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It’s over twenty years since the wall came down and the city of Berlin has grown back together with a spirit and joy that is infectious to all visitors and an example of how to create a great visitor experience for all.

So much has happened here that most random places you stop at have an interesting story to tell and Mitte, literally “middle” in German, is a fantastic area with layers of history and cool to explore. Although a relatively newly formed area (created in Berlin’s 2001 administrative reform), this has always been the centre of Berlin and before the war this was a predominately Jewish middle class area with some of the best department stores in Berlin. After the wall went up in 1961, the area was part of East Berlin and over three decades became very run down and neglected, but the last ten years has seen Mitte restored to it’s former beauty and glory.

 

Bang slap in the middle of Mitte, on Weinmeister Strasse, is one of the best design hotels to open in Berlin for years. And in a city like Berlin where tourism is a major industry with constant new players entering the market, that’s saying something! The perfect mix of cool while still warm and friendly, edgy yet with an air of luxury, The Weinmesiter is one of those hotels that achieves what every great hotel in the world manages to pull off.

From first impressions to check out, the hotel is central to your city break experience. So much so that for us it is now hard to imagine visiting Berlin and staying anywhere else! The location is perfect for a short stay in the city. As the name suggests Mitte is at the heart of Berlin and so you are within walking distance of many must see sights and spoilt for choice with public transport options. The nearest U Bahn stop is at the end of the street.

 

Don’t just rush through this area on the way to tick off sight seeing achievements though. Over the past 10 years this area has become the undisputed HQ of cool in Berlin with diverse cultures and individuals colliding to create the beating heart of the city. If you enjoy New York’s trendy lower East side you’ll love Mitte. Despite being minutes from most of Berlin’s big plazas there is a definite village feel here. The area is a shopping paradise from big brands and edgy boutiques  to upscale jewelry shops and galleries. After the shopping and sighseeing is done for the day this is also the spot to find some of the best restaurants in the city, buzzing nightlife and great cafes.

 

However you spend your day, if you’re staying at The Weinmeister one of the best parts will be coming back to the hotel.  Help yourself to variety of teas and coffees or sample a “Schwarz liqueur” on the way through the lounge. This herbal cordial is made to the secret family recipe of German actress and hotel regular Jessica Schwarz for whom the bar is named. Live DJs play most evenings but if you want an even more chilled atmosphere hit the rooftop terrace for spectacular views in the shadow of the TV tower. The super service doesn’t stop here after hours either. In fact, there is no “after hours” here. If you’re feeling a little peckish on your return from an evening out, help yourself to a bowl of chilli laid on in the lounge on your way to bed. These little touches are what make The Weinmeister special.

 

The rooms are really well designed with low key, cool decor and all the touches of luxury you would expect with white fluffy robes, slippers and delicious bath products to enjoy in the sublime rain shower. Every room also has an Apple iMac, free WiFi, CD/DVD player and an extra large (and extremly comfortable) bed.

Further your indulgence with a trip to the 6th floor BeautySpa where you can enjoy treatments from a hot stone massage to a manicure including access to the largest choice of Chanel nail polish in Germany!

If you are considering a trip to Berlin the location, service and experience of staying at The Weinmeister will make your visit extra special. If Berlin is not on your current city break list, we think a stay at this hotel is worth travelling to Berlin for.

1. Pariser Platz

Here lies the undisputed emblem of Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate. Constructed between 1788-1791 by Carl Gotthard Langhans, this monument was simply one of the many city gates surrounding the formerly small city of Berlin.

A pleasant square designed next to the gate was named Pariser Platz, which is still home to many important buildings today such as the Hotel Adlon, the Academy of the Arts, and the British and U.S. Embassies. Just south of Pariser Platz one can find the Holocaust Memorial.

2. Reichstag, Federal Chancellery, and the Victory Column

After the Federal Government’s move from Bonn to Berlin, the Reichtag building from 1894 was awoken after decades of inactivity on the border of the Berlin Wall: the building was completely modernized and adjusted to the needs of the reunified republic. From the new glass dome, visitors can appreciate a 360° view of the bustling city.

Many new buildings were constructed near the Reichstag in the 1990s, for example the Band des Bundes with the Federal Chancellery. Berlin’s new Central Train Station (Hauptbahnhof), opened in 2006, is also in close proximity to the Reichstag. From its construction in 1871 until 1938, the Victory Column was located directly in front of the Reichstag, however it was moved to its current location at Grosser Stern by the Nazis for reasons of prestige.

