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First trip to Berlin

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Ipswich, United...
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First trip to Berlin

I'm ashamed to say that I have never been to Berlin, although have travelled around Germany several times. I have the opportunity to stay there for 2 days in October whilst my friend works, so need to have a definite structure for such a short time - I'm not usually a structured person, but needs must.

I want to see the Wannsee Villa and I suppose Checkpoint Charlie is a must, but where else? - Brandenburg Gate, Unter dem Linden????

I will have a good look in the Rough Guide as well, but personal reviews are always more helpful.

Thank you.

Oh, I've just remembered - my fav shops in the 80s were Peek and Cloppenburg and Kaufhof - still around?

usa
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1. Re: First trip to Berlin

That's okay, I am ashamed to admit that I have not yet been to the UK, even though I have been all over Europe!

Two days obviously does not give you a lot of time, but you can certainly take some things in anyhow. First, I would suggest that Checkpoint Charlie is not a 'must' at all. It is really touristy, the museum there is mediocre and highly ideological. Were it me, I would skip it, especially if I were on a very limited schedule as you are.

The Wannsee Conference House is certainly worth a visit. You should be aware that it is on the outskirts of Berlin and - if I remember this correctly - about 35 minutes via S-Bahn from Mitte. Once at the Wannsee stop you take a bus (#114 if I recall) to the villa. Realistically it'll take an hour each way plus an hour or two at the villa. I highly recommend it but wanted to caution you on the time aspect.

I would go on one of the walking tours recommended on this forum (Brewer's and Insider Tours are two such outfits, search the forum archives for lengthy comments on the various companies and who to avoid). Most of these are 3-4 hours in duration, are very affordable, and would get you to most of the major sites in and around Mitte (city center), incl. Brandenburg Gate and so forth. You can obtain a tour to meet your interests (Cold War, Third Reich, etc.) or just a basic Berlin sites tour. On some of the specialty tours, however, please note that the companies only offer them on certain days this time of year. But a good walking tour would get you to a lot of places and be ideal for your short itinerary.

If antiquities are an interest, do the Pergamon Museum for sure.

Enjoy!! Berlin is great in October.

usa
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2. Re: First trip to Berlin

Almost forgot ... given that you seem to have an interest in history, do visit the German History Museum on Unter den Linden. A terrific museum, and you can spend a couple hours there easily (more if desired).

Ipswich, United...
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3. Re: First trip to Berlin

Thanks for your advice. I forgot to mention the wall. I presume that is worth looking at, even if CPC isn't?

usa
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4. Re: First trip to Berlin

I think the Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer) would be a better choice than CPC. I understand that part of the original Death Strip that was preserved there has now been built over ... I might be wrong but I believe so. Even still I would pay a visit there. It is on Bernauer Strasse.

berlin
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5. Re: First trip to Berlin

No, you're right - you can see how the death strip looked like in Bernauer Strasse, and the museum itself is very interesting.

Daejeon, South Korea
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6. Re: First trip to Berlin

Personally, I would say for a first trip to Berlin, it is worth going to Checkpoint Charlie as you can also visit the Berlin Wall and Topographie of Terror which are all in the same area.

canada
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7. Re: First trip to Berlin

Simple. On arrival to Berlin, buy a 72 hours transit pass, and a 3 day museum pass, open the transit map, locate your interests into regional groups, then go as far as your energy/feet allow.

London, United...
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8. Re: First trip to Berlin

I visited Berlin several times before.

If you want to visit CPC you could walk from there in the direction of Potsdamer Platz. On the way you will pass Topgraphie des Terrors where there still are parts of the wall. From Potsdamer Platz walk to the Brandenburg Gate and to Unter den Linden. Next to the Brandenburg gate is the Reichstag, but with only two days I would not recommend going up to the roof terrace, because it takes ages of queuing if you are not there with a guided group.

Walking Unter den Linden is also very nice. If you walk until Alexanderplatz you will pass the Gendarmenmarkt and many other sights. At Alexanderplatz there is a very large Kaufhof.

There is a Peek & Cloppenburg on the Tauentzien Straße next to the KaDeWe.

I have never been to the Wannsee Villa, but on the Wannsee itself and it takes a while to get there from central Berlin.

I know that this suggests a lot of walking, but this is how I mostly explore every city I visit. As an alternative I can suggest the buslines 100 and 200 both departing from Bahnhof Zoo. They pass a lot of sights and are way cheaper than the HoHo-Buses.

Ipswich, United...
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9. Re: First trip to Berlin

Thank you for all your advice and replies. I had already decided on the travel pass but now I will plan carefully so I don't miss anything. Thanks also for the locations of P&C, Kaufhof and KaDeWe. I'll try not to spend too much time in them.

Barcelona, Spain
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10. Re: First trip to Berlin

I was also going to suggest Topography of Terror, not just to see the stretch of the Wall but also for the exhibition. With such a tight schedule I would say it is a good alternative to Wannssee Villa, as I think much of the photographic material on the Nazi terror will be the same. And it's the site of the Gestapo cells,next to Nazi Air Ministry building

Re: Checkpoint Charlie: not sure if the display is still up but at Easter there were panels with interesting photos illustrating the story of the Wall (not just at Checkpoint Charlie). Checkpoint Charlie is so central that it's not hard to include it as you walk between Gendarmenmarkt and Potsdamer Platz, say, but you don't need to go into the museum.

Along Bernauer Strasse some parts of the death strip are now being built on (it's all happened in the last year or so), but opposite the Info Centre you have a reconstruction of the death strip as a memorial (best viewd from above ie viewing platform at Info centre). However again in light of time constraints, Niederkirchnerstrasse (by Topography of Terror) I think would give you a pretty good idea without going out of your way (but if you want to go to Bernauer Strasse it's S_Bahn to Nordbahnhof or U_Bahn to Bernauer Strasse (both stations out of use while Wall existed, obviously).