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Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

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Houston, TX
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Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Hi, Group,

Patience and kindness here, please....uncertain plans. My holiday travel plans are probably changing last moment. Mexico is becoming Germany. I fly standby and I am considering finally going to Berlin for the first time next week. (Yes, I totally understand that it's very late for a holiday trip.

I have read posts and really need some guidance, which I so appreciate. I can't book an apartment more than a day or so before a flight, as I may not get a seat. I plan to stay about 2 weeks. I spend a lot of time in Italy and this will be my first trip to Germany (not counting half-day layovers.)

I am traveling sola, 50's, female, friendly/meet people easily, love contemporary art galleries/museums/openings; some history but I don't want to be overwhelmed by the tragedy of atrocities---the "top" places will suffice only because I know it will be terribly emotional for me. I enjoy many foods other than what I probably wrongly stereotype as "German," wine/vodka drinks, one-off boutiques and design. I am a night person, dining around 9-10pm. Enjoy a drink and dinner for a couple of hours, a nice bar (not pubs probably). I'm well past my hardcore nightclub years.

Questions:

1. Safety--Mitte, PB, ok even rather late at night? I'll pay attention to my instincts, but is there anything specifically to be aware of?

2. Assuming I can get an apartment in Mitte, do I stay near Hackesher market? I am trying to Google map this, and can't get a grasp of the areas, which seem to overlap. Good "atmosphere" but not extremely scruffy. West Berlin seems too shiny and vanilla for me...perhaps I'm wrong? Sounds like the urban apartment site is the way to go in Berlin vs airbnb/Venere/Booking.com?

3. Considering using my 2 free Hyatt nights at the Hyatt Berlin on nights they have availability. Has anyone stayed there and enjoyed it? I was going to use them in London in April (where I've also never been--I travel south, Mediterranean normally) , but is Berlin Hyatt a good use instead?

4. Communal table restaurants that you recommend? Budget is relative--I like gyro dives, curry houses, vegetarian, steakhouse, sushi, prix fixe is easy, fusion--I have a fairly wide budget range, but not too romantic a place, as I'm alone.

5. NY Eve--I'm normally not one for outdoor throngs, but the Berlin party sounds like fun. Which location is best for me to stay in to be near the main event? In my 50's, I want to know that there's an easy toilet nearby! :-)

6. Do you buy a weekly transport pass, or individual metro/train tickets? I've read on TA that there are daily passes. Anything to know like "you must validate tickets before boarding" type things?

7. Do the boutique 50%+ sales start right after Christmas, or in January like Italy?

I am genuinely grateful for your help and advice. I hope I get the flight. If not, I'll use your info when I go after the holidays.

Thank you and happy holidays.

Lana

Houston, TX
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1. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Fortunately, someone just posted on the UBahn question, so I see that in general, I validate. I wonder about an all-transport pass vs one including attractions. Guess the only way to compare is to know ahead the prices of the museums I intend to visit when I'm considering the 5 day+ passes. What is the most comprehensive pass sold? There is value to me to simplify--one pass for all or set # of museums and all local transport.

Can I buy this at the airport so I use the TXL train and start using the pass on arrival?

Thanks.

Lana

sydney
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2. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

check out the Berlin Welcome card - we did the comparisons but ended up not getting one & just bought day passes as we needed them.

we rented a cool apartment near Rosenthaler Platz through airbnb... 3min walk to the train/tram, supermarket round the corner, quiet neighbourhood, owner lived downstairs & was super friendly

loved the German History museum & recommend a walking tour - good to get your bearings & orientate yourself with the city. you can then go back later & explore anywhere that takes your fancy

we had 6 days in Berlin (we're in your demographic) - my blog might give you some ideas - this is for our first full day there …blogspot.com.au/2013/01/walking-tour-sausag…

cheers

helen

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3. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Lana, if museums are one of your main reasons for visiting Berlin, the pass you need is the Museum Pass. It gives free entry to all 55 State museums, including virtually all of the important ones: the five Museum Island museums, the Kulturforum museums, and the Charlottenburg museums. And the one to go for is the €50 Annual pass. It will pay for itself in 5 or 6 visits, since the entry fee at most of the museums is €10.

