At the start of 2017 CLB and I decided that we wanted to jet off somewhere just the two of us for our first New Years Eve as husband and wife and Berlin quickly became the destination of choice, for a few reasons:
- I’d never been and CLB hadn’t been himself for 15 years
- They pull off incredible NYE activities incl. fireworks, street parties and more
- The Christmas markets last until the end of December and where better to drink Gluhwein and eat Bratwurst
Travel & Accommodation
Thankfully I had enough BA miles to book the flights for 18,000 miles per person plus £35 each which was a pretty good deal considering how much airlines were charging for the New Year period. I then booked our accommodation via hotels.com @ Steigenberger Hotel Am Kanzleramt. As we were well aware prices could be steep for the New Years Eve celebrations we actually made this reservation in March on a cancellable book now pay later rate.
We landed at Tegel airport and took the TXL bus route to Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central Station) where our hotel was located just two minutes away. We found our room, a spacious superior room complete with a full sized wardrobe and shower room, on the third floor overlooking an inner courtyard. We spent our first few hours in the city relaxing and ordering from room service as after our early start we needed it and were headed out at 6pm for a pre-booked tour up the dome at the Reichstag Building.
Once you clear security you pick up the audio guide and start making your way up the dome with commentary every few steps or so. It was great to see the city at night from a height and I’d recommend a visit in the evening. Pre-booking is a must so to book tickets head here.
After this we headed to Tokio Sushi for some dinner before getting a somewhat early night ahead of an early rise to head up the TV Tower.
We decided to walk to the TV Tower which took around 45 minutes but the best way to explore a city is on foot and so this helped us get bearings a little. After seeing the city at night it was a great contrast to see the city during daylight and the views were fantastic. Beat the big queues (2hrs when we were there) and book ahead for sure.
Just around the corner was a great buffet brunch venue, Alex, where we filled our stomachs for further sight seeing, and Christmas Market-ing of course. The Berliner Weihnachtszeit market right next to the tower houses a ferris wheel so of course we had a ride (big kids forever) and a mug of warming gluhwein.
In the afternoon we’d pre-booked on a free walking tour with Sandemans. This was my first experience of a walking tour and this is going to be the start of many for sure. What a great way to get your bearings, learn some history and see the sites. At the end you tip your guide what you think it’s worth. I’d definitely recommend jumping on one wherever available which appears to be in most European cities.
Our route started at the Bradenburg Gate and took us to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the site of Hitler’s bunker, next up we past the former Luftwaffe HQ on route to the Berlin Wall.
We stopped just over half way for a warming cup of hot chocolate before seeing Checkpoint Charlie and Gendarmanmarkt and finishing up at the Book Burning Memorial outside Humboldt University.
That night we dined at the incredible Café Jacques in the Kreuzberg district, we found it in the Lonely Planet Germany Guide and it couldn’t have been a better recommendation. Thankfully we’d noticed the comment about “reservations essential” so the night before had called up and luckily they could squeeze us in. The restaurant is candle lit with bare wood tables and the menu and wine list is a blackboard on the wall (in German but the waiter kindly translated). We started with a sharing meat platter and I opted for a seafood linguine which was divine, coupled with a bottle of red before not being allowed to leave without an on-the-house Lemoncello! The atmosphere was fantastic, the food gorgeous and the service second to none. If you do go though, it is cash only so don’t forget your Euros!
After dinner we headed the other end of the street and found ourselves in the dimly lit Bürkner Eck bar where we saw out the night with more red wine and beer before jumping in a Uber home, which definitely seems more expensive than in the UK, just a heads up.
And just like that we were half way through our trip 🙁 Part 2 available here