On a recent business trip to Berlin (which was also my first time in Germany in 10 years), I was not expecting to have any free time, but sometimes the travel Gods are with me – and all of a sudden, I found myself with 24 hours to enjoy in Berlin. And boy, was it a good day!
I woke up late – I had the amazing spa suite at the Westin Grand Berlin. So incredible, I didn’t want to leave – so I slept until double digits. This hotel was so amazing, I am doing a special review on it very soon. I shall leave you with a picture as a tease..
As I hadn’t planned to be able to see the city, I actually wasn’t quite sure where to start – I wanted to see a little bit, but not everything (Mr. O would never forgive me). So I did what every tourist does, and hopped on a sightseeing tour bus. And what did I see? You tell me!
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin (or even Germany’s) most iconic landmarks. And even on a grey day, it was a sight for sore eyes, as was the Victory Column, not far away.
But what excited me the most (bearing in mind it was my very first visit to Berlin), was the possibility to see what was left of the Berlin Wall. And I even managed to get a good photo of it from the bus.
After an hour or so (and also due to the fact that I didn’t want to see everything on my own), I decided it was time to end the tour at Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s better known squares, in the Mitte district. This where the Sofitel, where I stayed the previous night was located, and a stone’s throw from Friedrichstraße, one of the best shopping streets in town.
I loved the selection of shops – from well-known international brands, to German’s own, with an interesting sprinkle of shopping galleries and little malls. But what surprised me the most? To see one of France’s most iconic department stores, right there!
The Galleries Lafayette, which were über modern, were incredible. My favourite floor? The basement! It had a great selection of food not only to buy, but to eat right there. Crepes, salads, French classics, fish, anything you’d want – there were I think 5 different “restaurants” as well as many other mouth-watering areas where you could just shop normally. I was hungry, so decided that half a dozen of oysters and a glass of Chablis was just what the doctor ordered!
On a full stomach, I carried on Friedrichstraße until it merged with Unter den Linden, a nice boulevard. And I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find Nivea Haus.
You know good old Nivea? Well, for starters, it is a German brand, which I *kind* of knew, but didn’t really, if you see what I mean. I didn’t expect to see a whole shop selling every product you can think of – but absolutely loved it! They also had a section with the brand progression and old posters and was really nice to see this brand’s history being preserved.
What I wasn’t expecting was a spa. Under the brand’s promise, which is about good quality products at affordable prices, I was shocked to see what was a state of the art spa facility (seriously!). I couldn’t say no to a full body scrub, a massage and a pedicure at a bargain €100. The quality of the therapist was also outstanding and if you are in town (or in Hamburg), I would seriously recommend a visit.
And this is where I spent my afternoon, and was in no rush to leave! But it was time for cocktails, and I loved that the Westin Berlin has weekly specials – and on that week, it was as if it was made just for me.
For dinner, I met some friends at nearby Augustiner, a local institution – and indulged in all the German classics, which were quite good. I was gutted that we were ready for apfelstrudel just as the kitchen closed, so I never got to try it in Berlin (nor did I find the Berliner balls).
So I had to drown my sorrows as the locals do..
I am obviously joking – as I don’t drink beer. But I can tell you that the mug weighed 2 kgs. or more.. it was almost hard to hold it!
The next day, it was time to leave Berlin, but with a firm resolution to go back and explore the city properly!