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JoeTro's Berlin itinerary review ... fast-paced

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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:00 PM
  #1
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JoeTro's Berlin itinerary review ... fast-paced

Okay, I've done my research and have an itinerary review for people's thoughts. I'm young, like art and move fast. I know this pace is very, very hectic, but I can always cut back if I need to.

My main questions are about the order ... are my groupings okay? I've tried to arrange museums the last 3 days to coincide with the Berlin State Museum Pass, so I realize I am making multiple trips to MuseumIsland, for example.

The other question is about public transport. Is it worth my buying a day-pass for each day or a larger-length pass? I think I've decided against Welcome Card or similar things as I'm a student and can get good discounts that way.

Thanks!

TUESDAY

Arrive at 2 pm, Airport Express to Zoo Garten stop then walk to Kaiser-Wilhelm Church

Walk to Hotel Am Savignyplatz

Jewish Museum

Dinner

Checkpoint Charlie until 10

WEDNESDAY

Berliner Dom at 9 am

Walk to catch 10:30 Brewer’s Free Tour until 2

Lunch on the run

Max Liebermanhaus (are there paintings by him here, or is all temporary exhibitions?)

Topography of Terror Museum until 6 pm

Opera at 7 pm

Do I need to wear anything fancy to the opera? I’m sure I’ll be hot and gross from walking around all day (and going on the walking tour).

THURSDAY

Potsdam Daytrip – take S1 to Potsdam and then bus 695

Arrive early, definitely before 9 am

Visit Sanssoci gardens (is this possible before 9 am)

Sanssoci Palace at 9

Wander Gardens

Neues Palace

Get to other part of Potsdam (How?)

Marble Palace

Cecillenhof Palace until 5

Back to Berlin

Germaldiegalerie until 10 or I pass out

FRIDAY

Charlottenberg Palace gardens early, maybe 7:30-8

Charlottenberg Palace at at 9 am

Neuer Flugel wing (Is it worth it?)

Berggruen Museum

Pergamon Museum until 6

SATURDAY

Walk around Nikolaiviertel early

Nikolaikirche at 10

Mary Church

Bodemuseum

Kupferstechkabinett

Neue Nationalgalerie until 6

SUNDAY

Wander around K’Damm/Tiergarten

Alte National Museum at 10 am

New Synagogue unless already seen on tour

Altes Museum

Time for anything else?

Bus X9 or 109 to Tegel Airport from Savignyplatz, probably around 5:15-5:30 for 7:45 flight

_______________________________________

I may need to visit the Reichstag early or late one day if I haven't seen it on the tour.


THINGS I'D HOPED TO FIT IN:

Brucke Museum
German History Museum
Story of Berlin
Sophienkirche


The Brucke museum especially I would love to see, but it's a bit far out. Is there something I could take out to replace it with?

Would Sophie Church fit anywhere? Seems like that would not take very long.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:07 PM
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I don't think I have much to add, but just curious, which opera are you attending, and what kind of seats do you have. And which opera house is this?
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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BTW, wouldn't it cheaper to buy a 7-day travel pass than buying individual day ticket?

It's 25,40 euro for AB zone 7-day
I think you can pay a extra fee for your Potsdam day to cover zone C

The Day ticket is 6,10 euro for AB.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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I honestly had not looked into transport cards much at all. The 7 day might be a good option, thanks!

As for the opera, I'm seeing Figaro at the Staatsoper. I bought the cheapest ticket possible (16 Euros) and got 1/2 off for being a student. So I don't anticipate anything great but that's okay. I'm honestly not a big opera person, but I'm trying adding cultural things to my travels.

My ticket says 3. Rang Mitte recht
Reihe 4 Platz 4

I have no idea what this means since I speak not a word of German. I've heard, though, that it can be hard to find seats, so I'll try to get there a bit early.

Is Figaro a comedy? Seems like I might like that kind of opera a bit more than the 5+ hour ones where everyone kills themselves.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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Oops!! I just realized the opera will be in Italian with German subtitles. I honestly didn't think about that! I just assumed there would be English subtitles too.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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Given that you're sitting in the cheapest section, I think whatever you wear would be fine - as long as it's not shorts + sneakers.

