Thursday, 13 December 2018

A festive weekend in Berlin


In December 2017 I went to my first Christmas Market abroad and I was blown away by the festive attention to detail. After we left Munich, I remember saying to Stuart that I’d like this to be our yearly tradition now and here we are a year later, feeling very Christmassy after a weekend at the Berlin Christmas Markets.


Flying to Berlin from London Stansted Airport on the 30th November 2018

Friday

We flew to Berlin on Friday 30th November and arrived at our hotel (Hotel Gat Checkpoint Charlie) in the late afternoon. The hotel was literally 2 minutes walk from the famous German landmark and Friedrichstraße: one of the most well-known roads in Berlin. We  dropped our bags in the room and headed straight out to the Reichstag, where we had a reservation for the Dome in the early evening. On route to the Reichstag we spotted our first Christmas Market of the trip: the Friedrichstraße Christmas Market. It was a little market right outside the vast Berlin train station and it was attracting crowds of people for bratwurst, spiced fries and cookies. We purchased some of the fries as a quick snack before continuing onto the Reichstag for our reservation.


Nativity Scene at Friedrichstraße Station Christmas Market, Berlin


It was pouring with rain and very dark when we took the lift up to the Reichstag so the views weren’t fantastic, but it was still great to go up the top of the historical German building. We could see the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market from the dome which was pretty exciting as that’s where we were headed for the evening.


Rain on the windows of the Reichstag Dome, Berlin


By the time we reached Potsdamer Platz the rain was tipping it down, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. There was a fantastic stall selling bread and pastry snacks, so I picked up a pretzel from there for dinner. The lady even heated the pretzel up for me, making it the perfect snack for a cold and wet evening. Stuart purchased his first Bratwurst of the trip at this particular market and with our tummies full, we continued on down the road to the best section of the market - the craft stalls! There was a stall dedicated to wooden Christmas decorations and I picked up a little star decoration featuring the Brandenburg Gate, which is now placed on our Christmas tree. When we couldn’t take the rain anymore, we sheltered in a shopping arcade for a little while, before heading back to the hotel to dry off and get an early night.


Cookies at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market in Berlin

Saturday

The following day was dedicated to museums and more markets. We had breakfast at a bakery near Checkpoint Charlie and then headed to the Topography of Terror Museum for opening. Reading all of the horrific stories from wartime made me incredibly sad so we didn’t stay too long, but it was an important museum to visit whilst we were in Berlin.


Outside the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin


The museum was walking distance from Potsdamer Platz, so we headed there afterwards to see this market again during the day. It was a lot nicer walking around the market without the heavy rain! Once we’d seen it all again, we set off on foot for the Museum Island, via the spectacular Brandenburg Gate.

It was about 1pm when we reached the city’s Museum quarter so we stopped for some lunch at Alexanderplatz before continuing our history tour of Berlin. Neither of us had been to the DDR Museum and after seeing it featured on Channel 4’s Travel Man, we knew we had to visit. The museum was fascinating as you were able to walk inside a recreated East German flat and see what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. The interactive elements of the exhibition made it one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. If you’re in Berlin anytime soon, make sure you visit!


Outside the DDR Museum in Berlin


During the late afternoon we headed to Alexanderplatz Christmas Market, where I got to have a Wintery hot chocolate in a souvenir glass. Alexanderplatz was so busy and much bigger than the other markets that we’d visited, but the atmosphere was incredible!


Hot Chocolate at the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market in Berlin


Our last stop of the day was the Gendarmenmarkt: aka the postcard-worthy Christmas Market. It was about 20 minutes walk from Alexanderplatz and on the way back to our hotel, so we’d planned our walking route for the day well. We joined a queue at the Gendarmenmarkt but we were quickly able to get inside and soak up the festive atmosphere. There were carol singers and dancers performing on a stage, as well as food, drink and gift stalls. I enjoyed walking through all of the gift tents and drinking a non-alcoholic festive fruit punch.


Drinking a non-alcoholic festive fruit punch at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin


After spending an hour or so at the market, we headed back to Checkpoint Charlie. Visiting the Christmas Market at the Gendarmenmarkt was such a perfect way to end the day!


Christmas lights near Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Sunday

On Sunday morning it was time to fly home and it was quite a struggle finding space for our Christmas Market souvenirs in the hand luggage case. Nonetheless we made room and we left for the airport with lots of festive goodies to take home!

What a wonderful Christmassy weekend in Berlin. The city really is a dream during December.



Have you ever been to Berlin? What did you get up to?


Thanks for reading my blog today.


Love
Kat
xxxx


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