A-Z of My Favourite Holiday Destinations: Berlin

Outside the Bundestag (German Parliament) in Berlin – November 2015

I’ve only been to Berlin once – 5 years ago in November – but as I was originally planning to spend a few days in Berlin in June (before the Coronavirus hit) it seemed appropriate to make it the second destination in my A to Z.

Apart from Greece, another favourite country of mine to go on holiday in is Germany. Soon after starting full time work in December 2014 I came up with a plan to visit every single state in Germany.

I’ve not yet achieved that (I’ve yet to go to Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Bremen and Saarland – I’ve driven through Saxony-Anhalt, Bremen and Saarland – but that doesn’t count) – I have otherwise been to 11 of Germany’s states over the last 5 years.

It was November when I went to Berlin, for just a short (3-night) weekend break. I stayed in the IBIS hotel a short walk away from Potsdamer Platz.

Berlin’s main sights include the Brandenburg Gate, right in the heart of the city, the TV Tower close to Alexanderplatz, there’s the German Parliament – the Bundestag; and many museums about the former East Germany: There’s the DDR Museum and the Stasi Museum. You can’t forget Checkpoint Charlie either – and I really enjoyed a trip to the theatre to watch a musical of songs by the German singer Udo Lindenburg – the play was set in the old East Berlin.

My highlight of the trip though was driving a Trabant – the car which every East German drove. The Trabant has a bit of a cult status these days, but they were truly awful cars. There’s that wll known German joke about “Why does a Trabant have a heated rear windscreen? – To keep your hands warm when you get out and push”. Demand for a Trabant (also known as a Trabi) meant that there was a waiting list of more than 10 years to get one!

These days you can do tours of Berlin in your very own Trabant. Travelling in convoy, listening to commentary from the driver in the lead car, you drive the streets of Berlin to see all the sights of the city.

I did just a 1-hour tour but would love to go back and do a longer tour in the future.

My experience driving a Trabant in Berlin was the first time I had ever driven abroad. At the time of this trip my own car in the UK was that 1992 J reg VW Golf which I loved so much (I sort of miss it) – but I had yet to discover the delights of driving my own car abroad at this stage (that came in September 2016 when I took my current car abroad – to Belgium – for the first time).

The Trabant was surprisingly comfortable to sit in!

As soon as this lockdown is over and travel restrictions finish, I am going straight back to Germany and will almost certainly be going to Berlin. Looking forward to driving another Trabant – one day!

FH.

Fred Hart

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