When you say "Figaro" I assume you meant Marriage of Figaro by Mozart? yes, it's a comedy. You may want to familiarize yourself with the storyline because of the lack of English subtitles. I think the Met Opera's website has opera synopsis. Hey, it might even be worthwhile to buy yourself a CD of the opera and listened to it before your trip.

I don't speak German either, but your ticket says something about 3rd level, Right side...

As far as the Gemäldegalerie is concerned, don't forget to look for the 2 Vermeers and 2 Bruegels.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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I think your list and order are fine, but you have too much on the list. Make sure you prioritize, so you don't visit random minor sights and miss the ones you'll enjoy more.

A couple of things I would change.

Add KaDeWe dept store on K'Dam, not far from KW church. On the top floor is gourmet food area - great place to grab a bite to eat at relative low cost & high, fresh quality. You can pick up something to go as well, so you don't need to seek out dinner near your hotel.

You could also stop in as you stroll K'dam on Sunday.

Definitely add a walk around the Reichstag, Brandenberg gate area, and allow for some relaxation/reflection time. Just 1 block towards Potsdamerplatz from Brandbenberg Gate is an outdoor holocost mememorial - 1000 or so black granite blocks set in rows. I'm not sure I like the memorial, but it's a place you can get lost and reflect on the horrors of the era to yourself for a few minutes.

I would cut out several museums and give yourself more time for enjoying the sights. I like the Pergamom above all the others - it has unique exhibits I've never seen elsewhere.

Sights like the Berliner Dom are 5min peek in my opinion as you head to Alexanderplatz or to the Pergamom.

Enjoy your trip. Beware of the sidewalk scam 'hide the lady" - It's a total tourist scam with a group of 4-5 working in cahoots. Several people seem to win 50Euros by guessing which cup the ball is hiding under. The artist will appear to slip up and show YOU the ball, but hidden compartments hide it on you. YOU CANNOT WIN. DON'T FALL for the scam!!
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Apr 14th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Thanks for the tips. I won't play the cups game.

KaDeWe does look appealing for quick meals, and it's one of the reasons I picked the hotel I did.

I know it sounds crazy, but I really love to visit museums so I will try to fit many in.

I think the tour on Wednesday includes many of the Mitte places you have mentioned, but I will have to stroll around there some if I've missed anything.

I may skip out on Checkpoint Charlie as people seem to comment that it is expensive and disappointing.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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I can't speak for others, but we (me and my parents) all enjoyed the exhibits at Checkpoint Charlie.

Another vote for KaDeWe. One can get a cheap meal in the cafeteria on the top floor.

My trip to Berlin was in 2003, so things may have changed since. Topograph of Terror's exhibit was all in German, but they offered a English audioguide for free. It was very lengthy and detailed.

I can't remember whether it was Charlottenberg Palace or Sanssouci where visitors can only tour with the guided tour, and the tour was conducted in German only. But, we were given a English handout for translation.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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There is a very nice café near the Cecilienhof, although I am not sure if the outdoor part will be open in the Spring.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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hi, joe,

assuming from what you say that your trip is in the summer, wear as little as you decently can for your opera trip - we were there in July and it was very very hot in there. there is a very nice cafe outside, but it gets very busy before the performance.

the charlottenburg is lovely - do you know you can get there [or back] by boat on teh river - it drops you back near t hemuseums which you may find useful.

the restaurants on the other side of the street from the entrance are very nice - when we were there in July 2005 they all had dishes made with the tiny pilzen? mushrooms, which we guessed were in season then. very nice, but not for every meal!

by the river in the nikoaiviertel, there is a very nice brewery with its own restaurant, with tables outside - lots of atmosphere. the area beyond, called teh fischerinsel is also very interesting - lots of boats on the water, some of them turned into bars and restaurants.

and if you can, do fit in the deutsches historisches museum - we were very impressed with the exhibition about the treatment of jews in europe through the ages, including their commercial exploitation by the nazis - no punches pulled. not only that, but A/C too!

regards, ann
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:35 PM
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Joe, I found the museums in Berlin to be rather large and they all take a lot of time to really see them properly.

