If you were less than convinced by my earlier post re Bavaria and Munich, think about Berlin as an alternative. It could not be more different in many respect; it is decidedly edgy, very contemporary in terms of art, music, design, fashion ; very secular, heterogeneous, German and European at the same time; and lastly it is immediate.
Walk from Potsdamer Platz (the site of both the R-C and the Marriott) for 10 mins and you pass remnants of the Wall (see below), the Jewish and Gay Monuments, the Brandenburg Gate and the new Reichstag. Then turn up Unter den Linden, following the path ridden by Emperors on their way to hunt in the nearby Tiergarten, and you go past The Adlon (once graced, I think, by Greta Garbo) the Berliner Dom, various excellent museums and the Humbolt University. Provided your legs are still willing (Berlin is delightfully flat), continue walking (you are now in the old "East" Berlin) to Alexander Platz and then on to PrenzlauerBurg. If a little tired, then just take a U2 up to EbertsWaldStrasse - another fascinating enclave
The Berlin Marriott is one of the best Marriott I know. a new building, meticulously organised and managed, always seeking to up-date itself and having an excellent Executive Lounge.
And, lastly, why is it appropriate to write about Berlin today?
Well, as I discovered only yesterday to my shame, it is the 50th anniversary of the building of the Wall - and if you walk about 50 metres from the Hotel, you almost bump into fragments of it.
This is so well done!
I too have been lucky enough to enjoy the uniqueness of Berlin. "Checkpoint Charley", the great transportation system, and reasonable prices. Berlin is a "Hidden Gem" for many who can't comprehend the dynamics of this great city.
Arkwright, Tegel Airport, while not the fanciest, is the most effecient airport I have ever experienced. The ease at getting from there to wherever, by light rail should be a model for many other cities.
Lastly, my trip, via train, (Thru Hamburg), from the Berlin Marriott, to Copenhagen Marriott, for a "Super Bowl" party will always be one of my favorite trips.
Please keep the travel stories coming!
I was an exchange student in South America when the wall went up, and I recall that we few US types wondered what this would mean for us (especially those of us nearing draft age). Like communism the wall was a symbol of desperation and decay. My friends stationed in Berlin saw it daily, some worked to breach it.
I was very proud of those Berliners who straddled, the tore it down two decades ago.
Could not agree more about Berlin and the Marriott there. Great city, amazing property and the staff is top notch. Cant say much about the thai place at the corner across from the hotel though. The two ladies at the concierge lounge were always amazing and food was great :)
As a Berliner, I am happy to hear the positive comments on "my" city and it's interesting to hear that the Marriott is good (Berlin is usually not known for its friendliness or top service...). Yet one comment confuses me: Tegel Airport does not have direct acces to Light Rail! You either have to take the car, bus, or taxi. Are you confusing Tegel with Schönefeld? I agree with you that Tegel is a small yet efficient airport, but access to it could be way better, although it is located within the city limits and thus close to all attractions. In any case, it will be closed soon when the new BBI Airport opens.
I should have said, you need to catch a shuttle bus from the airport to the light rail system. It was a very short and really worthwhile trip for me to take the light rail to the Convention at The Estrella. With the Berlin bus system, I could easily take the bus to the convention.
Note picture at Checkpoint Charlie. I enjoyed a meal at the nearby Adler, and the Spy Museum.
it is always interesting to hear what non-residents say about your city, and I think you have done it justice! I believe you are right it is certainly the most entertaining spot to be at in Germany right now,, it is not as crowded as other places and you can still have a beer for under 2 Euros. It is interesting to hear that people from outside praise our public transportation system, something Berliners are far more critical of. Deutsche Bahn has cut funds for repairing the S-Bahn (Light Rail) which caused closures of lines and trains running late for 1 1/2 years, and the system is not as reliable as it used to be. But I guess residents are always more critical of their own public transportation system. I have recently stayed in Washington DC for a few months and I was very pleased with the metro system, yet Washingtonians always seemed to complain.
It is true it's just a short bus ride to the light rail from Tegel, but it is really annoying if you are traveling with two large suitcases! I always take a cab or have someone drop me/pick me up by car if I fly through Tegel. It will be better with BBI which will have direct light rail access, but the flip side is that it is much further outside of the city. (I think it is scheduled to open in 2012). Tegel will then close for good, the last West-Berlin transportation landmarks still in operation, after Tempelhof Airport and Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten had been shut down. (kind of sad....)
You are right about "Bargains", in Berlin!
I have had plenty of nice dinners at Karstadt's Department Store, expecially the one next to the Lundwig Von Beethoven Hotel, ( Do not remember the street, but this is another nice location for low budget travel).
I really thought KeDiWe Dept. store was as impressive as London's Harrods, their food halls were fantastic. Likewise, the Lecker Bissen Rest. was just as great as the one in Munich,(Pictured) and that is saying a lot! That "Cold War", bombshelter, just down the street was something I will never forget!
Thanks for all, for reminding me just how special Berlin really is!
I am another one that was very pleasantly surprised with Berlin. It shouldn't be considered an alternate but rather a primary destination.
As an American Jew I wasn't sure exactly what to expect and was told by my parents growing up to stay away from Germany. As an adult I decided that the war was finally over and that the present population can't be held responsible for their grandparents atrocities.
That said, my wife and I embarked on a four day trip to Berlin which turned out to be the highlight of our trip, which also included Paris, Vienna and Prague.
Berlin is as hip as it gets and there is no shortage of great restaurants, including the one in the Marriott at Pottsdamer Platz.
While the city has a great transportation system, it's also a great walking town and visually appealing.
My only disappointment, oddly enough, was the Jewish museum. Other cities have done a better job, especially Paris.
Berlin sure has come a long way. We were there during Gay Pride Day Parade (right in front of the hotel) and the participants were able to freely express themselves without any interaction with police, who were actually amused by it.
I highly recommend the Berlin Marriott. It is centrally located and has one of the finest lounges I've ever been to.