It was an extraordinary time in European history. in less than a year by October 3 1990 Germany was fully reunited and the barriers of the GDR removed. The final reminder of a war that had torn Europe and the world asunder disappeared..
Berlin today is an example of what can be achieved when people work together. For years after the reunification the country suffered with high unemployment and dissent. There were those who thought the reunification should have been staged over a number of years.
The city has learned to embrace its past, live with it and use it to its advantage. Most tourists over 30 come to Berlin to see the mysterious city they know from books and films, with spooks around every corner and everyone spying on each other.
There are dozens of ways you can explore and experience the Cold War days, from tours to museums to theatres.
Berlin now 25 years on is a city transformed, it is swish and stylish it still preserves its reputation of counter culture and alternative lifestyles. It is glitzy and gleaming, a true capital of central Europe.
Berlin is also a city that has learned how to market its past very successfully, if you are over 30 that is. Young people go to Berlin for other reasons, which I will get to.
There are museums to just about every aspect of the Wall, the history, the Stasi, everyday life in the East, the Ubahn, even Checkpoint Charlie. As well as the extraordinary Museum Island. The famous Pergamon is partially closed for a major refurbishment which will last five years.
Millions of people pour into the city to explore the history. There is a fascination with the idea that one half could be barricaded from the other. We are all enthralled to hear stories of how people in the East lived. The daily grind of trying to put food on the table, the fear of the Stasi the idea that everyone worked doing something. It was an isolated enclave.
Things I liked about Berlin –
TV Tower- great place to see the city from the East in the revolving restaurant, look like Sputnik
Tour of the city – by bus or boat or bicycle....I did them all.
Cycle tour http://www.fattirebiketours.com of the East was especially interesting, weaving in and around neighbourhoods
Counter Culture – squatting still goes on, clubs rock from night to morn. Berlin is the world’s centre for electronic and techno music. Light touch governance means there’s room for everyone.
I met two young English people living and working in Berlin, one in as a DJ and the other as in tourism. They love the lifestyle in the Berlin and feels the wook/life balance is way better than in the UK.
Graffiti is everywhere – the city is spraycanned to bits
The big squares of Alexander Platz and Potsedamer Platz are looking great, thronged and lively.
Food is cheap and good though the German favourite of Curry Wurst takes getting used to.
Best meal I ate was in Vox Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Hotels are good, lots of new ones and reasonable €60-€100 buys good value
Park Inn at Alexanderplatz or the Hampton by Hilton Berlin City West, very reasonable three star near Kufurstendamm.
Shopping is fantastic – every kind of store from thronged Primark to KaDeVa luxury store.
Templehof Airport is an amazing amenity for the city – The airport closed 5 years ago and the citizens of the city voted to keep the site for all sorts of outdoor entertainment. You can walk, run. Cycle, skate on the old runway. It is the 4th largest building in the world. You can go on a tour of the airport, eat in the restaurant or rent an office, if you need it.
Christmas Markets begin in a few weeks time and there will be about 50 around the city