When travelling, one of the most exciting things we can do is to see the city we are visiting from the heights. Well, Berlin is not exception, there are several options to get amazed from above. The most obvious one would be TV Tower in the former Soviet Sector, but we will choose a much more authentic spot.
We are talking about the possibility of seeing the city from 150 metres height, FROM A BALLON!! It is an option not suitable for people with heart conditions. During this activity you may have to test your fear to heights, but it will be richly rewarded by the views from above.
The attraction is one of the world´s biggest helium balloons and from its basket you can see the whole of Germany´s vast capital city, with sights such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Sony Center.
If you are a fearless person and do not suffer from vertigo, cheer up. Sit down comfortably on the platform, prepare your camera and enjoy the lift which will end at a height of 150 metres. The balloon cannot go beyond that altitude because it is attached to a powerful steel cable.
The image of the balloon in the city sky has become a Berlin symbol. You can also take advantage of your visit to the area to see another important place of interest, Checkpoint Charlie, the famous border crossing between East and West Berlin where daytime visas could be obtained.
The balloon attraction is managed by the Air Service Berlin company and is open all year round. It would be ideal to have clear skies to better enjoy the views.
There are lifts every 15 minutes, and it is open every day from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm (between April and October) and from 11:00 am – 06:00 pm (between November and March). Rates range from 12 euros for children from 3 to 12 years old, to 25 euros per adult. There are also other intermediate rates, depending on the time booked or if you buy last minute tickets.
The best way to get there is by subway, it is possible to choose between two different stops: Mohrenstraße (line U2) and Kochstraße (line U6).
You can´t say you´ve been to Berlin if you leave without trying a gastronomic icon such as this sausage, well accompanied by a sauce similar to ketchup and a good pinch of curry. It´s a very tasty and famous snack. Is very simple in terms of preparation, but also quite appealing. It even has its own museum very close to Potsdamer Platz, which has been receiving enthusiasts of this delicious sausage since 2009.
The popular dish, which means "curry sausage", consists of a cooked pork sausage, which is fried and sliced. It is served on a small cardboard tray and is usually accompanied by a bread bun, and sometimes by chips. Although this is not the healthiest part of German cuisine, it has become a must for every traveller who passes through Berlin. It is very easy to find and costs around 3 to 4 euros.
At first, we may think that the sauce which accompanies the dish is ketchup. Even the taste reminds us of it, but it is an original sauce that has its own history. The sauce is a mid XX century invention created by Herta Heuwer in Berlin and its name is Chillup. In 2019, this veteran sauce celebrated its 70th birthday.
The legendary origin of the sauce tells that, on September 4th 1949, Herta created the sauce in the food stall she ran in Frederick Street in Charlottenburg district. It was a post-war and famine period, so facing the lack of customers, she experimented with tomato sauce, adding various exotic spices such as pepper and curry powders, which probably an English soldier had given her. The result had nothing to do with the sauce used until then. It quickly became popular throughout the city and imitators began to appear. In the following years, Herta patented the sauce under the name of Chillupand took her secret to the grave. German society recognised her for this tasty invention, placing a commemorative plaque in the place where she had her sausage stand.
If you would like to take a picture at the place where it was invented, you can find the plaque on the lively Stuttgarter Platz, more precisely on Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße 57, which is a short walk from the popular zoo area.
In short, it won´t be difficult to find a place to try this snack.
A handbag, fashionable slippers, an umbrella for the storm, a souvenir of the Ampelmann, a currywurst, local beers... all of this and much more can be found in the Ku´damm, a large commercial artery of Berlin. It is kilometric and can be divided into zones. Closer to the centre, we find the most popular and well-known shops worldwide. However, as we move away, exclusive boutiques and major fashion brands start to appear.
What today is the leisure place for Berliners and tourists, was formerly a path used by princes and kings to go to their Grunewald hunting lodge. It was not until well into the XIX century (1875) that this path was given the title of street.
This shopping paradise extends along the main avenue, which runs for about 3 kilometres! But you don´t have to walk all the way down the street to find what you´re looking for because the shops are all in the first and a half kilometre approximately. The Europamundo´s schedule will allow you to have a little free time in Berlin to dive into this shopping heaven if that is what you would like.
If you choose to take a walk on the Ku´damm, don´t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the big department stores par excellence. We are talking about the historic and centenary KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westensor Western Department Store), which are something like the German Harrod´s.
They have more than 60,000 m2 to get lost and enjoy a wide range of products. Don´t forget to stop by the fabulous gourmet place. For sure you will find a culinary delight of your interest in its 7,000 m²! It is a real delight for the senses! Despite having been inaugurated in 1907, its appearance is very modern, as it was rebuilt after the bombings of World War II.
