We have tickets for next year’s Wonderland tour, the last tour we saw Take That six times (five in Birmingham) and the sixth concert was in Berlin. I always think that adding an event to a city break makes it that little bit more.
We booked our concert tickets and one night’s hotel stay with Event Travel and the extra nights and flight ourselves. We flew from Birmingham to Tegel with Flybe and getting from the airport to our hotel the NHow Berlin, took around 1 hour, taking the airport shuttle bus to Hauptbahnhof station then the S Bahn train to Warschauer station. Warschauer Str was only a 5-10 minute walk from the hotel, and it didn’t feel like a trek even when it was raining, windy and dark – no need for a taxi or bus. We brought a Welcome Card from the airport’s tourist centre (28€ for 72 hours) and we only used it for the transport but didn’t have time to use it for money off tourist attractions.
I can describe the Nhow hotel in 3 words – modern, music and pink or make it 4 words – VERY PINK! The staff was helpful and the buffet breakfast was worth paying the extra for, lots of choice, my breakfasts consisted of a few small cups of tea (no mugs), fruit juice and meat balls and baked beans. The bar/reception area seemed to double up as a concert venue with a stage and electric guitars you could borrow and take to your room, it was a good setting for our pre-concert drinks (a small beer 4.50€). Then there is the lifts, 5 different themed and brightly coloured lifts. A bit of advice, if you’re feel ill or have a hangover don’t go in ‘Rock Music’ lift, it didn’t play rock music but it’s bright yucky orange made me feel sick. Our room 201 was overlooking the busy main road but we couldn’t hear the traffic, only faint emergency services sirens now and again. It was a standard twin room, clean, pink, spacious, pink and mirrors everywhere, even the TV was inside a mirror…and did I mention it was pink!
We were closer to Alexanderplatz than the centre of Berlin, so our first night we had a wander around the centre of ‘Alex’, there are a lot of shops but they were mainly the same chains as back in England even got a Primark. Dinner was in the Carambar restaurant, it was a cheap two meals (pizza and chilli con carne) and 2 small beers for only 22€. A nice meal nothing exciting it just filled a hole. We went up the TV Tower the Fernsehturm but didn’t use our Welcome Card discount it was quicker to use the ticket machine. It was 13€ for a view of Berlin on a grey day then straight back down – not impressed. We finished of our night with another beer, working in Birmingham city centre the one thing I hate at Christmas is the Frankfurt Christmas Market (overpriced food and drink, the same tat every year, and lots of drunks), I try to avoid but this time I had my beer in a real German market, quieter, nicer people, and half the price.
Next day was concert day, we didn’t want to do too much because we didn’t want to be tired for the actual reason we came to Berlin – Take That. A bit of breakfast and lots of tea then back on the S Bain to the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag Building, following in Take That’s footsteps. We found Checkpoint Charlie before it rained and then ran to the nearest shopping mall in Potsdamer Platz which was LP20 (just like the Bullring maybe a tiny bit cheaper due to the current exchange rate). Nothing different but time not wasted, ticked another McDonalds off my Big Mac bucket List.
On the way back to the hotel, we got off a stop earlier at Ostbahnhof and walked back to the hotel past the East Side Gallery, a long strip of Berlin wall taken over by art and crap graffiti. It starts at the Ostbahnhof station and ends at the Oberbaum Bridge which is a few minutes away from our hotel. The NHow hotel is an excellent location for concert venues, the Mercedes Arena was in walking distance, and the Take That concert was at the Velodrom which was around 20 minutes trip on the S Bahn to Landsberger with only one line change at Ostkreuz.
The Velodrom was the smallest venue we have seen Take That (around 7,000 capacity) and there wasn’t much food choice there like concert venues in the UK. And by the way the boys were amazing as always!
The day after the night before was a lazy day we headed over to Hard Rock Café, not far from the zoo. We found the café around 11am and wasn’t hungry so we walked down the main road, Kurfürstendamm. Coming out of Hard Rock Cafe to your left we walked past all the designer shops day dreaming of the day when we win the lottery and to the right of Hard Rock were the shops within our price range (Mango, Pull and Bear, H &M etc). We did include a visit to a ‘museum’, well it wasn’t a museum but a record shop, you know a place where you flick through the vinyl albums and posters. Those were the days…I’m so old!
After lunch in Hard Rock we headed back to the Brandenburg Gate, our plan was to hang around until it was dark to see the Gate lit up. Negative point to this idea was it took ages to go dark and after a few days of being walking tourists we were so tired. We did get to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial) and the Boulevard der ’Stars’ in Potsdamer Platz. They are stars if you are German and just a pavement if you’re not. I only knew of Diane Kruger, Marlene Dietrich and my favourite Christoph Waltz. The positive point to hanging around waiting for the sun to go down – this particular week was the Festival of Lights.
With regards to my TV travel list Berlin has been in a few Crossing Lines episodes and I’m watching the 5th series of Homeland for the sole reason its set in Berlin, it isn’t as good since Brody died. Then there are the film the Man from U.N.C.L.E and Bridge of Spies however I think most of ‘Berlin’ was a film studio.