3. Unter den Linden and Museum Island

Already in the 19th century, the central boulevard Unter den Linden (Under the Linden Trees) was Berlin’s most splendid promenade and parade street. Even today the avenue has not lost any of its old charm. The boulevard is home to the main building of Berlin’s Humboldt University, the German Historical Museum, the Berlin Cathedral, the Berlin State Opera, and it even traverses Museum Island. These museums host some of the most important exhibits in Germany. The museums were and continue to be under renovation so that they can soon be able to offer the same range of cultural exhibits as they did before the Second World War.

The Berlin City Palace also used to stand on Museum Island across from the Old Museum. It was torn down during the GDR years and replaced by the Palace of the Republic. The Palace of the Republic has been torn down in recent years and will soon be replaced by a museum commemorating the Berlin City Palace.

4. Charlottenburg Palace

Somewhat outside of the city center, the Charlottenburg Palace receives many visitors each year. It was built in 1700 by the Prussian King Friedrich III for his beloved wife Sophie Charlotte and was placed on the grounds of a picturesque park directly on the Spree river.

The city district Charlottenburg around the palace is one of Berlin’s most desired residential areas. After visitors enjoy a pleasant stroll through the park, they can enjoy the cultural aspects of the location at six museums located directly across from the park on Schlossstrasse.

5. Ku’damm

The Bahnhof Zoo train station is not only surrounded by the center of West Berlin, but also Berlin’s most important shopping district. The Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm) stretches from the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidtplatz to Berlin’s high-class residential district of Halensee.

This street was formerly the horse riding path of the Prince Elector (Kurfürst) of Brandenburg to his hunting palace; today the street is Berlin’s most expensive street, where many high-end brands have placed their flagship stores. Germany’s most luxurious and largest shopping mecca, KaDeWe, can be found on Tauentzienstrasse, an extension street of Ku’damm – and don’t forget the high point of Berlin for younger visitors: the Berlin Zoo.

 

 6. Checkpoint Charlie

It is the scene of several thrillers and espionage novels ranging from James Bond’s “Octopussy” to “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” by John le Carré.

Starting on 22 September 1961 at most famous East German-West German border crossing, allied soldiers registered members of the American, British and French armed forces before their trip to East Berlin. Here foreign tourists were able to inform themselves about their stay.

Because of its role as a transition point for the members of the Allied forces, the Friedrichstraße border checkpoint in October 1961 was the scene of the so-called tank stand off. Today an installation by the artist Frank Thiel commemorates this incident as well as a plaque at the former border.

7. The Fernsehturm (TV Tower) and Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz was more than simply the center of former East Berlin, it was also architecturally the center of the entire GDR. For this reason the socialist design of Alexanderplatz remains fascinating today: wide streets spread out from the square (such as Karl-Marx-Allee with its architecturally exaggerated Stalinist buildings). “Alex“ is also surrounded by some of the tallest buildings in the city, including the largest structure in Berlin: the Fernsehturm (TV Tower).

Also nearby is the Red City Hall (the headquarters of Berlin’s city government) and the Nikolai Quarter, which was reconstructed in the 1980s according to the historical layout. As a striking contrast to the socialist design, Alexanderplatz is also bordered by the oldest churches in the city: the Church of St. Nicholas built in 1230 and St. Mary’s Church, built in 1294. The TV Tower will give you a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city.

8. Oranienburger Strasse

The city district between Hackescher Markt and the New Synagogue was the home to Berlin’s Jewish population until the Holocaust. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Oranienburger Strasse has become a particular attraction for art, culture, and nightlife. Countless restaurants, bars, and galleries can be found here and on side streets.

The Hackescher Markt S-bahn train station located at the south end of Oranienburger Strasse is a hotspot for Berlin’s nightlife – the city doesn’t sleep here. The area around Oranienburger Strasse can certainly be characterized as the vibrant center of Berlin’s midnight hours.

9. Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz and the adjacent Leipziger Platz were the commercial hubs of Berlin before the Second World War. Two main train stations, countless stores and warehouses, theaters, and cinemas transformed this area into the heart of the city – in order to control this heavy flow of pedestrian, carriage, streetcar, and automobile traffic, Europe’s first traffic light was installed here.

