get high at the TV Tower
Take in unbeatable 360-degree views of Berlin from the Fernsehturm, Germany's tallest structure.
The TV Tower is the tallest structure in Germany, soaring 368m above Berlin since 1969. Come early to beat the queue for the lift ride to the panorama level at 203m, where views are unbeatable on clear days. From here and the upstairs café, which makes one revolution in 30 minutes, you can easily pinpoint landmarks and study the city layout
Address: Panoramastrasse 1a, Alexanderplatz Area
Tickets: Full €8, child €4

2.Revere the Reichstag
Stand in awe of history at Germany’s political power nexus.
Just north of the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag has been the seat of the Bundestag (German parliament), since 1999 following a complete renovation by Lord Norman Foster. The British architect turned the 1894 building by Paul Wallot into a state-of-the-art parliamentary facility, preserving only the historical shell and adding the glistening glass dome.
The view from the top is one of the highlights of visit to Berlin, as much for the 360-degree panorama of the city as for the close-ups of the dome. From the outdoor viewing platform you can climb the spiralling ramp inside the dome itself. At the top, displays document the building's history.
The Reichstag has been the setting of numerous milestones in German history: the proclamation of the German republic, the Reichstag fire in 1933 allowing Hitler to blame the communists and seize power, the Soviet attack a dozen years later which destroyed the building, and the enactment of the reunification of Germany on 2 October 1990.
Address: Platz der Republik 1, Tiergarten, 10557
Transport: train Hauptbahnhof, bus 100

3.Visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum 
Stand in a hot spot of the Cold War, location of the famed tower that symbolised East-West tension.
The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is all that remains of the famed tower that symbolised East-West tension during the Cold War. The tower itself was unceremoniously craned away a few months after the border reopened. In 2001, a replica guardhouse was returned to the site (the original is in the Allierten Museum in Zehlendorf).
The museum is interesting (if overpriced), with its display of ingenious devices employed in escape attempts from the former East Germany. It doesn't make it any easier to comprehend that this nondescript urban landscape was one of the critical pressure points in the global stand-off between East and West, and the scene of 80 deaths.
To the west of the museum is the East Side Gallery, a surviving chunk of the real Wall, preserved by the city authorities and decorated by local artists.

Address: Friedrichstrasse 43-45, Kreuzberg
Transport: train: Stadtmitte, train: Kochstrasse

4.Catch the art express at the Hamburger Banhhof

Admire the star-studded collection of contemporary art at this converted 19th-century train station. Berlin's premier contemporary art museum has a star-studded collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Anselm Kiefer as well as an entire wing of Joseph Beuys. Occupying a cleverly converted 19th-century railway station and adjacent 300m-long warehouse, it also has great temporary exhibits, a well-stocked art bookshop and a popular café called Sarah Wiener im Hamburger Bahnhof.
Address: Invalidenstrasse 50-51, Government Quarter
Transport: train: Hauptbahnhof
Tickets: adult/under 16/concession €8/free/4, Thu last 4hr free

5.Catch a cabaret show at Bar jeder Vernunft
Flash back to Roaring Twenties glamour at this dazzling art nouveau-style tent hosting cult cabaret shows. Entertainers at this wonderful venue have a veritable cult following and shows - many with a camp or bizarre bent - are often sold out. Part of the draw is the exquisite setting: a historic Art Nouveau-style tent decked out with dazzling mirrors and booths bathed in red-velvet and candlelight. After the show, the place turns into a relaxed piano bar.
Address: Schaperstr 24, Wilmersdorf, 10719
Transport: underground rail: Spichernstr, Uhlandstr
Tickets: €14.00-€30.00

6. Spot celebrities at Cookies
Sip signature Watermelon Man cocktails and scan the crowd for celebs at this legendary midweek party palace. The seventh incarnation of this legendary midweek party palace has been cooking since January 2007, this time in a former East Berlin cinema behind the Westin Hotel. Once past the picky bouncers, it's all about dancing with friendly folk, sipping the signature Watermelon Man cocktail and scanning the crowd for celeb sightings.
Address: Friedrichstrasse 158-164, Unter Den Linden
Transport: underground rail: Französische Strasse
Tickets: full €10

7. Go tobogganing at Potsdamer Platz
Go for the ride of your life on the mobile toboggan run, or get your skates on and hit the ice rink.

8.See the awe of the Tor
Take in the famous Brandenburg Gate (Tor), a backdrop for presidential speeches, Pink Floyd concerts and World Cup soccer matches.

9.Eyeball the Wall at the East Side Gallery
Check out the longest Berlin Wall remnant, also the world's biggest outdoor canvas.

10. Queue for currywurst at Curry 36
Join legions of locals at this legendary imbiss (snackbar) for sausage with spice.

                                                                           Source: lonelyplanet


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