Tag Archives | Germany

WHAT TO DO IN BERLIN FOR FUN (part two)

What to do in Berlin, you ask? Have fun, and don’t get caught! There’s visiting the Reichstag (and take some golf balls: I’ve got a dare for you), sneaking into an unassuming bank building that belies a suprise interior, a picnic in the Lustgarten and then some cathedral crashing.

The Reichstag

Home to Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag was opened in 1894, suffered damage and destruction for decades and was rebuilt in the 1990′s. Go early (it opens at 8:00 daily) to avoid the worst lines.

Once inside, you’ll walk a spiraled ramp hugging the perimeter of a glass dome (representing transparency in government) to be treated to an unparalleled 360-degree view of Berlin at the top.

Now here’s your mission, if you choose to accept it. GOLF BALLS! Oh, how I yearned to have a handful of golf balls to toss down the ramp to see if they’d roll all the way to the bottom. I asked one of the INFORMATION guys if anyone had ever attempted.

“Never,” he replied stoically, revealing all the gaity and sense of humor for which Germans are famous.

Reichstag Berlin

DZ BANK BUILDING

Once you’ve completed your Reichstag mission, head to Brandenburg Gate (an easy walk), check it out for a minute, then walk through to the Pariser Platz square, which usually teems with people, but no one pays attention to the innocuous DZ Bank building, number 3, rectangular and staid, blending innocently enough into the surroundings, easily overlooked. Act like you know what you’re doing and that you belong there, and sneak past the guards for a quick look inside.

Your reward: a towering, curvaceous carp formed from titanium and glass as only Frank O. Gehry can design. Now take you picture (mine below) and get the hell out!

Gehry Building Berlin

Lustgarten

You packed a gourmet lunch with your purchases from the KDW food hall yesterday, right? Well, walk to Museum Island and enjoy a picnic in the Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden). Nosh, watch Berliners at rest and play, and get in some good lusting.

BERLINER DOM

The Berliner Dom Cathedral is right there (I love its proximity to the Lustgarten’s LUST signs). The domed ceiling is stunning.

Viewing is allowed during scheduled hours, but not during services. But in the spirit of today’s adventures, why let that stop you?

Berliner Dom Berlin

Berliner Dom Berlin Ceiling

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SONY CENTER BERLIN: THE CITY’S CENTERFOLD

Who knew Berlin was so photogenic? And that the Sony Center Berlin makes for such an attractive centerfold.

After a couple big ‘ol frosty steins of hefeweizen at a random restaurant in the centrally-located Potsdamer Platz neighborhood, I weave over to the Sony Center and take the best photos of the trip. I’ve found that a few drinks actually improves my:

  • Speaking in public,
  • Golfing,
  • Sex,
  • Taking photos and
  • Telephone interviewing for a job

Although there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns. Also worth noting, a cocktail or two tends to have a deleterious effect upon:

  • Driving,
  • Taking the SATs,
  • Scrapbooking,
  • Painting my nails and
  • In-person interviewing for a job

The Sony Center Berlin is a futuristic building containing a mix of shops, restaurants, a conference centre, hotel rooms, rented suites and condominiums (I could see myself living here), offices, art and film museums, cinemas, an IMAX theater, a small version of Legoland, and a “Sony Style” store. If you’re sightseeing in Berlin and it’s a rainy day, this is the place to go.

 

SONY CENTER BERLIN MONEY SHOTS

1) View across the street from Sony Center Berlin:

View from Sony Center Berlin

 

2) Inside Sony Center Berlin.

Sony Center Berlin

 

3) Berlin Film and Television Museum (Deutsch Kinemathek Museum fur Film and Fernsehen). I didn’t really enjoy this museum all that much, but then I’m not a film buff. By the way, The Germans love their Marlene Dietrich.

Berlin Film and Television Museum

 

4) Building next to Sony Center

Building Next to Sony Center Berlin

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WHAT TO DO IN BERLIN FOR FUN

Romance blossoms in Paris, Rome is the Drama Queen and London oozes sophistication. But Berlin is cool. Berlin’s got edge. And it offers much as its capital city counterparts, even if it doesn’t receive the same billing. If you’re wondering what to do in Berlin, Europe’s most under-rated city, here are some recommendations.

BERLIN PASS

Buy The Berlin Pass if you’re staying at least three days (it’s my favorite museum city). For 82 Euros you’ll receive entry into greater than 45 museums and galleries and 10 additional attractions, public transport (to specific zones) and a 95-page guidebook of what to do in Berlin.

PROPELLER ISLAND CITY LODGE

If you like staying at unique properties, spend at least a night at the Propeller Island City Lodge for the thrill of it. You know it’s not your father’s hotel when there’s a sign in the display case at the front desk forbidding sex in the coffins. So much for THAT item on your bucket list.

They’re referring to the coffin beds (complete with lids) in the Gruft room, one of 30 habitable sculptures individually designed and custom-made by the artist Lars Strochen. The rooms range the gamut from kinky (Mirror Room) to creepy (Two Lions) to bizarre (Upside Down) to kitschy (Grandma’s) to minimal (Chicken Curry). I think if there’s one over-arching theme, it’s a sense of humor: if you take yourself too seriously, this may not be the best place for you.

I stayed in the peaceful Tempel, (one of the more sedate rooms, with a view of the tree-lined street below) because I’m worship-worthy.

Propeller Island City Lodge Berlin Tempel Room

KAUFHAUS DE WESTENS (KaDeWa) FOOD HALL

Kauhaus de Westens (Department Store of the West) is Europe’s second-largest department store, boasting a food hall rivaling Harrod’s. The 6th and 7th floors are entirely devoted to gourmet, and advertisements tout the place as having two football fields of food. The top floor includes a winter garden with a 1000-seat restaurant surrounded by windows. I had read that the herring sandwiches were to-die-for, but they looked pretty sterile and mass-produced to me. My grilled bratwurst, however, was heaven.

KaDeWe sandwiches

UNSICHT-BAR RESTAURANT

Dine in the dark at unsicht-Bar, Berlin’s “blind restaurant”. My NUMBER ONE recommendation for what to do in Berlin.

KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH

See the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church for contrasting architecture (it was originally built in 1890, and rebuilt in 1963 after suffering extensive damage in a WWII bombing raid).

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Berlin

WINNING WIENERS

Eat a currywurst, a fried pork sausage smothered in curry ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder, because everyone’s doing it.

SHOPPING

Shop the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood’s modish shops and galleries. Buy a Berlin Luxe City Guide before you leave home so you don’t miss a thing.

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