I first visited Berlin in 1967 at the height of the Cold War and again the following year, when I spent two hours queuing up to get in and out of East Berlin.
The next visit was in 1992, when I walked through the Brandenburg Gate about twenty times ‘because I could'.
I fell in love with the city, the Eastern half of which was largely a building site at the time (and remained so for the next five or six years). Nearly all the best buildings are in the Eastern part, as is the Museuminsel (Museum Island) which houses five important galleries and museums.
Near the completely rebuilt Potsdamer Platz, which was in ‘no man's land' while the wall was up, is the Kulturforum, where you can find the Gemäldegalerie with its huge art collection (14th – 19th century), including many important works by Dürer, Rembrandt and other Dutch and Flemish masters, Spanish and Italian masters etc etc. Next door is the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery), home of 20th century painting and often the venue for major exhibitions.
For more information on these and other tourist attractions, go to the links page for the Berlin website.


I visit Berlin two or three times every year and the photos below were taken in November 2008. The display will be refreshed at regular intervals.
Berlin is also the home of one of Germany's Olympic Stadia (the other is in Munich). It was the site of the 1936 Olympics, with its memories of the rise of Hitler and also the triumphs of the great Jesse Owens. The stadium, also the home of Berlin's Bundesliga football team, Hertha BSC, was renovated in preparation for the 2006 World Cup and is a stunning sight, especially at night matches.
Berlin has a rich and varied nightlife and is, in my experience, one of the least expensive of the big European capital cities, in terms of accommodation, eating and drinking, entertainment, public transport and nearly everything else. Because of its recent history as a divided city, with West Berlin being cut off from the rest of West German, the city has a unique feel that is quite different from Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg or any of the other major cities.
Berlin is now adjusting to life as the capital city again and there have been massive building programmes for government and public buildings (including the spectacular Reichstag), as well as embassies and the like.
I have not been paid by the Berlin Tourist Board for this article, but perhaps I should have been!
If you have the opportunity to visit Berlin, do so. You will see that this article has merely scratched the surface of a great city and you will have great pleasure in finding out more for yourself.







December 11th-14th 2009

This visit was obstensibly to visit their renowned Christmas Markets (like I needed a reason). The weather was cold but dry and it was pleasant enough for lots of seemingly aimless wandering around different areas of the city as well as taking in five Christmas Markets, all of which had their own particular charms. I stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel , which is right in the heart of Mitte, next to the Spree and convenient for lots of fabulous places. Although I continued my tradition of making sure that I used all the possible methods of public transport available, I travelled mostly by trams, found only in the old eastern part of Berlin, and bus, so I was mostly above ground this time.
As well as 'doing' the markets, I went to the Gemäldegalerie, as usual ( there is a display of some of the paintings on the Art page )and an exhibition at Schloß Charlottenburg on the work of Lucas Cranach and the Renaissance in Germany under the Hohenzollerns , which was interesting, although it was just as impressive simply wandering around the palace. I also went (on foot!) up to the top of the Berliner Dom, the dark, brooding cathedral, which is close to the museum island and my hotel.
Lots of nice food and drink was consumed - German, Thai, Chinese and Italian and the breakfast buffet at the hotel can only be described as 'sumptuous'.
Flights both ways were on time and without incident, despite the fact that Luton Airport was shrouded in fog on the 11th. I am sure it will not be many months before I am back in my favourite city again.


Some photos from the visit
As usual, click on a photo for a larger version.

The 'Aquadom' in the centre of the hotel.
It is the world's largest cylindrical aquarium and they even have....

...........Frogmen to do the cleaning!

The hotel bar and lounge

Now that's what I call tree decorations! (Taken from the hotel entrance)
The Market at the Rotes Rathaus, opposite the hotel, as the previous photo shows
The ice rink and big wheel at the same market
The merry-go-round
The big wheel by night
All the Christmas 'love hearts' each with its own even sweeter message. The Leckereien stalls are on all the markets, this one is at the Gedächtniskirche.
Another market - this one is at Schloß Charlottenburg
Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in festive costume
As is KDW (the Berlin equivalent of Harrods)
The ubiquitous 'Glühwein' stall
Willkommen in den Berliner Dom
Das Rote Rathaus as seen from the top of the Cathedral
One of the 'minidomes' looking down on the R.Spree
The tombs of King Frederick the Great and his wife, Queen Sophie Charlotte, in the crypt of the cathedral
More lights, these in the Passage next to the hotel