I really enjoyed a boat tour on the Spree and also going to the top of the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. The view up there is amazing!

I second a visit to KaDaWe though I did not find it especially cheap up there.

If you can check out the East Side Gallery and Tacheles but it sounds like you won't have too much extra time!
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:40 PM
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JoeTro, this seemed positively tame compared to your Vienna itinerary, or maybe I'm just getting used to your trips!

Here are some first quick thoughts:

-I think that the 7 day pass is the only multiple day transit passes. I think it would be cost effective for you. The 7 day costs 31,30&euro and the daily passes cost 6,10&euro for AB and 6,30&euro for ABC. The daily are more widely available; the 7 day more limited. You will want to purchase the pass at the airport. Lots of info here:
http://www.bvg.de/index.php/en/Bvg/Start The way I read it, the zone C add on would be for one trip only, not to use all day going around Potsdam.

-In Potsdam, I'm not sure the Marble Palace is open. When I was there it was pretty convincingly wrapped in plastic. Your Berlin ABC transit pass will cover all public transportation in Potsdam. The map we bought at the train station bookstore had all the bus and tram routes on it. Also there is a hop-on-hop-off bus, but I'm not sure how frequently it operates. The TI is near the Brandenburg Gate (pretty new location.)

-I'd still recommend skipping the free half day tour and either (a) read a good background/history book on Berlin and know that you WILL see almost every one of the tour stops as you travel around to the things on your itinerary, OR (b) take the Third Reich Tour on Thurs. or Sat. afternoon (Or look at similar tours from the other tour companies), and readjust your schedule accordingly.

-The Dom is very near the Opera, and also very near Museuminsel, so I'd go there when I was in the neighborhood. Across from the Opera is the Neue Wache -Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Unknown Concentration Camp Victim - with the iconic sculpture by Kathe Kollwitz of the Mother with Dead Son (actually a copy). It's just a peek in the door thing, takes about 10 minutes, but worth it, imo. Next to that is the Zeughaus with the dying warrior keystone sculptures in the courtyard, which I really wish I could have seen (but didn't have the address with me on the day we were nearby).

The Neue National Gallery is so close to the Gemaldegallerie, it would be a pity not to group them. You walk out the back door of the Gemaldegallerie and the Neue is right across the street. Be aware that the Gemalde is really strong - I spent 2.5 hours there over two visits and didn't really do it justice. Are all the galleries open for its late hours? I have had problems with that in London museums.

I will have more, but have to run now.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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The good thing about the East Side Gallery is that it isn't dependent on opening hours, so you could go early or late.

I'd also really try to find time for the Reichstag - have heard the line is shorter at night. It's pretty cool.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 03:05 PM
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YK: Thanks for the information about Checkpoint. I suppose it would be a shame not to see it. I think it's part of Charlottenberg that you can only see with a German tour, but as I love seeing as many rooms as possible that seems like a good bet.

Ann: Thanks for your helpful suggestion about the boat to Charlottenberg. I hadn't even considered that! That sounds lovely. The Nikolei area also sounds nice. I will be visiting late April so hopefully it won't be too hot.

Rialto: I did figure that the museums would be large. So many to see and so much to see in them! I think the good thing about the 3 day pass as that I could safely just see parts of museums and feel okay about that. I love paintings, but some other museums like Bode or modern art might be a bit faster.

Noe: Thanks as always for your helpful comments. Vienna was crazy on paper but it was managable in practice. I did cut a bit and enjoyed the cafes, so I expect that Berlin will be a bit of the same (cutting back, I mean).

I picked Gemaldiegalerie for Thursday night because I knew it would take a while. I figure if I got there around 6:30 or so that would give me 3 hours. Otherwise I could pick 1/2 museums on MuseumIsland and re-adjust.

I'll have to think more about Third Reich. I wasn't too excited about what Brewers had to offer there, but I'll look into other tour companies. I think I would most like a Cold War tour, which I've not really found. The free part about Brewers was enticing!

