Sightseeing time! Time to look at some of the key locations in central Berlin. Places such as Potsdamer Platz – for years a No Man’s Land bisected by the Berlin Wall, now a thriving centre of crass commercialism with skyscrapers all around. What would Walter Ulbricht have thought?
A short walk away, the imposing Brandenburg Gate still stands as a symbol of Berlin, as well as a magnet for tourists.
My last visit was nearly 18 months ago. Far too long to wait – I was itching to go back. Luckily Brexit hasn’t yet grounded every flight between the UK and Europe, so I was still able to hop on an easyJet plane (no long-distance trains this time, alas).
Fully embracing the gay experience this time, I checked into the wonderful ArtHotel Connection, a small boutique hotel located on Fuggerstraße in the heart of Berlin’s gay district. I was surrounded by gay bars, gay cafés, gay shops and gay people.
I think it’s fair to say that the hotel caters to a certain specific demographic. The paintings on the walls clued me in to this, and any lingering doubt was removed the next morning when I arrived for breakfast and found a man in full leather gear eating at a table in the opposite corner.
I had a nice day in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday with my friends Andrew and David. I was there for a total of 6 hours (with a three hour train journey at the beginning and end of the day) but I squeezed quite a bit in.
We arrived to find the town centre ridiculously busy thanks to the Stratford Food Festival taking place that weekend. Delicious smells of cooking food wafted over us as we made our way along the streets. Not good for someone who is trying to diet.
I had visited before, in 2012, but that time I had only visited the viewing deck. This time, I ventured up to dine at the Sphere Restaurant (advance booking recommended).
I felt a certain amount of smugness as my friend Boris arrived late following flight delays (my train was right on time) but was slightly worried that we would lose our dinner reservation. No worries, as it turns out having a native German speaker with you helps smooth things over, and we were shown to our table 20 minutes late.
As mentioned in my previous post, I stopped off in Cologne for a couple of days en route to Berlin. So was my visit a success, or was it a North-Rhine-WestFailure? If that appalling pun hasn’t put you off, read on to find out…
THE ENGLISH SHOP – after eating at the Hard Rock Café (shut up, I was tired and it was open and convenient), I headed back to the hotel. En route, I passed The English Shop, whose TfL lawyer-baiting logo had a poignant improvised addition: “Britain might have left the EU,” it said, “but we’re still here. So a little part of Britain survives in the EU!”
For someone who was (and still is) grieving the tragedy that is Brexit, this was a bit too much, and I returned to my hotel feeling gloomy.
It’s another travel catch-up, from September 2016!
Back in 2014, I used the (now sadly withdrawn) DB night train from Berlin to Paris, an experience so exquisite that I managed to get a blog postand a YouTube video out of it.
Two years on, September 2016, and I felt Berlin calling to me again. It was time to repeat the experience in the other direction. The sleeper is no more, but there are still plenty of high speed trains zooming across the Continent. It was time to sample some of that action.
European train travel offers a myriad of high speed train options, each with their own fare structure. Sorting out your ICEs from your Thalyses can be a tricky business. Fortunately I was armed with knowledge from the Man in Seat 61, a one-man treasure trove of information about such things. His website should be the first stop for anyone planning a similar voyage.
For travel to Germany, however, booking is quite simple. Just go to DB’s website, Bahn.com, and enter your journey details. The 10.58 Eurostar gives a convenient connection at Brussels, and is also a good departure time for people like me, who need to travel from the provinces.
I remember vaguely promising, at the end of the old blog, that I would continue writing my travel blogs. For various reasons, that didn’t actually happen. So this is another catch up post, from April 2016.
It started, as so many things do, in a Wetherspoons.
September, 2015. I was in the Metropolitan Bar in Baker Street, London, in the company of my friends Mark and Peter. As I scoffed a greasy burger, the conversation turned to holidays. Mark mentioned that they were heading to Gran Canaria in April next year, that it was a fun place to visit, and I should come with them.
I made a vague statement of agreement, then came home and promptly forgot about it, until a few weeks later when I. Next thing I knew, the hotel was booked and I had bought train tickets to Gatwick Airport.