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All I have is 1 and 1/2 days on my own in Berlin! Also, tour guides?

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Aug 27th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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All I have is 1 and 1/2 days on my own in Berlin! Also, tour guides?

I will be at a conference in Berlin September 12-14. I've managed to arrange my time to arrive on Monday September 10, and so I will have 1/2 day Monday, and Tuesday until about 6 where I can see just a bit of Berlin. (Yes, I would love to have more time but it just isn't possible right now)

I would love to hear your thoughts on optimizing my time. I clearly cannot see everything, but I don't want to waste the time I have. I am generally interested in the history of a new place, and I do enjoy museums.

I will be arriving by train from Frankfurt at 1:25 pm at the Hauptbahnhof. I am thinking of using the service that would pick up my luggage at my friend's in Frankfurt and deliver them to the hotel. In that case I would not have to worry about luggage upon arrival and could get straight to touring.

I thought either a boat or bus tour on arrival would be good for orientation to the city. I see boat trips by Reederei Riedel leaving from Moltkebruche at either 2:30 or 3:30 that I could probably easily make. I can research further, but this looks like it might not be very far from the train station?

Still have to look up where bus tours start from. Basically, I would like to find something I could easily hop onto upon arrival and get myself oriented.

Then on Tuesday, I am further researching boat/bus tours, but also walking tours. Ones that particularly interest me are the Brewers Best of Berlin and the Insider Tours Cruise and Walk. Does anyone have experience with either?

I would love it if I could find a private guide like Michael Osman in Paris. Does anyone know someone in Berlin who is good for private touring like he does? With only 1 1/2 days I don't have a lot of time to orient myself so would be great to have someone lead me

I am also working up a short list of the specific sites/museums I would like to try to hit.

I will be staying at the Concorde Berlin. I think it is maybe 3 stops on the s-Bahn from the Hauptbahnhof to Zoologischer Garten, and then walking distance to the hotel which is on Ku'damm and Augsberger.

Oh, and another question. Is the Berlin metro like the Paris metro in that you determine the terminal point of a line and then if your stop is that direction you follow signs that display the terminal point? Any metro tips would be well received.

Thanks!
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Aug 27th, 2012, 05:28 PM
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Have n clue about boat tours in Berlin - I do;t remember seeing any water.

IMHO I would head straight for the 4 sights of major interest to YOU - one on Mon and 3 on Tues.

Top of my list would be the
Pergamom museum
ReichstagBerlin
Wall Museum
Whatever you love most

Be sure to have dinner at one o f the cute outdoor cafes in the old eastern part of the city
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Aug 27th, 2012, 05:40 PM
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The boat tours are on the Spree and Landwehr canals. I have always enjoyed these kinds of tours as they give you a different perspective of a city...think the Chicago boat tours. It doesn't even matter if you can hear anything.

4 key sights might indeed be another way to go.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 05:49 PM
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Toucan, I have no knowledge specific to Berlin, but I love boat tours as initial activities in cities. Great way to see things while jet lagged, and usually an interesting perspective.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for your perspective Jubi.

I have been researching the Brewer's Best of Berlin Tours, and on TA they really get good reviews. It took pages of review before I found a bad one, and that wasn't about the tour but rather some miscommunication about a privately arranged tour time and date. Not fun, but Brewers apologized right away.

It's a six hour walking tour, heavy on history, and visits a lot of the spots I would want to visit. So I am thinking I might do that on Tuesday.

If it rains, all bets are off and I will spend a day on Museum Island
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Aug 27th, 2012, 07:38 PM
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I hope the tour takes you to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was unforgettable.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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Let me offer you a link about the project.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/09/ar...pagewanted=all
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Aug 27th, 2012, 08:08 PM
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Lsky, yes, it is listed and was one of the places I wanted to visit.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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Thank you for the link lsky, very interesting article.
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Aug 27th, 2012, 08:17 PM
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Another not specific to Berlin idea, but would you like to do a walking tour on your own? Often in guidebooks you can find them already mapped out, hitting several of the major sights in various neighborhoods?

I'm just big on doing stuff on my own, over joining organized tours. Although I do think a hop on-off bus type thing is always a good first thing to do to get a feel for a new city.

Have a ball! It sounds like a great trip!!
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Aug 27th, 2012, 08:27 PM
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Yes, generally I don't do a lot of guided tours, but I have so little time. On an actual vacation I have more time to wander, get lost a little, and find my way again. That was why I was thinking this direction, but I would really only want one that was more in depth---which is why the Brewer one sounds interesting. I would love to hear if anyone has gone on it. I haven't committed yet, just something I am thinking about.

