Germany: Berlin: Classic & Cool
An early center of the Enlightenment and, later, of a dark 20th century history, Berlin has evolved into a leading hub of art and pop culture.
Upon your arrival this morning, a representative from your hotel will meet you and transfer you into the city. After arriving at the hotel, enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet of seasonal foods, including local fruits, homemade breads and jams, organic yogurt, and free-range meats and eggs.
After breakfast and some relaxation time, head out to explore Mitte, Berlin’s most central borough. Mitte comprises the historical core of the city, and is located in what was for decades known as East Berlin. Walk along Unter den Linden, the city’s primary boulevard, passing the seat of the German parliament at the Reichstag, and heading towards Brandenburg Gate. Originally built in 1791, Brandenburg Gate is the only surviving city gate, and it has come to symbolize the reunification of the city after decades of East-West division.
Break for lunch at at one of our favorite restaurants.
Before returning to the hotel, stop at Bebelplatz, a public square next to the State Opera building off of Unter den Linden, and the site of the Nazi burning of almost 20,000 books in 1933. Towards the center of the square is a simple memorial, where the students of Humboldt University hold a book sale every year.
Our dinner suggestion for tonight is at a favorite restaurant among locals that specializes in hearty dishes from the Swiss-German-French border.
After breakfast this morning, your guide will meet you at the hotel before heading out to Berlin’s Kreuzberg District, the once-gritty Bohemian heart of the city. Taking you from the stylish streets of Kreuzberg to the riverside of the Spree, your day includes an introduction to traditional art and graffiti, and to people, trends, and shops that comprise a cross-section of Berlin’s tastemakers.
Begin in edgy Kottbusser Tor, a cultural melting pot. Wander through the winding lanes, taking in the artistic subculture, Turkish markets, small food shops, and boutiques – everything that makes this “Little Istanbul” of Berlin so unique.
Berlin is the graffiti mecca of the urban world. The diverse and relaxed population here knows how to express its thoughts, hopes, and political opinions through the medium of street art – everything from stickers and graffiti to huge wall paintings and sculptures, or installations made from what some might consider trash. Since the reunification of the city, street art has spread rapidly, now occupying a number of eerie post-communist locations and ramshackle buildings
Soak up Berlin’s living culture – trends, history, and the unique mainstream as well as the subcultures influencing the city today. As your morning draws to a close, your guide will suggest a great café or pub where you can take in a bit more of the local atmosphere and stay for lunch on your own.
After lunch, spend the remainder of the afternoon at you leisure. If the weather permits, we suggest you embark on a one-hour boat tour along the banks of the Spree, taking in river-front views of the city’s center, beginning at a point close to Berlin’s massive 19th-century cathedral.
If you wish, return to Kreuzberg this evening for dinner in a cool café which features a 1950’s interior and a very local crowd, or at a delicious Turkish restaurant which serves authentic Turkish cuisine.
With its rich and fascinating history, Berlin has quite a few sites that are not to be missed. After breakfast this morning, you will be met and taken on a tour that combines the city’s main attractions with the more edgy highlights behind the scenes. Along your route are hidden oases, historic sites, hip neighborhoods, and odd works of architecture. The in-depth discussion of your tour will focus on the Old versus the New Berlin, but your guide will also reveal stories about Berlin’s vibrant nightlife, trends, scandals, and subcultures which influence the city.
Among the sites you’ll see today is the famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War: Checkpoint Charlie remains a symbol of the Cold War and the division of Berlin. Following the emigration of almost three-and-a-half million East Germans to West Germany, the Soviets prompted the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, further dividing both the city and the country. You’ll visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which was originally constructed to document the border security system. It now houses photos, documents, and video footage of escape attempts during the Cold War.
Across the river Spree is Berlin’s East Side Gallery, one of the last remaining fragments of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, the remainder of the wall became an international memorial for freedom, featuring the artwork of over 100 artists from around the world, and while the east side of the wall is covered in paintings that document change and hopes for a better future, the west side remains in its original state—bold, gray, and chilling.
End the tour with a short walk in the traditionally Jewish neighborhood, where you’ll find picturesque courtyards, art galleries, and shops. Your morning ends with a visit to a ball room from the roaring 20’s. Remain in this district and lunch on your own at a café located in a series of beautifully-restored buildings with connecting courtyards that house a cinema, several cafes and bars, and the Chameleon Theater (Chamäleon Variété), a variety theater featuring everything from tap-dancers to trapeze artists to Soap, a variety show centered on feats performed around a bathtub. You might decide to return and take in a show this evening.
As you walk back to your hotel through Mitte, wander in and out of the shops, both high-end and boutique, along Friedrichstrasse.
For dinner this evening, we recommend a restaurant that is minimal, white, and sleek, and which serves a menu that is a modern take on German food of the Northern Alps. It’s the perfect place to try wiener schnitzel!
Enjoy a leisurely morning and breakfast today. Your guide will meet you in the late morning for a midday exploration of the tastes of Berlin.
The culinary scene in Berlin is experimental and energetic. You’ll find an alluring variety, ranging from innovative snack bars to gourmet cookery shops. Tailor the tour to suit your tastes: meats and cheeses, sweets, coffee and tea, whiskey, wine, or the best of local foods in season.
This is the city you can enjoy through your senses of smell, taste and touch – German tradition paired with Berliner flair. Your expert guide will give you the background information about the city’s best small groceries, a traditional coffee roaster, a tempting confectionery, “urban fast food deli,” and anything else that suits your palate.
Following your culinary tour, continue to explore on your own, visiting some of the museums for which Berlin is so famous. Make your first stop at Museum Island, named for a piece of land between two canals that holds five internationally renowned museums. Choose to visit one, two, or all five. Another museum worth visiting is the German National Museum in Mitte that covers Germany’s cultural history.
Finally, if you did not have a chance to see it on your city tour, your last stop today will be the Jewish Museum, originally founded in 1933 and closed soon after by the Nazis in 1938, until its official reopening in 2001. Deeply moving, the museum covers over 2,000 years of Jewish-German history. If you wish, stop for a break in the museum café before your visit.
Head back to your hotel to relax and freshen up before dinner. For a lighter fare, dinner this evening will be at a favorite Southeast Asian restaurant.
Instead of breakfast at the hotel this morning, you’ll have a delicious meal at KaDeWe, Europe’s second largest department store in Charlottenburg, located in former West Berlin. Though the store originally opened in 1907, an American plane crashed into the building in 1943 during the war, after which the store remained closed until 1950. The store features seven floors, the highest of which is an enormous gourmet market where you can choose from a number of stalls at which to enjoy brunch.
Visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, one of the few unrepaired World War II sites originally built in the 1890’s, and almost entirely destroyed by bombs in 1943.
Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, shopping along Charlottenburg’s main boulevards, and exploring the more residential and quaint western parts of the city.
The best place for your final dinner this evening is Kaefer’s, the rooftop restaurant of the Reichstag parliament building, which offers sweeping views and serves Asian-inspired German cuisine.
After breakfast this morning, you will be met by the hotel’s driver for your transfer to the airport in time to meet your flight home or to continue on to your next Willing Foot destination.
This is just the beginning.
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