Has the figure of a man wearing a hat caught your attention? His name is Ampelmannand he is another of Berlin´s most recognisable symbols. It appears in several places and you shouldn´t miss the opportunity to get a souvenir of this friendly little man seen at the traffic lights! Caps, T-shirts, pins, magnets, bags... There is no one who can resist.
The man has a curious history, as it was the figure used at the traffic lights of the former German Democratic Republic. Over the years, it turn very popular, becoming a symbol for the whole of Germany after reunification. It is a nice fraternity symbol which has evolved since its creation in 1961. In 2004, the female version was created.
MY PICTURE WITH A BUDDY BEAR
Who doesn´t want a photo with another great symbol of Berlin? This icon is more recent but has quickly become very popular. We are talking about the United Buddy Bears, which are spread all over the city. They are very easy to find, as they are painted in bright colours that attract our attention. If Wroclaw has its little elves and Madrid has its Velázquez Meninas, Berlin has its bears scattered throughout its streets.
There are several theories about why Berlin is so closely related to the bear. Some suggest that it was the animal that inhabited the swamp area where the first Berliners settled. Others refer to the very name of the word “bear” in German, bär. And of course, there are many other stories which are linked to the nobility.
In any case, the bear is omnipresent in the city of Berlin, starting with its own flag, where a silhouette of the animal appears.
The conception of the colourful bears dates back to 2001, when they were created by the entrepreneurs Eva and Klaus Herlitz, together with the Austrian sculptor, Roman Strobl. 300 animals were painted in the same year thanks to the collaboration of various artists who created unique and original designs.
Since then, they have become very popular and have been exhibited in more than 30 countries. Maybe you have already seen them outside of Germany. They have been in Buenos Aires in 2009 and have also adorned the streets of Guatemala, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba...
The bear, with its front paws raised, promotes a message of peace and tolerance between peoples and religions. T
o avoid having to track the city inch by inch, we can locate the place of these very nice friends on their official website;
We hope you take a great photo!!
PLACE OF 9 NOVEMBER 1989
The Wall, where is the Berlin Wall? This is the most common question for people who come to the German capital and the one that they ask us the most. The Wall? yes, we will see it during our walks around the city. There are several sections and pieces of the Wall in different parts of the city. These concrete blocks remind us of the time of a divided Germany.
But... would you like to be at the exact point where the beginning of the end began? That border crossing that opened its doors and let the first onlookers through the wall? Do yo want to take pictures in that place which is so significant for history? To satisfy all these requests, you would have to go to the Place of 9 November 1989.
The Wall fell. It was the historic night of the 9th of November, 1989. That night put an end to 28 years of a divided city.
In 2010 this new square was inaugurated. It houses an open-air exhibition, with photographs and some details of its history.
The square is located in the north of the city. The best way to get there is to go to the S-Bahn station on Bornholmer Strasse. Several lines pass through here; S1, S2, S8, S25 and S26.
STAGE THE MOST FAMOUS KISS IN GERMANY
Another of Berlin´s best-known images is that of its painted Wall. This part of the Wall is known as the East Side Gallery and of course, can be visited.
It is open to the public and you can walk along the 1316 metres of Wall that stood in this part of the city, on the banks of the river Spree. Among the 103 murals, there is one that represents the famous kiss between two men, the "socialist brotherly kiss".
A kiss that for sure makes us ask some questions. Who are the main characters? Was it real? Are we talking of a love story?
Yes, history tells us that the kiss was real. In fact, among the representatives of thesocialist governments of the time, it was a common custom, an accepted tradition and a way of showing socialist brotherhood. This custom left this image for posterity.
The characters were the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev and DDR President, Erich Honecker. The notorious scene took place during the celebrations of the DDR´s 30th anniversary in 1979. It was a historic event that the Russian artist, Dimitri Vrubel, was able to capture on a piece of wall.
And now, would you dare to have your own version of the iconic kiss? It´s a very funny picture and I´m sure you have the option to represent it with your travel companion, son, friend, mother... You don´t have to represent that exact kiss, you can give it your own touch!
I´m sure the photo you´ll take is one you would want to print out and frame to have at home!The East Side Gallery is very easy to reach. It is located in Mühlenstraße.
You can get there by subway and S-Bahn.Subway: Warschauer Straße, line U1. Train: Ostbahnhof, lines S3, S5, S7, S9 and S75.
RESTAURANT OF TV TOWER
One of the most curious details of this fabulous symbol of Berlin is the restaurant located in its dome.
What will surprise you is the very high TV tower, which is 365 metres high, a number well thought out so that nobody forgets its size. It has as many metres as there are days in a year. This similarity is very useful for students who have to learn its main characteristics.
