Monday, 8 October 2012

Berlin: history, bears and fountains

Berlin really is a great place to go and see, perhaps not the most well-known of tourist destinations, but one of the best city-breaks I've been on (and been back to, it was that good!), and with cheap airlines offering fares cheaper than local buses, definitely worth a long weekend.For one stay, we were trying to do Berlin on a very low budget, and stayed in a tiny hostel, a bit out of the way but very well connected to the centre on the U-Bahn. We'd been slightly apprehensive about what it would be like considering how much we'd paid, but we were shown into a room with a chandelier, high ceiling with gilded details and our own balcony by a very helpful receptionist. Even on a tight budget, this kind of holiday is definitely achievable if you're prepared to do your homework beforehand and we had a lovely, stress free break in one of the most interesting cities in Europe. Museums do deals for students, and most have free days (Thursdays). The Pergamon, on Museuminsel, is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. And not just for museum-buffs, even kids and grumpy pre-teens were loving this one, I even spotted some putting away their nintendos when they saw the giant Ishtar Gate, bright blue and covered in lions and flowers and a million feet high. The Museum of Islamic Art in the same building is absolutely stunning. If this is the only museum you manage to get to, you'll still fly home feeling smugly well-cultured. Also, a trick learned from many city breaks is that museums are well heated in winter and usually have air conditioning in summer (at least the large, well funded ones do) so they make a great place to warm up or cool down.

We were in Berlin in the height of summer and the tourist season,
 so this little corner of tranquillity tucked behind a shopping centre,
 complete with fountains and sculptures was a gorgeous surprise.

These bears are to be found scattered all over Berlin, the city's mascot
 as well as the perfect excuse for a sight-seeing treasure hunt, 
maybe a great way to get kids excited about trekking around the city

The Reichstag is not something you can really miss on a trip to Berlin, 
although I'd advise going there first thing to try and avoid the 
worst of the queues, which can be ankle-achingly long at times

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