02 Sep Arriving to Berlin, the German jewel
A good way to get over the jet lag is to wait on the substantial line to go up to the glass cupola in the building, which provides a good “starter” view of the city. After the Reichstag, you can walk to the Brandenburger Tor and admire the statue on top of the gate. Adjacent to the gate is the Adlon Hotel, recently more famous for Michael Jackson’s baby-dangling escapades than for its glamorous clientele and the fact that Queen Elizabeth II owns part of the hotel.
On a pleasant day, this is a good place to sit and drink a coffee or eat a quick meal – Berlin is famous both for its sausages and for its döner kebabs, which have been brought to Germany by the substantial Turkish minority. After a döner and some snapshots, the next thing to do is walk down Unter den Linden in the direction of the Fernsehturm (TV tower) and Alexanderplatz. At the Fernsehturm you can stand in a long line again for the opportunity to go up the 368 meters to see the entire city. Once at the top, however, one can eat at the city’s highest restaurant, which actually revolves 360 degrees approximately every 30 minutes.
There are plenty of quality shops and cafes in the vicinity of Under den Linden, including the large Dussmann Kulturkaufhaus (a book, music, and media store). Unter den Linden intersects with Friedrichstraβe, which is near the historic Museuminsel (literally: Museum island – really more of a peninsula). No trip to Berlin is complete without a venture out there, especially to see the priceless antiquities at the Pergamon. Free audio guides are available there in many languages, so even if you are not a classics expert, you will become one! Since Museuminsel is formed by the river Spree, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon is on one of the many boat tours offered by various companies.
A popular spot is the art complex Tacheles, located on Oranienburger Strasse. It began as an anarchistic squat and now features bars, galleries, theatres, and a cinema within its walls. During the day it is free to enter and browse or purchase from the galleries of the many local artists who display here.
In the past century, Berlin has undergone more identity shifts than Bob Dylan. Too many people, Berlin evokes unfortunate images of World War II or stereotyped images of lederhosen, but the reality is that Berlin is a vibrant city of the 21st century. Often the conflict between Old Berlin and New Berlin overwhelms visitors, so this short introductory guide aims to lay out a few must-see spots within walking distance of each other. Your trip will most likely start at the new Hautbahnhof (main train station), which sits near the German parliament building (Reichstag).