What I would really like is to hire someone like Michael Osman for a day, but haven't had any luck yet finding any references. I've been searching this site but haven't seen anyone mention a private guide.

I am an overpreparer, so will probably do some options for walking tours to have on hand as a just in case. Last spring when I knew I might be going to this conference I requested the fodors germany book as a free guidebook, so have noted some from there. I'll make a library run for some other guidebooks too. With other events in my life this summer I haven't had a lot of time until now to try to pull it all together.

Even though I don't have much time, I want to make the most of it!
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Aug 28th, 2012, 12:20 PM
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We totally enjoyed have Jeremy Minsberg as our private guide three years ago. We tried to book him for subsequent but he was not available.

That trip was my 4th to Berlin and my husband's first. We learned so much more than a DIY or group tour and I highly recommend him. Jeremy Minsberg ([email protected])

When he was not available, he recommended Heather Mae Ellis but I cannot personally recommend her as we have not yest used her services. [email protected]
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Aug 28th, 2012, 12:33 PM
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You might find my detailed trip report helpful: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-berlin.cfm
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Aug 28th, 2012, 04:48 PM
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Thank you kfusto! I read your report, that does sound like the kind of day I am looking for. I sent an email off to Jeremy, so, fingers crossed that he might be available.
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Aug 28th, 2012, 11:29 PM
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The most efficient and memorable way to see any city is with a tour guide, or even a group tour, on foot or on a bike. Please, no bus tours unless walking is difficult for you.

You will see and learn far, far more than walking around with a tour book or printed "walk" from the city held in your hand. Plus, you can ask questions from a tour guide, as well as learn all the quirky bits about a city that no tour book has place to mention.

Every time I read the Rick Steves "walk" through Frankfurt, I want to cry, it is so awful. The one the city publishes, is almost as bad.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 12:42 AM
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Just a bit on your other questions:

Yes, the Moltkebrücke stop for boat excursions is just a stone's throw from Hauptbahnhof.
Take Washingtonplatz exit and walk across the river. Appr. 5 min walking from the trains.
The river cruises are usually less than an hour and are okay but show only a bit of the city center East, obviously. With very little time, it may be wiser to skip it, go to hotel first and then on a tour on foot.

The Berlin subway has the same style of signage as in Paris re. Final destinations/terminus as you described. The S-Bahn has same but here trains of several lines share platforms like on a "real railway".

Your hotel will be in easy walking distance from Zoo station, and with many stores, eateries, restaurants in walking distance up and down Kudamm. The next stop for city tour buses is literally around the corner at Kudamm. As the city is somewhat spread out, a bus tour has its upsides, as many tourists just see what is in a half-mile diameter around Brandenburg Gate. But for starters you could just catch the subway, go to Potsdamer Platz and see the sights in the Mitte district or take a walking tour of that part of town. The bus tour could be a fall back option for rainy weather, though.

For a nightcup in walking distance from your hotel, you can try out the bars and pubs or restaurants around Savignyplatz, maybe 10 mins walking across Kudamm .
Or take subway line 1 from your hotel towards Warschauer Str. and explore the neighborhood around Görlitzer Bahnhof subway stop. Tons of pubs, eateries, restaurants in that area with a somewhat "alternative" touch.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 05:26 AM
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Toucan2; Here is a free walking tour of 3 1/2 hours. We have ysed them in Munich and thourght it was excellent.

The guides receive tips. www.newberlintours.com This site has a little information on Berlin www.inyourpocket.com/germany/berlin

Enjoy the free time you have.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 06:22 AM
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Thanks again. Jeremy is available! I spoke to a friend who is also going to the conference and arriving Tuesday morning so we are going to spend the day with Jeremy as a tour guide. I know it will be a great day, and as you say, we will be able to ask questions and see a lot of the city by foot.

Cowboy, thank you so much for the extra detail. I had misunderstood the timing on the luggage delivery so will need to go straight to the hotel first on Monday afternoon, drop the luggage off then spend a bit of time on my own that afternoon. I'll have a few options in mind and let weather and mood guide me. Thank you for the additional tips on restaurants etc.

On the Wednesday night it looks like there will be an event at Wasserwerk which looks like fun! It will include a performance by Adagio.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 11:47 AM
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Toucan, please tell Jeremy that Kim from FL sends her regards. So pleased you were able to get him for the day!

Enjoy Berlin - it is a very interesting city and one of our favorites in Europe.
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Aug 29th, 2012, 09:08 PM
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kfusto, I will certainly do that!
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