Moving around in Berlin
Berlin is a huge city, but it is extremely well served by urban transport. Many modes of transportation are available, including an underground subway (u banh), a rapid transit system in and out of the city (s banh), and numerous buses and trams.
Despite all these options, one impression still remains in Berlin: no matter where you go, it always takes 20-30 minutes to get there. This is due to the size of the city and the fact that not all points of interest are concentrated in the center, but rather are scattered all over the place!
AC Hotel Berlin Humboldthain Park
Located in the north of the city, the AC Hotel Berlin Humboldthain Park is slightly removed from Berlin’s main attractions, but still conveniently located for transport.
The hotel, which faces a small park, is adjacent to the Moxy Berlin Humboldthain Park hotel (also part of the Marriott group) and shares some services with it (including the gym).
The area is residential on the whole and relatively quiet. Just outside the subway – which is two blocks away – there is a shopping center, which is handy when we are missing some essentials, as was the case during our visit! Pharmacy, grocery store, clothing or electronics stores, the offer is not lacking. We had no trouble getting the few essentials we needed.
The AC Hotel Berlin Humboldthain Park is also located on the so-called “ring”, a line of the S-Banh that runs around Berlin. Some subway lines also run at the same location. It is therefore very easy to get to, despite its location somewhat removed from the city centre.
The room was on the 6th floor and faced north, essentially giving us a view of small houses. It was very large, clean and modern. There was a small refrigerator, which is always a plus for us. To keep expenses down, whenever possible, we buy cereal and milk for breakfast in the room, which is always a fraction of the price of a hotel breakfast.
To get Marriott Bonvoy points for free hotel nights, here’s a credit card offer recommended by milesopedia:
December and the many Christmas markets
Berliners, and Germans in general, are not kidding when December comes around. There are many Christmas markets throughout the city, some modest and some truly grandiose. You can taste the famous “Glühwein” (spiced mulled wine), hot chocolates (alcoholic or not), sweets, caramelized nuts and other such delights!
Most markets are free of charge, but access to the Gendarmenmarkt market cost €2 per person. The place was nice and beautiful, the finish was a bit more polished than in other places, although a bit too “clean” from our point of view and lacking a bit of the rustic feel associated with Christmas!
We also visited the Christmas market at Alexanderplatz, as well as those at Breitscheidplatz and Nikolaiviertel. The last one was very small and located in front of the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church). There were two open-air “cinemas” showing old black and white films, a hot chocolate/gluhwein stand and a few treats to sink your teeth into!
The one at Breitscheidplatz was located in the vicinity of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, which became a kind of symbol of the Second World War because it was heavily damaged by Allied bombing. In the aftermath of the war, the Berliners decided not to rebuild it but to keep it as a memorial. Its presence in the heart of the Christmas market gives a special colour to the place. By far our favorite, this market was in our opinion the most beautiful, warm and diverse of those we visited!
Berlin, a city steeped in history
Of course, Berlin is a city with an impressive history. We started our first day of historical sightseeing by visiting the Brandenburger Tor (or Brandenburg Gate), Berlin’s landmark symbol, and the main symbol of the division that separated the East from the West of the city – but also the world – for three decades. In the square directly in front of the gate was a temporary sculpture paying tribute to whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
A few minutes away, we then visited the memorial to the European Jews murdered during the Second World War. Located outside, access is free. The place is impressive and you want to walk through it in silence. The concrete slabs are of various shapes, angular, imperfect.
Continuing south, we came across Potsdamer Platz, a former no-man’s land during the cold war and rebuilt since reunification. Many sections of the old wall can be found there.
From there we went to the Topography of Terrors, an indoor/outdoor history museum on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. It was once built on the ruins of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters, which were also bombed by the Allies during the Second World War. This is the longest part of the wall still standing.
Afterwards, we visited the Berlin History Bunker. The exhibition is about the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and his ideology, the National Socialism. The exhibition is extremely complete and very interesting. At the entrance, it says the visit lasts an hour and a half, but in reality, after two hours, we were far from the exit door. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to complete our visit! If you like history, allow at least three hours to get through it.
Finally, to complete this day of historical sightseeing, we went to the very famous Checkpoint Charlie. A must-see site, it is the most famous border crossing of the Cold War era, a true symbol of the division between liberal democracy and communism before 1989.
In Berlin, it is difficult to go more than two blocks without finding the famous Currywurst.We affectionately call it “Berlin’s poutine”! It is a mixture of fries, sausages (fried or steamed), tomato sauce and curry. A pure delight! Especially since it only costs a few euros. Having tested a few places, we decided that the best place to find an excellent currywurst was at “Curry 61“, which offers plates that can satisfy two stomachs for the modest sum of 4.60€.
For a chic evening, we tried the SOLAR Bar Restaurant and we recommend the experience. The location is 70m above ground, on the 16th floor, near Potsdamerplatz and the Brandenburg Tor. The restaurant is rather expensive, but for a lover’s night out, or simply to make great memories, it is the place to go!
On the coffee side, we tried the Father Carpenter. The place is located in a beautiful courtyard. The café is nicely decorated, very clean and the quality of the products is top notch!
For lunch, we went to the House of Small Wonders. Everything was absolutely delicious, and the environment was perfect. Surrounded by tropical plants, warm and inviting wood, we couldn’t ask for more. Be careful though, because given the popularity of the place, the wait can be very long – think hours.
To enjoy excellent tapas, we recommend YOSOY. The place is small and very popular. It is therefore a good idea to make a reservation, even at the beginning of the week!
Last recommendation on the food side, Đistrict Một – Saigon Street Food, the best of street food, inside! The decor is playful and inspiring, and what can I say about the Pho… It was divne!
A city of discovery
There are numerous inner courtyards such as the Hackesche Höfe, lovely places to stroll and admire for hours. In addition to the enchanting scenery, there are small hidden shops, excellent cafés and even small independent cinemas.
In conclusion, Berlin is a city to discover and rediscover. We will gladly return. Despite the fact that we tried to visit the main places to discover, we feel that we missed many other wonders.
For Christmas lovers, Berlin is a beautiful and unmissable city to discover throughout the month of December.