I arrived at Gatwick Airport at 5:20am on a gloomy Saturday morning feeling sleepy and not entirely sure why I’d agreed to take on a one day trip to Berlin. It was my first time visiting the much hyped German capital and I felt pretty confident that 12 hours wasn’t going to be enough time to fall in love with a brand new city. Turns out I was wrong!
Berlin is an amazing place. Steeped in the history of WWII and largely defined by the post-war East/West divide that lasted until 1989, it has emerged as a cultural and urban cosmopolis, with young people all over the world flocking to the city for its nightlife and artistic values.
Our first destination was the Panoramapunkt building, where we rode the fastest elevator in Europe up to the 24th floor to check out the incredible 360° view of the city. It was the perfect place to get our Berlin bearings and take in sights such as the famous Fernsehturm (Berlin TV Tower), the art deco House of World Cultures and the space known as Museum Island, which houses five of the city’s world renowned museums.
After a quick lunch, we took a Segway tour of the city. Full disclosure – I may be the only person in the world who just cannot ride a Segway.
Cue me ‘driving’ – while screaming – uncontrollably backwards in a very public place, taking out several sandwich boards and running over my own foot in the process. To my eternal shame no-one else in my group had any problem mastering their machines and once the pissed off sandwich board owners had been appeased, we were off.
Despite my shaky legs, the Segway tour was a great way to see the city. We visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate all in a matter of hours.
We ditched the Segways for more conventional bicycles and leisurely pedalled round the East Side of the city, admiring the Soviet architecture and learning more about its history. We finished our ride at the famous East Side Gallery; a 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall that now stands as an international memorial to freedom. It was amazing to walk along the wall and view the incredible gallery that consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 to document the changings times and sense of hope after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Finally we hit the hipster borough of Kreuzberg – essentially East London on steroids – where we embarked on a Street Art Graffiti tour. Ice cold beer in hand, our guide showed us some awesome art including work by infamous street artist Blu Blu and the collective Graffiti Rock Jam.
Our whirlwind trip was the perfect introduction to such a buzzing city and Berlin more than lived up to its hype. And as we reluctantly made our way back to the airport, after a speedy dinner at a traditional beer hall restaurant, one thing was clear. Berlin, I will be back!
Lizzy Spenceley was a guest of getyourguide.com where you can find alternative things to do all over the world.
Tours of Berlin start from £12.10 for the Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Tour and Workshop.
Potsdamer Platz © visitBerlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien
Fernsehturm | TV Tower © visitBerlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien
East Side Gallery: Thierry Noir © visitBerlin, Foto: Tanja Koch