Between the end of World War Two and the reunification of Germany, Potsdamer Platz offered another picture entirely: the Berlin Wall cut straight through Potsdamer Platz and was bordered by no-man’s-land and the so-called “death zone.“ After 1989 efforts were made to breathe new life into this former heart of the city. Sony and Daimler Benz developed this area with three skyscrapers, countless stores, and many premiere cinemas.

10. Olympia Stadium

West of the high-end suburb, Westend, there was sufficient undeveloped land for the Nazis to realize their megalomaniacal architectural concepts for the 1936 Olympic Games. In dimensions unimaginable at that time, the Olympia Stadium was constructed here in the 1930s – today the stadium is not only home to Berlin’s soccer team, Hertha BSC, but also hosts rock concerts and athletic championships. Directly next to the Olympia premises is Berlin’s legendary Forest Theater (Waldbühne), an open air stage that excites Berliners with concerts by famous rock bands and pop artists.

Make getting around easy with the Berlin Welcome Card which gives you unlimited travel on the city’s public transport network and discounts on over 200 attractions.

www.visitberlin.de

Dubai

7 nights at the 4* Pullman Dubai from €799 + €252 tax.

Prices are based on 2 sharing a Superior room, travelling between 15th May to 23rd June and 19th July to 18th August and 1st – 30th September. Flights are with Etihad Airways from Dublin direct to Abu Dhabi.

Find out more and book www.classicresorts.ie

 

Orlando

Tour America Family Holiday Deal for Orlando from €479pp

Return Flights to Orlando,
7 nights accommodation at 3* International Drive,
Based on 2 adults + 2 kids sharing.

Departure Date: 12 September 2012.

Find out more and book www.touramerica.ie

Northern Italy

08 Day Tour from €1,118pp plus taxes departing 10th June 2012

Discover some of Italy’s best-kept secrets and celebrated gems on this relaxing tour of northern Italy taking in Milan, Parma and the Cinque Terre.

Package includes return flights ex Dublin to Milan, accommodation on tour in twin rooms with private facilities, meals on tour – 7 breakfasts and 6 dinners.

Find out more and book www.travelfox.ie

Cruise

Eastern Mediterranean Cruise from €865 per person.

Price includes flights, transfers and cruise. Sail on October 14th for 7 nights.Ports of call include Rome, Sicily, Turkey and Greece.

Find out more and book www.abbeytravel.ie

 

Berlin

2 night city break in Berlin from €238.

Offer includes return flights from Dublin with Aer Lingus, two nights accommodation at the Best Western City Ost Hotel and all taxes.

Find out more and book www.arrowtours.ie

 

Phuket

7 nights at the 5* Indigo Pearl hotel in Phuket plus business class flights, private transfers and breakfast from €2,269.

Valid for selected departures, book 30 days before arrival and get a 10% discount on room rate.

 

Find out more and book www.trailfinders.ie

 

Cape Town, South Africa

Stay 7 nights on a B&B basis at the 4* Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Cape Town from €599 per person sharing plus tax €451pp.

Prices are based on 2 sharing a standard room travelling in May & June. Flights are with British Airways via London. Additional nights available on request.Book by 10th April

Find out more and book at www.classicresorts.ie

Dubai

Stay 5 nights at the 5* Movenpick Hotel, Battita Gate on a B&B basis from just €726 per person.

Flights, transfers and taxes are included. Travel date June 16th 2012.

 

 

For more information and to book visit www.travelmood.ie

Thailand

Discover Thailand with a 7 night stay at the 5* Muang Samui Spa Resort from just  €999 per person (plus taxes €270 per person at present – subject to change)

Price Includes:7 nights at the 5* Muang Samui Spa Resort in Koh Samui in a junior suite on B&B basis, flights from Cork, Shannon or Dublin and all transfers.
Valid Dates:01/06/2012 – 30/06/2012

To find out more or book visit www.travelbroker.ie

Berlin

Enjoy a 2 night break in Berlin travelling out on the 09th May from €201 per person.

Includes return flights from Dublin to Berlin, 2 nights at the Best Western City Ost Hotel on a B&B basis.

