Our Tour of Berlin and Potsdam. 20 – 24 June 2017.
On Tuesday 20th June a select band of 12 set off on a short break to Berlin and Potsdam and a great time we had. Our guide Tom Abbott was full on knowledge, not only on Arts and Culture but history and architecture as well. We all felt we would love to do another tour with him as guide and as he does many different tours perhaps we will. The tour was organised by Michele Robinson our visits secretary through Tailored Travel. We stayed in the 4* Park Inn Hotel.
Next morning we set off in our coach for a guided tour of Berlin taking in sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish memorial, and other reminders of the Second World War, as well as an explanation what part was formally in East Berlin and what was formerly in West Berlin.
We also stopped to view the works of art at the East Side Galley on what was part of the Berlin Wall and is now a memorial to freedom. It is a large open-air collection of graffiti type murals. The murals do change since the Artists hire the space for a period of time
We stopped for lunch near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with time to explore the church and surrounding area. The old church was partially destroyed during the war and a new one has been built along side it, with the old building being used as a memorial.
The new church has some wonderful stained glass in it – but unfortunately the day was cloudy and overcast so we did not see it in its full glory. In the memorial church there were some frescos that survived the bombing and displays of other items explaining the background to the original church, which was dedicated Kaiser Wilhelm 1, the first Emperor of German.
After lunch we visited the Reichstag where we went up to the glass dome created by Sir Norman Foster as part of its restoration. There were some good views of Berlin from there. We could also walk right up to the top of the dome. We then had coffee and cake in the roof top restaurant. Our guide Thomas was a mine of information and made sure that we had plenty of information to help us get the most out of our day.
Our next day was spent at Museum Island where we visited the Pergamon and Neues museum where we saw the bust of Nefertiti among other treasures. We also had some free time to explore the museums on our own and take a boat trip. Unfortunately some of us left the boat trip too late because the heavens opened as we were about to leave the museums – so that was the end of that – although a few managed to fit in the trip on the next day
On our last full day we went to Potsdam to visit the Sanssouci Palace, the summer palace of Frederick the Great, Potsdam itself and the Cecilienhof Palace where allies met at the end of the war in 1945.
On the way we also had time to visit the Wannsee conference and memorial site, where Third Reich officers agreed the final solution for the Jews and other (in their view) undesirables. It was a beautiful and peaceful place and so sad to think what awful things were agreed there.
On our last day after checking out of the hotel we visited Charlottenburg Palace and the Jewish museum – a very thought provoking and in some ways unsettling place (which it was designed to be of course) before returning to the airport for our trip home.
(Cockwise: Wannsee, Sanssouci Palace, listening to Tom our guide, Charlottenburg Palace)