A Week in Berlin, Germany
A Week In Berlin, Germany
I recently visited Berlin, Germany for the annual ITB Travel Conference. It is the world’s largest trade fair and includes exhibitions by hotel companies, tourist boards, tourism companies, and much more. It is held in early March each year.
I went to the trade show many years ago and was overwhelmed. I re-visited again this year and it was just as overwhelming – what a spectacle! It’s like visiting every country in the world in 2 days. The event space is about 2 or 3 miles from end to end and takes a couple of days – at least – to see it all. For anyone interested in learning more, visit www.itb-berlin.com.
Berlin, on the other hand, would take many weeks to see and do. Sure, you can see the main tourist sites, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, The Jewish Memorial, the Reichstag, and the Brandenburg Gate, in a couple of days. However, Berlin is much more than the major sites. Just sitting at a neighborhood café and watching the diverse people and their different cultures on full display are worthy of a day or two. The unique architecture, lively street scene (even in Winter), great restaurants, and love of the arts require more than a short stopover.
Berlin is a city of 3.5 million people and encompasses about 350 square miles. There is an extensive subway system that will take you most everywhere in the city. However, it seems like most people choose to ride bicycles. I’m exaggerating a little, but not much! I was so surprised to see people of all ages riding to work, the grocery, moms pulling carts with kids, even the mail carrier rides a bicycle! There are dedicated bike lanes and the cars and bicycles travel in harmony.
More than 70% of Berlin was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II. The city was completely rebuilt after the war and most buildings are only 50 – 60 years old. However, the memories of the war are everywhere – bombed out buildings, museums about the atrocities of the war, the memorials. For history buffs, Berlin is a must-see.
Berlin is also an inexpensive destination. Accommodations run from modest to luxurious; however, the average nightly rate is much less than other European cities. Getting around the city is easy, efficient, and inexpensive. Restaurants and bakeries are abundant. I averaged around $6-10 per meal – in a major European city – that’s a great deal!
Shopping is also fantastic. In addition to all the luxury brand stores, Berlin has one of the largest department stores in Europe, Kaufhaus des Westens (commonly referred to as KaDEWe). The department store, located in the central city area, has six floors of everything imaginable. The 6th floor is a food lover’s paradise. You can find over 200 different sausages and a 100 different cheeses, plus excellent chocolates, prepared foods, even a buffet with countless offerings.
Even in Winter, Berlin is delightful, but I’d advise going in Summer when everyone is out and about. The trees are green, and the weather is warm but not hot. Don’t listen to me though…go for yourself. You’ll be happy you did!