This website gives general information, but does not mention the Annual pass: I suppose because it's assumed that few tourists will want it. I've had three of them so far, and have saved a fortune. The Annual pass is available only at a few sites: one of them is the Altes Museum. There is a half price option which limited entry hours, which wouldn't suit me but might be worth looking into when you get there.

visitberlin.de/en/article/museum-pass-berlin

For transport and reduced entry to museums not covered by the Museum Pass, and discounts on many other attractions, you should investigate the 5-day Welcome Card (obviously you'd need three of them!) All the information you need about it, and about all transport options, is here:

http://www.bvg.de/index.php/en/index.html

I haven't time now to respond fully to your other questions, but will try to do so later today. Briefly: Mitte is safe, Hackscher Markt is a very good area, close to the Museum Island and lots more; and Urban Apartments Berlin are reliable and helpful. However, the Adina Apartment Hotel might suit you and would be worth looking into.

adina.eu/adina-apartment-hotel-berlin-hackes…

More later.

Edited: 21 December 2013, 08:09
Stuttgart, Germany
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4. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Lana ,hotels are much more expensive in London so your Hyatt vouchers might be better used there.

Houston, TX
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5. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Thank you all for the museum, apartment and pass advice. I will probably buy the annual pass- great idea. I'm going to look into each of your links.

Hmmm... Thmoore. Not Mitte? Were there plenty of cafes and shops near you or was it more residential? Of course, with last moment, I won't have the luxury of much choice, but if I do get a choice, I narrowed it to Mitte. Rosenthaler--does that overlap areas of Mitte? I really need a good Berlin map. Think I'll head to the book sore. I love those laminated foldable city maps, even though I use ipad while walking for navigation. I like the overview of the map.

Thanks for the hotel advice. I love these hotel/air credit card bonuses! I have 2 nights at any Hyatt and 2 (+2 for later) at any Fairmont. Fairmont blocks out most of London Savoy...I was able to pester customer service until I received 2 early-April nights. Weather isn't ideal, but I'm not going to pay $750-$1000 nightly for a hotel (and probably wouldn't want a sweetie to either) so it's probably the only time I'll stay there. I'm was thinking of using the two Hyatt nights in London late March (expires then, I waited too long) before the Fairmont nights. Yes?

I considered Hyatt around NY Eve in Berlin if I could get it just because it looks like such a lovely hotel and rates are very high around then. Don't know if I can persuade customer service to allow the stay anyway. Wanted to know if Berlin Hyatt is worth it before I go into persistence-mode.

Happy travels,

Lana

Edited: 21 December 2013, 23:38
Stuttgart, Germany
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6. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

I haven't been in the Hyatt in Berlin,though a few friends like it a lot. A good location for NYE if you want to party by the Gate and then stroll home.

Yes two free nights at the Hyatt and the two at the Savoy takes the sting out of London. When I lived in London the Savoy was one of my favorite places, I haven't seen it since the restoration.

sydney
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7. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Hi again Lana

We alwasy assumed where we were near Rosenthaler Platz was part of Mitte ... Rosenthaler Platz was our closest station/tram stop

helen

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8. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Helen, do you have the apartment info by any chance?

Hyatt Berlin for NY Eve looks to be impossible, so I'll try for London Hyatt rather than after January 1 in Berlin. Appreciate the advice.

I think that I can get a seat on the December 28 flight, so I'll look for an apartment December 29-January 4 or so. I'll figure out what I'll do for the following night after I'm in Berlin for a while. Yes, I do like spontaneity, despite some occasional unfortunate consequences :-)

Thanks,

Lana

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9. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Hi Lana,

I've just checked on airbnb and the apartment we rented is not available for your dates.

looks like there are others in Mitte still available though.

helen

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10. Re: Berlin confusion: Where to stay, what to do?

Hi, Helen, thanks for checking. Once I'm more certain that I'll be able to fly next week, I'll go on airbnb and urban-apartments and post 2-3 choices so hopefully you and some other knowledgeable posters can guide me to the "best" one.

Lana