I think Marble Palace might be closed for renovation, based on a cryptic comment on the SPSG website. That would be a shame but I can imagine that with Sansocci and New Palace I may have had my fill already.
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Apr 14th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Joe-I think it looks pretty good, but you need to add some things.

When you're on the Ku'damm-and going to Ka De We- go across the street (there's a huge H & M store just by the Ka which I like a lot, btw) but across the street from the Ka, katty-cornered is a Berliner institution-one of my favorite "Konditoreien" anywhere-Cafe Kranzler. You'll see it, because it has a red and white striped awning up on the second floor-the decor is nothing to look at (unless they've spruced it up since I was last there) but the Eiskaffes! So good! I had both an Eiskaffe and my favorite piece of berry torte, and was perfectly happy, since it always brings back memories for me to go there. You might want to take a break there as well.

A boat trip on the Spree is very nice, I would definitely recommend that. Going up in the transparent dome of the Reichstag is a must, because you can look out over the entire city, plus, you may want to go to their terrace restaurant for lunch, if it's open.

However, as far as museums go, I am very glad to see you have the one museum that to my mind is a not-to-be-missed spot-the so-called "Topographie des Terrors" (Topography of Terror).

This is an outdoor museum, built right up along the remains of the old Gestapo/SS building, which was of course used to torture and kill prisoners. All I will say about this place is that it made an indelible impression on me; I speak German, so I could read the copies of the original SS orders that are tacked onto these lean-tos on the Gestapo building foundations. I was astonished, even though I studied German history at university. I will never forget one memo that I read; it was just like any office memo that we might send today:

Subject: "Transfer of Dutch Jewish children to Utrecht for transfer to Auschwitz." Reading that memo is burned in my memory. The memo talks about dividing up the children in terms of ages, once they get to Utrecht, where they will be put on the train cars to Auschwitz, and how Utrecht would be the central transfer point in Holland for all the Dutch Jewish children that they were bringing in from all over the country. I must have stared at that memo for what seemed like half an hour, I kept looking at it, seeing how it was signed, so ordinary, yet so unspeakably horrific. I've never experienced anything like this place-and I have a long history in Europe. It's all the more real I think, because it is all outside.

And then there's Potsdamer Platz-with all its huge Sony screens, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, very 21st century, designed by the famed Italian architect Renzo Piano, (who also designed Beaubourg in Paris, btw) -there is a great casino, live theater just across the street-it's something to experience at night, and I would not miss it.

And you have nothing planned for the loveliest square in Berlin-the Gendarmenmarkt? The Konzerthaus on this square is the home of the Radio Orchestra of Berlin, and it is lovely-the tickets were so cheap, but very good seats-this square is anchored by both the French and German cathedrals on either end, plus there are outdoor cafes and restaurants where you can take pre or post concert meals or drinks, and people watch. This is my favorite area of Berlin.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

As for San Souci, it opens by 9am-so you can visit then.

Your opera tickets read as follows: third tier, middle right, row 4, seat 4.

Figaro, I would assume, is Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, but it might be some modern interpretation, but if it is the Mozart original, then it will be wonderful.
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Apr 15th, 2007, 01:52 AM
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Thanks for your suggestions. I will definitely visit the Gendarmenmarkt. It looks very nice. The Konzerthaus tickets are a bit expensive though, so I may have to pass on that. The opera is Marriage of Figaro and hopefully I can at least understand a little bit!
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Apr 15th, 2007, 09:07 AM
  #18
 
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If interested in a boat ride, I would recommend the roun trip. More information is available in my trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34880572
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Apr 15th, 2007, 09:21 AM
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It used to be that shops were closed on Sundays... you might want to check that out before you plan to stroll the Ku'Damm on Sunday - not that it isn't always a nice walk... but would be even nicer to be able to go inside some places.

Whatever you trim back on, don't miss the Pergamon Museum.

Cheers!
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Apr 15th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Joe, I went to a really nice cafe near the Gendarmenmarkt that has a great view of the square - called Shan Rahimkhan. It's a nice place to take a break.

RE the Pergamon, it is definitely worth going but the Miletus Gate is under scaffolding right now.

If you like film, and have the time, the Film Museum at the Sony Center is worth checking out.
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