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Berlin and Prague - just starting my research!

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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:06 PM
  #1
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Berlin and Prague - just starting my research!

We've now booked our summer '05 trip and have settled on Berlin and Prague. Thanks to the generosity of USAirways Dividend Miles, we'll be flying Lufthansa in first class using miles. With unused Marriott Rewards, we've booked the Berlin Marriott at Potsdamer Platz and the Prague Marriott. So, the air and hotel parts of the equation are done. (The "free air/hotel" thing is great but also takes some of the research fun away!)

Now, I've started reading past threads but already have a few questions:

1) Any recs on the train from Berlin to Prague? Buy a ticket in advance from the U.S. or once in Berlin? First class or second class differences? Since the trains rain every couple of hours, we'll probably take one mid-day.

2) Want to see the concentration camp nearest Berlin unless another is near Prague. Suggestions?

3) We really like shopping in Europe, esp. for housewares, gifts, etc. I know both cities will have lots of great shops but any specific ideas (from department stores on down) are appreciated.

I know I'll ask MUCH more later but thanks in advance for any guidance.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Re the train trip Berlin-Prague.

There are several direct (no changes) trains per day. I doubt you would need to reserve ahead of time but I would do so as soon as you get to Berlin at the Zoo station or elsewhere. If you decide to get seat reservations they will be cheaper than buying them through an agency in the US (such as RailEurope).

If you can possibly do so, try to sit on the LEFT side (facing forward) of the train for the best river views.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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There is the Sachsenhausen concentration camp which is easy to get from from Berlin. I didn't go, but my son did. From what I've read, it is quite "sanitized" now. It was used primarily for political prisoners.

The Thereseinstadt concentration camp near Prague was more "significant" in terms of the fact that many more people were murdered there. I don't know much about it, but I think others have posted about visiting it.

========
You may be able to find a budget flight from Berlin to Prague - http://www.whichbudget.com .
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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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I don't know a thing about Berlin--have never been there.

I have a page of websites and some other info for Prague. If you would like it, please e-mail me.

Terezin is a camp outside of Prague that is rather unique. The Nazis made it look like an ideal situation, so that when Red Cross inspectors visited they would think all was well. Many, however, were shipped out from there to Auschwitz and other death camps.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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a few weeks ago i inquired into the same two cities. check out the the replies i got:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34584226

two indispensible rail websites:
http://www.cd.cz/
http://www.bahn.de/

the journey is 5 hours and found costs around €50.
i read berlin has the largest department store in europe kaWeDe.

more on the rail trip here
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34539278

conc. camp info:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34477177

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Apr 6th, 2005, 03:10 PM
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Yes, the KaDeWe is the largest department store in Europe and the food hall is absolutely legendary...go if you have a chance.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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You can buy your ticket at the train station using the automatic machines. There is someone there to help you. We went to Dresden, 2nd class, purchased the ticket half an hour before departure and had reserved seats, which did not cost extra.

You might want to look up my Trip Report: Berlin & Dresden for a guidebook recommendation.

WillTravel--Sachsenhausen was also used to intern Polish Jews (there were quite a few in Berlin) at the outbreak of W.W. II in September 1939. The survivors were sent to Auschwitz in 1942.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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Thanks for the info about Sachsenhausen, Michael.

Here's an article about Terezin:
http://www.rftf2000.org.uk/commemoration/music.html
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Apr 6th, 2005, 03:55 PM
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John

I was asked to visit Sachsenhausen by an elderly neighbour when he heard I was travelling to Berlin. His brother had been murdered there and he wanted me to leave at the camp a very small item that had some personal meaning between the two brothers.

The trip took close to 45 minutes by train from Zoological Garden station to Oranienburg. From there it was a 20-minute gentle stroll to the camp. At the station there are no signs to help in your journey but when you leave from the main entrance you turn right and walk to the road intersection and from there you will find direction indicators to Sachsenhausen.

I found the place to be bleak and cold. It is large but to help you navigate there is a small map available at the cafe/information unit outside the main gates. There are still a number of buildings remaining including a few prisoner barracks, an internal prison unit, the remains of the gas chambers and a few buildings used for 'medical experiments'. The museum, located inside the camp is good and worth a visit.

When we were there we were told that Sachsenhausen was the first camp and a model for others. The leaflet I picked up at the camp's information unit puts a figure of 40,000 victims murdered there.

I am very pleased I was given the opportunity to visit. As it is an easy trip from the centre of Berlin I hope you get the chance to do the same.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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If you can handle it, defintely break your train journey in Dresden, about halfway between Berlin & Prague. There should be lockers in the train station, and it's an easy walk to the restored parts of downtown - very nice. You may also have time for a quick visit to the Green Vault - incredible collection of jewelry.

I'm pretty sure most if not all trains between Berlin and Prague stop in Dresden, so you can hop off, walk around for 2 or 4 hrs, and then hop back on.
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Apr 7th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Hi
Not far from Prague is Terezin, which was a concentration camp. It wasn't a death camp per se, but considered a transit camp, though the vast majority of its inhabitants died of overwork and starvation. At least two Prague tour companies, Wittmann and Precious Legacy, offer daytrip tours. Wittman I can vouch for, the tour was of course sobering but very informative.

I have a long file on Prague; if you'd like to see it, email me at
[email protected]
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Apr 7th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Thanks so much for the comments and ideas thus far. Keep 'em coming, please! Our guidebooks arrived yesterday so I've started browsing through the maps, etc. in each.

I like the Dresden idea. Do you know if we can stop for a few hours and then just get back on another Prague-bound train or do we need to buy separate tickets for each?
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Apr 11th, 2005, 08:45 AM
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ttt for John...

I'm going on a similar trip in July and like the Dresden idea too, so I'd like more info on the train connection.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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Hello JohnNewOrleans,

Great minds think alike. My husband and I are also traveling to Berlin and Prague in May. We are looking for inexpensive but comfortable places to stay in both cities. Any recommendations on hotels, B&B's, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, galleries and points of interest in either city will be greatly appreciated. The advice we received last year for our trip to Costa Rica was right on target.

Thanks.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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The Dresden idea would be yet more appealing if you'd stay overnight there ;-)

Anyway, here are the train connections:

Dep. Berlin-Ostbahnhof 9.42
Arr. Dresden Hauptbahnhof 12.05
Dep. Dresden Hauptbahnhof 14.05 or 16.05
Arr. Praha-Holesovice 16.23 or 18.23


Please notice that the Green Vault is closed on Tuesdays. Expect lines on Wednesday.

To do a little justice to Dresden (at least) have a short walk in the Zwinger courtyard and across the Theaterplatz with Semper Opera house, cathedral and Royal Palace. If time allows you could have a glimpse of the Frauenkirch as well (from outside). Doesn't cost more than 30 minutes.

Ingo
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Apr 13th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Thanks again for replies!

I like the Dresden stop idea. We've already secured the Marriotts in Berlin and Prague, however, and don't have another night for Dresden. If we stop, it must be for the day. This means we need to find somewhere to drop our bags (we usually travel one bag per person, but still too much to schlep around!). Can't find much info on the Dresden train station and locker availability there.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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I am almost certain the Dresden rail station has a left luggage room.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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Yes, there are large lockers in the Hauptbahnhof in Dresden. No problem at all.

I.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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This map shows you where exactly the lockers are - near the red-colored area (look for the suitcase-and-key symbol):

http://www.bahn.de/p/view/static/bah...ne/dresden.pdf
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Apr 18th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Sachsenhausen is now signposted from Oranienburg station (look for "Gedankstadt Sachsenhausen"). Although some of the most horrific buildings have been destroyed it's still an uneaasy place. There are interpretive displays at several key locations - still being added to in March 2005. One of the watch towers has audio visual interviews with civilians from the nearby town and leaves you to wonder what you would have done. The main museum has some chilling documents written by dissidents who were released from Oranienburg and who tried to make the world believe what was happening - even before WW2 started. A common misconception is that Sachsenhausen and Oranienburg are the same place. Oranienburg was one of the first concentration camps, used originally as a labour camp for political opponents. Sachsenhausen was built later on the edge of the town and was a fully fledged death camp. If I translated some of the information correctly, about 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war were killed here in a single year.
The Scots born singer Eric Bogle wrote a haunting song "Never Again" after a visit to Sachsenhausen. I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of the place until I heard the song.
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