Monday, December 5th 2016 – Berlin
And so for our final day in Berlin. We’d packed, left our bags in our room courtesy of the late checkout option, and had one last breakfast care of the Club Intercontinental (not too much, we were booked for lunch at the Reichstag later in the day) and so set off to do a little souvenir buying en route. First stop was the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop where I was in pursuit of a very specific item as a jokey present for a friend. It’s fair to say that their range runs from the glorious, shiny, would have made Augustus the Strong (or as we like to call him Augustus the “Ooh, Shiny! Must Have!”) very happy to the “not in my house under any circumstances thank you!” but eventually we found what we were looking for, paid up and headed down the underground to KaDeWe where we opted to potter around the food halls.
I can only say that the Kaufhaus des Westens as it’s more properly but less popularly known is probably Berlin’s equivalent of a cross between Harrods and Fortnum and Mason but with more affordable prices. A trip to the Nespresso shop on the ground floor saw me buying their Christmas coffees (with notes of Linzer Torte, Sachertorte and Apple Strudel!) and being offered tasting cups to decide which ones we liked best.
After that we went up to the 7th floor where the food and drink is sold and snagged a pack of “DIY” curry wursts to have for dinner once we got home, and some bottles of wine including one of the Hand in Hand Spätburgunder we’d drunk at Neni the night before. So that counted as a success.
On the way out we noticed that we were about to enter the U2 line via Wittenbergplatz station, a beautiful old station with a less than beautiful past as it was from here that trains departed for the concentration camps. There is a small memorial now in the shape of a metal frame with signs bearing the names of the camps. It’s small, simple, chilling and a reminder of what can happen if we are not very careful of our leaders.
Our next shopping stop was the Fassbender and Rausch Schokoladenhaus over on the Gendarmenmarkt to buy chocolates for our friend who’d been looking after the cats while we were away. And what a shop it is! It’s the place for a chocoholic although you may find yourself unable to decide what you want of the wonderful offerings. Also, there are numerous massive chocolate representations of all sorts of Berlin landmarks, large scale figures, all sorts of amazing examples of the art of the chocolatiers.
From there we hailed a passing cab as time was running away from us and we needed to get to the Reichstag for our lunch booking, about which more elsewhere. After lunch we were able to wander up the dome, enjoying the complexity of the structure, and the views. It was a fine, clear if freezing cold day and the outside of the panes was still partly iced over, which made the whole experience even more interesting.
Lynne refused to walk up to the top on the grounds that there was too much edge and not enough solidity, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would very much recommend it to anyone. Having a restaurant booking was a plus as well as it enabled us to jump the queues to get in (though it didn’t mean we could skip the understandable security check or wander off on our own until the guides had shepherded us to the roof level where the restaurant is situated).
Lunch over and done with and the walk up and down the dome sorted, and it was time to head back to the hotel to collect our bags, check out and be ferried to the airport, indulgently in a limo, partly because the hotel was blocked off due to some event or other for the SPD and we were worried that we might not be able to get a taxi, partly because it wasn’t too expensive and we figured it was a nice way to round off the trip.
And because we were flying business class, we were treated to a meal we didn’t need, and a much appreciated bottle of Champagne on the way home! It’s a hard life…