Posts Tagged ‘Berlin’

Shoestring-Feb2009It’s the first of the month (rabbit, rabbit), and you know what that means:  February’s calendar desktop is now ready for download.  Preview of the image at left.

If you’re not sure how to change your desktop wallpaper, follow the easy instructions in the For Your Desktop tab.


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A new “express” bus service now links Südkreuz train station in Berlin with Schönefeld Airport.  Price:  6 euros, 4 euros with any BVG ticket, 3 euros with a weekly or monthly ticket.  For those flying into Berlin, the ticket remains valid for further transit on public transportation in Berlin ABC.

This bus represents no monetary savings to Shoestring travelers.

  • Berliners with a regular AB ticket need only purchase an “Anschlussticket” for 1.40 euros to take the RE train, the S-Bahn or a BVG bus to the airport.
  • Visitors coming into town for a few days will most certainly be better off purchasing a 2-, 3- or 5-day tourist card or a weekly ticket and traveling by one of the aforementioned methods.
  • If you’re still weighing your options, a single Berlin ABC ticket will get you into town and beyond for just 2.80 euros!

I’m posting about the service nevertheless, as you may find that it will save you transit time, depending on where you are staying/living.  For less than 2 euros more (with my monthly ticket), I may cut up to 30 minutes off my route to the airport — and that’s something worth writing about!

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I love capitols — can’t get enough of their marble halls, gilded domes, dark wood paneling and hundreds of tiny desks (at least they always *look* tiny from the viewing gallery) with multicolored voting buttons.  They capture a regal era removed from our own with a permanence found rarely in modern architecture.

While in DC at the beginning of January, my destination of choice was the new visitors’ center at the U.S. Capitol.  On the way, I passed the inauguration grounds with stage building in progress, pictured on Tuesday.  (Where did you spend your inauguration day? Share your stories in the comments.)

In sheer contrast to the classical American dome is that of the German Reichstag, whose glass dome by Sir Norman Foster was added to the building after reunification.  The overarching theme of Germany’s new governmental architecture is transparency, with buildings and offices as visible as possible.  From the visitors’ area of the dome, it is possible to look down into the plenary room below, as pictured here.

Reichstag, inside view

A visit to the Reichstag is fun and free — check all the details for making yours a smooth one in this previous post.

Follow other Photo Friday participants here.

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Carnival of Cities logoWelcome travelers!  I’m happy to be hosting the Carnival of Cities this week.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you should appreciate the variety of locations included in this weekly carnival; if you’re a follower of the carnival, welcome to my blog on no-budget travel and feel free to poke around!

Now, without further ado . . .

If planning a weekend trip to Canada, you’ll want to stop by Go Green Travel Green‘s post Vancouver in 2 (Eco-Friendly) Days at Go Green Travel Green.

Heading south to California with Fido? Nancy Brown presents Upscale and Affordable Dog-Friendly Lodging in Mendocino County posted at What a Trip, saying, “Welcome to my new website! Less Than a Shoestring readers will appreciate the budget minded and dog friendly Fort Bragg recommendations, as well as the insider tip on a FREE off leash dog beach in Mendocino County.”

Another California destination — Half Moon Bay, to be exact — is presented by the baglady in Expensive cars are unnecessary for a good time – The Baglady’s 1st Anniversary Trip posted at xynny.

Looking for a cheap hotel in Chicago?  You can’t believe everything you read on the internet says Neil in B.Y.O.F. posted at Your Mileage May Vary, saying, “Some shoestrings are stringier than others…”

Hopping the Atlantic to Europe, I’ve got a post on what to see on a quick layover in Berlin in my post Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part II here at Less Than a Shoestring.

A train ride eastward brings us to Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ Photo Friday: Jewish Krakow posted at Roaming Tales, saying, “The Jewish quarter in Krakow still persists but it’s a shadow of its pre-World War II self. The Jewish Cemetery is a poignant reminder of what’s lost.”

Down on the Mediterranean, Jason Green presents The other side of Croatia – Pula « Europe a la Carte Blog posted at Europe A La Carte Blog, saying, “The Croatian city of Pula has beautiful beaches, a Roman arena and excellent seafood.”

Flying on to the subcontinent, AdmirableIndia.com presents Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore: Part 1: Ancient Watch Tower and Organic Cultivation posted at AdmirableIndia.com.

Closing ceremonies this week in Beijing make Wendy’s post on City Icons: Beijing China at Escape From New York the fitting end to this carnival edition! 

Thanks for visiting and submitting!  You can easily get in on the next edition of Carnival of Cities by using the handy-dandy carnival submission form.  See you next week at the newly rebranded Family Travel Logue!

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Senator Barack Obama wraps up his multi-country tour public appearances with Senators Reed and Hagel today in Berlin, where he will be giving an evening speech open to the public following meetings with German government officials.

I’ve been leafletting for three days, getting out the word to Germans and Americans alike. If you’re in the city today, here are the details:

Thursday, July 24
Siegesäule (Victory Column), entrance via the Brandenburg Gate ONLY
Entry begins at 4 p.m., speech begins at 7 p.m.
No bags or banners allowed. Expect security checks (and delays) similar to airport security at the entrance.
Large screens with live feed have been set up along Strasse des 17. Juni should crowds prevent listeners from getting close to the stage.

I’ll be there registering Americans abroad to vote. If you’ve never registered or have not yet requested your absentee ballot, do stop by today and we’ll get you set up for November. (If you’re an American abroad somewhere other than Berlin, please go to the website Vote from Abroad to get your registration in order.)

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Yesterday’s post on Berlin main train station layovers described a lovely picnic location in a nearby park. If you can’t forgo sightseeing for two hours, however, there are two options within short distance of the station:

  • Chancellory / Reichstag / Brandenburg Gate / