Day 1: Sunday, September 16

From Paris To Berlin

This trip journal is slightly different in that we start our adventures, not in Toronto, Ontario, but in Berlin, Germany.

In the fall of 2012 we took a two-city trip to Paris and Berlin, spending roughly 8-10 days in each of those locations. Paris was on the agenda first, then Berlin. This journal starts as we leave Paris for Berlin.

Berlin was such a pleasant surprise. We weren’t aware there would be so much to see and do in that amazing city. We long to return to Berlin some day, but for now, here is our 2012 adventure.

Waking Up In Paris

We woke up very early this morning in our Paris hotel – time to move on to Berlin! Vince has been awake since 4:00 a.m.; me shortly thereafter. The clock-radio alarm came screaming to life at 5:45 a.m., which was a good thing – just as I suspected, the hotel concierge failed to provide us with the promised morning wake-up call.

We got up, showered, packed toiletries and went down to the Hotel Monte Carlo lobby to settle the bill for the hotel breakfasts from the past week. Our cab (with an odd, slightly-hyper and annoying young Frenchman) arrived precisely on time at 6:45 a.m. It made for an early morning cab ride through the Paris darkness to Charles de Gaulle Airport. On the outer edges of Paris we saw a lot of nefarious, very creepy people lurking in doorways, alleys and sidestreets in the pre-dawn darkness. I silently prayed that we not have a vehicular breakdown at this point.

Leaving Paris For Berlin

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 1 without incident and checked in for Lufthansa flight LH3243 to Berlin’s Tegel airport. We passed through security with no issues, then waited in the departure area for our flight. We bought some morning refreshments while waiting for the boarding call – one last, strong Parisian coffee for Vince; black tea and croissant for me. Our flight was called, so we boarded and lifted off Paris soil right on time at 9:20 a.m. Au revoir, Paris!

It was a very pleasant, smooth flight on Lufthansa – wonderful, friendly service (our young German male flight attendant was a hoot). Great snacks were provided and the seating was extremely comfortable with lots of leg room. A pleasant experience in all – clearly Lufthansa is the way to go.

Berlin, Germany – September 16-23, 2012

We arrived at Berlin Tegel airport ten minutes ahead of schedule, about 10:40 a.m. We deplaned right on to the tarmac and boarded a waiting shuttle bus which took us to the terminal. We found the luggage carousel and retrieved our baggage.

With luggage in hand we located the BVG counter (BVG is the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, the main transport company of Berlin). There, we bought our Berlin Welcome cards (we opted for the five-day transit pass with museum pass option).

We located the stop for the TXL 109 airport bus which would take us to Berlin’s U-Bahn; within minutes the bus arrived. We boarded and, after not much more than a ten minute ride, got off at the Jakob-Kaiser-Platz stop. From there we took U-Bahn (U7) line down to Bayreischer Platz and changed on to the U4 line, getting off at Viktoria-Luise-Platz (lovely square at this stop). We paused in the square to rest a while before finding the hotel, and to let the last of the Paris tension drain from our bodies and minds.

With the aid of our trusty map we made our way up the beautiful tree-lined Welserstrasse until we came to Geisbergstrasse, where we made a left. Once we passed Ansbacher Strasse we knew we were on the right track for the Arco Hotel as we recognized the area from a Google street view we had done earlier.

Not far past Ansbacher Strasse we came upon the lovely Arco Hotel at Geisbergstrasse 30 – what a pleasant and welcoming site it was!:

Ahhhhh, Schöneberg – what a lovely neighbourhood!! So peaceful and hushed; it also didn’t hurt that it was a typical Sunday in Germany (no stores open today, most things closed):

Quiet day in Schöneberg

We checked in to the Arco (very helpful staff there) and found that we’d received a HUGE double room on the fourth (and top) floor of the hotel – Room #45. It was large enough to be called a small suite; it had a separate sitting area with a foldout couch, chairs and coffee table. Towering ceilings, easily 20 feet high. Lovely renovated bathroom as well. VERY pleased!

(If you’d like to read my TripAdvisor review of the Arco Hotel in Berlin, click here).

We rested a while then unpacked. To orient ourselves in our new environment, we then took a long walk around the neighbourhood – it’s very different from Paris here! We walked a wide city square, moving west across Geisbergstrasse to Spichernstrasse, then up to Lietzenburger Strasse until we came to Martin-Luther-Strasse. Walking north, we hit the Kleiststrasse and followed it across to Nollendorfplatz. From there we walked south down Maassenstrasse to Hohenstaufenstrasse, then back west returning to Viktoria-Luise-Platz (in case you’re wondering, I had to write these names down as we went along; there’s no way I could remember and spell these street names after the fact!).

We stopped at one of the restaurants lining Viktoria-Luise-Platz and had a long, awesome lunch at Restaurant Potemkin. It was about 3:00 p.m. at this point. We lingered for a long time and, with very full bellies, finally left at about 4:45 (I had ordered a dish called “Freedom”, which, when arrived, was two enormous mounds of ground beef with a massive fried egg on top of each mound, accompanied by a sea of fries, salad and gravy). We left absolutely stuffed, concluding that Germans love their huge portions and really know how to eat!

We returned to the Arco Hotel to rest. We read, relaxed and planned the next day’s activities until about 8:30 p.m. We had a very early night as it had been an extremely long day!

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