When I was in Berlin slightly more than 2 months ago to attend global brand Miele’s worldwide launch of the Dialog Oven (read about that here and here), I was fortunate to have had 2 free days for some sightseeing!
So in case you find yourself in this part of the world sometime soon… here are 10 things I highly recommend you should do :
TOUCH THE BERLIN WALL
Of course, what’s a trip to Berlin without seeing the historically famous BERLIN WALL? This was my first stop.
I won’t bore you with too much historical facts about this sight, but will just share with you a little tidbit of information about its origin. The Berlin Wall was the “great divider” of Germany during the Cold War. It was constructed in 1961 and this is what separated the country between the West (which was controlled by France, Britain and America) and the East (which was controlled by the Soviet Union). The Berlin Wall therefore split Europe into two and divided the German city of Berlin for almost 30 years. It was a symbol of hostility and division between the country and its people.
It was on November 9, 1989 that an announcement was made that the Wall can now be torn down. People from the West side celebrated the end of divided Germany by chipping off and tearing down the wall with hammers. But it was only on October 3, 1990 that Germany was officially recognized as one and was unified as a single country!
Nowadays there are only 2km left of the Berlin Wall. But this time around, this wall stands as a symbol of freedom and liberation. The longest, best-preserved and most interesting stretch is the 1.3km-long section called East Side Gallery because of the many murals painted by international artists in 1990 and again in 2009.
These days anyone can go to the Berlin Wall! Yes, anyone can cross — no guards, no checkpoint! So go ahead and touch it and have a photo with it if you must!
TAKE THE RIVER CRUISE
On our first day, we were treated by the Miele group to a River Cruise of the city. This is another (a relaxing) way to see Berlin – from the river! We cruised along the River Spree while we saw Berlin’s most iconic buildings, monuments and museums such as the Berliner Dom, Museum Island, Reichstag and the TV Tower.
The city of Berlin alone has about 200 km (125 miles) of waterways – rivers, canals and lakes and 950 bridges. So if you are indeed pressed for time, seeing the city via a boat would be the easiest and most convenient for you.
Since the River Cruise is a favorite among both locals and tourists alike, there are many companies and tour groups available. From tourist cruises to romantic night cruises to bus-and-boat combos, there are so many companies you can choose from. Just click this link here if you are interested to know more about them!
SEE THE BRANDENBURG GATE
The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s most famous landmark. Just like the Berlin Wall, this too was a symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War. But fortunately, this is now a national symbol of peace and unity.
It was here that on June 12, 1987, US President Ronald Reagan issued his stern command to his Cold War adversary (Soviet Union) saying: “Mr. Gorbachov – tear down this wall!”
VISIT THE CHARLOTTENBURG PALACE
The next must-see when in Berlin is the beautiful palace of Charlottenburg, or what they refer to as Schloss Charlottenburg. This was built by Elector Friederich III in 1699 as a summer palace for his wife Sophie Charlotte. It is a regal estate and the largest palace in Berlin — and is beautifully framed by a baroque-style garden.
Inside is a collection of 18th century French paintings, which happens to be the largest of its kind outside France. Visitors can now see the Old Palace, with its baroque rooms, royal apartments, Chinese and Japanese porcelain collections and silverware chambers, as well as the New Wing, with its rococo splendor and fine furniture, added by Friederich the Great.
TAKE A LOOK AT KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz is another one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. The ruin of the old church has now been converted into a war memorial.
This church is now the symbolic centre of West Berlin, an anti-war memorial to peace and reconciliation. What’s good to note is that this is the only building on the square which was spared by the World War II bombing and deliberately preserved as a part ruin.
PAY A VISIT TO BERLIN CATHEDRAL
The Berlin Cathedral (Protestant) or Berliner Dom on Museum Island is Berlin’s largest church and one of the major sights in the city’s centre.
The Berlin Cathedral was completed in 1905 and is considered to be Berlin’s most important Protestant church. Even though this church was heavily damaged during the war, and closed until 1993, restoration efforts were done until 2006 — including the unveiling of eight mosaics which decorate the dome’s ceiling. It was only in 1980 that the parishioners were able to celebrate mass again and baptism and funerals were carried out.
Before we headed out to our next sights, we took a break and had one of the city’s most famous snacks : the Currywurst!
What is it, really? This is made of German pork sausage (Bratwurst) cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup — a sauce based on spiced ketchup or tomato paste, topped with curry powder, often served with French fries.
If there’s one snack you must have when in Berlin, it has to be this! And fret not, as there are many stalls across the city. I got mine from across the park! *Would you know where to get one in Manila???
SEE THE FRENCH CATHEDRAL
The French Cathedral is one of three major buildings at Gendarmenmarkt, along with the Konzerthaus and Deutscher Dom. It was erected as a place of worship for the French Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France, also known as French Calvinists).
The Französischer Dom or French Cathedral is not a cathedral in the traditional sense of the word. The German name of Dom refers to the “domed” tower later erected on the existing church in 1785, almost one hundred years after it had been built originally.
GO INSIDE THE REICHSTAG
Last but certainly not the least, when in Berlin : you have to see the Reichstag, one of the city’s most frequently visited sights. This is a very important building in the country as it is also the seat of the German parliament, the Bundestag.
One of the highlights include a lift ride to the top of the building to a large viewing terrace for the breathtaking views of Tiergarten.
It is also famous for its towering glass dome and mirror cylinder right inside and in the middle of the building!
But here’s my tip for tourists : bring your passport when buying your tickets!
DINE AT TIM RAUE
And finally, I cannot end this post about Berlin without a mention of my favorite meal in the city! On our last night, we got a table reservation at TIM RAUE (this is the name of the chef too), the only restaurant in the city that made it to the list of the World’s 50 Best, and one that has been awarded with two Michelin stars!
I was in fact surprised to see that event hough the chef is German, the menu is something close to our hearts — Southeast Asian! The ingredients are top quality, the flavors are a mix of sweet and savoury, mild and sharp, soft and crispy.
And if there’s one dish you must have, it’s the Suckling Pig served with dashi and Japanese mustard (lower right in the photo above). It was crispy, juicy and scrumptious down to the bone!!!
Suffice to say that everything we had from beginning to end was just DELICIOUS. All the dishes were presented beautifully and in a quirky way. Not to mention that service was just excellent.
Here is Chef Tim Raue himself who welcomed me inside his kitchen! Congratulations on the restaurant’s well-deserved recognitions and awards!
So this caps it all for my short 2-night, 3-day stay Berlin! If you have questions, comments and feedback, do leave me a comment below!