The first day in Berlin could not have been better. Some useful advice from the people at my hostel forced me to consider visiting most of the palaces and doing the tour of Berlin on Monday. So I started out west from Schloss Charlottenberg and made my way east to the Memorial Church and Tiergarten. Much to my surprise, I found getting around difficult and frustrating and many people barely able to understand a word of English.
Although Berlin Schonefeld may have been far in comparison to the other airports, it only took 20 minutes to get to Bahnhof Alexanderplatz. However, finding the hostel was a bit difficult, it wasn't marked clearly even though it was only about 5 metres from the U-Bahn station! Nevertheless, the people at the hostel gave me lots of advice on sightseeing, but when I told them I wanted to go to Park Sansoucci, I had to make a compromise and leave the tour of Central and East Berlin on the very last day (Note this: Most palaces are closed on Monday).
Because of this, I had to make tracks for Schloss Charlottenburg, one of the first palaces built by the Prussian King Frederich I. There are two parts to the palace, a museum housing a china collection and an egyptian museum and the royal halls and apartments, each needs to be paid separately. But with the sun shining outside, I was tempted to quickly get out and wander around the park while having lunch.
Lunch proved to be most difficult as the counter guy at a nearby kebab shop could not understand a word of English. I couldn't believe it, but then most guide books mention that people in parts of East Germany still find it hard to understand English.
The park around Schloss Charlottenburg is huge. It took me about a couple of hours to explore the park, including the Belvedere and the Mausoleum. I should not forget to mention the oriental-styled bridge at the fish pond where the whole palace can be seen - the Germans were quite big on things that were chinese in the 18th Century.
Finally I left Charlottenburg on one of the buses back to the Zooglischer garten bahn. From here, I explored the bombed out shell of the Memorial church and Kurfurstendamn. The memorial church was quite interesting on the outside with its clocktower while inside, a mosaic of Christ can be seen on the ceiling. Other than that, the area looked more like a shopping/cinema district, and the intense afternoon sun forced me to head to the Tiergarten.
Originally used as a hunting park, the Tiergarten now functions as a recreation park. Not surprisingly, some people were making the most of the sun, or by sitting in the shade, trying to cool off. Again, the Tiergarten is huge, this time I didn't bother exploring the whole park and instead walked east to Oswald Schumann Platz where the column of Victory stands.
The huge Column of Victory in the square had already closed when I emerged from the subway that starts at the Tiergarten, the only access route. Tired from all the walking, I found a place to sit on the east side under the column's shadow only to be surprised at the huge distance between myself and the Brandenburg Gate, the gateway to the old Berlin. Further out, the TV tower can be seen, and thus could probably be seen anywhere within Berlin. Just thinking about the distances walked and observed and my tired feet gave me an indication of how spread out the city was, and how difficult it would be to quickly cover the centre of Berlin on my last day.
Canon EOS 300V with 28-90mm and 75-300mm USM lense. Fuji 100 Reala and NPH 400. Canon A20 Powershot Digital Camera