We have just returned from a five night break in Berlin, in some ways the most mysterious of European capital cities. It is a city where the traditional rubs shoulders with the avant guard, where art is king and above all it is a city that has to live with its past.
This is our second visit to Berlin. The first with our then 12 year old son was around 10 years ago. On that occasion we scurried around making sure we ticked off all the major sites: the Reichstag, the Jewish Museum, Checkpoint Charlie, the Pergamon Museum etc. This trip was to be less frenetic with time for art galleries, a trip out to Potsdam, and other attractions. with a main focus on the galleries. This however was not exactly what Berlin had in store for us.
The visit started according to plan. We had to get up incredibly early to catch our 6.30 flight from Gatwick, so after checking into our hotel we set off to have lunch in the food hall at the biggest and possibly the best department store in Europe, KaDeWe, which was just a short walk from our hotel.
Lunch at the grill counter was delicious and we felt up for a tiny bit of sightseeing despite our early start, so we visited the nearby Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachniskirche. Destroyed by British bombers in 1943 this crumbling ruin serves as a reminder of the destruction caused by war. Presumably it had gone one crumble too far as the scaffolding was up and we were unable to visit the remains of the nave as we had done previously.
The new modern chapel with its stunning blue stained glass was open to the public however.
The floor was impressive too
When we came out of the church it was raining and we were feeling pretty whacked so we decided to go back to the hotel. Once there, that was it, and, unusually for us, we didn't even venture out for dinner!