To find out more or book visit www.arrowtours.ie

Maldives

6 nights at the 4* Island of Kuredu Resort on an all inclusive basis from €1,479 per person.

Flights are with Emirates via Dubai, Etihad via Abu Dhabi and British Airways via London Gatwick subject to availability.

 

Find out more and book at www.tropicalsky.ie

The Pantheon, Rome, Italy

The Pantheon is the best-preserved Roman building in Rome and was built as a temple to all gods in Ancient Rome. The current building is actually a reconstruction of the first temple which existed here. Since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church (and yes, masses are still held here on important Catholic holidays).

One of the most interesting features of the building is the central opening called the Great Eye. When the Pantheon was used as a temple, the fire inside the temple would create smoke which escaped through the opening. Today it is the only light source in the building.

Schonbrunn Gardens, Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. For decades it has been a very popular tourist destination for those visiting Vienna. Only the Gardens can be visited for free and they are worth some hours of your time.

The gates open at 6 a.m (or 6:30 a.m. during winter) and close between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the season. If you arrive by metro you’ll probably enter the grounds via the Zoo gate, while if you come by tram, you can enter the grounds via the main gate.

The Privy Garden is located between the palace and the Gloriette (on top of the hill). In between those, there’s Neptune Fountain. The western parts of the grounds have been turned into an English Garden. On both sides of the Privy Garden there are 32 sculptures. Generally speaking, unless you enter a building, the maze, the Zoo, or climb up to see the views from the Gloriette, you don’t need to pay anything.

It’s pretty much impossible to see all the parts of the Gardens during one day. It gets very hot during summer so make sure to bring enough water (you have to enter to Zoo to get to the mini-shops, so that’s not exactly a good idea) and good walking shoes. It’s pretty easy to climb the hill to the Gloriette and the views are magnificent, even if you don’t go up on the viewing deck.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Paris is filled with incredible places to visit, and Notre Dame is one of those iconic landmarks we all have learned about at some point during our school years.

The beautiful Gothic Cathedral is located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité. It was the first building in the world to use the flying buttress, although it was not originally designed to use them. The construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.

Just like visiting any other Roman Catholic or Orthodox cathedral, make sure to dress accordingly (or how they put it on the official web site “show a respectful attitude, through both their behaviour and their clothing”).

The Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

Once the barrier dividing West and East Berlin, the Berlin Wall is an important part of the German history. The wall fell on November 9, 1989 after a series of protests. Right after the fall, the government opened ten new border crossings and visa-free travel was allowed starting on December 23, 1989. In the summer of 1990 the official dismantling of the Wall began.

Today, only some sections of the walls exist as memorials, and nearly all of the original wall is gone. The longest remaining stretch is the East Side Gallery, which is now considered an open-air museum. There are also sections of the wall along with their histories located in the busy Alexanderplatz area.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

The Charles Bridge is one of the most beautiful places and best-known attractions in Prague. And best of all, it’s free. The stone Gothic bridge started its life in 1352. There are towers on each end of the bridge but only one can be climbed. The bridge is lined with 30 statues (most of them are replicas of the originals). Touching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk is believed to bring luck.

The pedestrian bridge is almost always full so if you want to avoid the crowds, plan to walk on the bridge either early in the morning or late at night.

La Rambla and La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain

The most famous street in Barcelona is, without a doubt, La Rambla. During summer it’s awfully crowded with both locals and tourists but it represents a lovely way to do some people watching and window shopping. The middle part of the street is pedestrian only and at any time during the tourist season it comes to life due to the live performances and the flower market.  There are interesting buildings on both sides of the street and if you want to relax, go to Placa Reial, just off La Rambla. And for a colorful and exotic meal, check out La Boqueria, the iconic street market filled with pretty much anything you might want to buy or eat.

St. Peter’s Basillica, Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basillica is one of the greatest Roman Catholic churches in the entire world. It is also has the largest interior, capable of holding 60,000 people. Catholic tradition holds that the tomb of Saint Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus, is under the altar of the basillica. Despite popular misconception, St. Peter’s Basillica is not a cathedral (as it is not the seat of a bishop).

There was an old Constantinian basillica on this site since the 4th century and the present building was completed in 1626. It is associated with Michelangelo (the first chapel on the north aisle contains the famous Pietà) and with papacy. There are over 100 tombs within the Basillica, many located beneath the building (including 91 popes).