We are sure that during your visit with Europamundo, we will get to know this and other details of the steel and concrete giant. But it is possible that this very curious fact is not mentioned: the food served in its restaurant is cooked 200 meters below! At the base!
How is it possible that the main kitchen is at the base of the tower? And why is it? The answer is it is located there for safety reasons. The fire protection plan in Germany is very strict.
But how does the food reach the top? Easy, the dishes go up by the same lifts as the visitors and diners of the restaurant. This is why good logistics are necessary.
Before getting to the diners, the dishes are given a final touch in the 11 m2 satellite kitchen, which is next to the restaurant. Here it is forbidden to prepare fried foods.
If you choose to enjoy a meal in the heights of the 360º rotating restaurant in the TV tower, remember not to get impatient as your meal will have to travel on a 200 metre lift.
For extra peace of mind, the building also includes other safety measures such as evacuation platforms and a strict prohibition on smoking throughout the premises.
It is fantastic option if you are celebrating an anniversary in the German capital. Check for availability on their website:
THE ICONIC COMMUNIST BERLIN
You have probably heard about the division of Germany and its capital. Many people come to Berlin to immerse themselves in the history and scenery of communism. There are even people who miss its Soviet past, this phenomenon is known as Ostalgieor "eastern nostalgia".
Whether we are nostalgic or not... Wouldn´t it be interesting to get to know the main locations of East Berlin? There are many places to visit, such as the preserved parts of the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Stasi museum, the small Trabi museum... places which are far from each other. Europamundo proposes a walk through some sites of this historical Berlin which are close by. Would you like to go for a walk?
We will start from the very heart of East Berlin. On Alexanderplatz we meet the Red City Hall. This Renaissance building, built in 1860 in red brick, housed the East Berlin Rathhaus. Today, it is still the Town Hall for the entire capital. It may seem it was named after its communist past but, in fact, its title comes from the colour of its bricks.
A few steps away, leaving the magnificent Neptune Fountain behind, we arrive at the Marx-Engels Forum,a garden where we find the sculptures of those two fathers of communism. It was inaugurated in 1986, after the fall of the Wall and raised some controversy, it was even considered removing it. Nowadays, it is a good place to take a selfie!
From here, we can enjoy the charming views of the river Spree and the DDR Museumlocated on its bank. The museum show us an apartment and how was the lifestyle in the former German Democratic Republic. There we will find original objects and furniture from this time. It is very curious to see the various gadgets that were used to spy on the neighbours as well as others that were used to find out if they were being spied on. Can you imagine?
Returning to Alexanderplatz, we come across St. Mary´s Church, the oldest one in the city. It dates back to 1260, and has survived the bombings of the War and the reigning atheism of the East.
After that we will continue our way to the former meeting point of the Socialist Youth, the fantastic World clock, which, to this day, is still an undisputed gathering place for Berliners. A few metres from here we could come across the famous House of the teachers or Haus des Lehrers.It is a white building that stands out because of the huge frieze on its main façade. It tries to show the prosperity of the communist system.
As culmination... right here we can find the former great avenue of communism: theKarl-Marx-Allee, opens up on our right. It is similar to the Avenue des Champs-Élyséein Paris and was the main avenue of the city where countless celebrations and parades took place. There are a universe of large grey blocks of buildings, where the main officials of the socialist regime lived. Stunning examples of Soviet architecture spread out along the immense avenue, which is almost a hundred metres wide and two kilometres long.
Don´t forget to take a photo of the classic Kino Internationalfilm theatre, located at number 33 of this same avenue.
Enjoy your stroll!
You may have noticed that Berlin is a largely rebuilt city, with a pretty modern look. However, there are still corners that remind us of what the city was like before the disasters of the war. One of this sites is located in the heart of the historical centre, next to Alexanderplatz. We are talking about Nicholas´ Quarter.
The place is what remains of medieval Berlin, which was also reconstructed. It is a haven of peace made up of a handful of little streets that lead to the banks of the river Spree. Its small squares are the ideal place to disconnect and have a drink in its terraces. A good number of typical restaurants are concentrated in its streets, those are the ideal place to taste some of its specialities.
An ideal site for this is the one at the end of Propststraße, beside the river. Right next to it is the oldest religious temple in Berlin. St. Nicholas Church, which construction begun in 1230. It is the building that crowns the entire neighbourhood, thanks to its characteristic twin bell towers.
There you´ll find a small square with bars and restaurants where we recommend to try some local beer on sunny days, or a nice hot cup of tea on cold ones.
You shouldn´t forget to take a picture with the imposing statue representing St. George fighting the dragon. It is the most representative picture of this haven of peace.
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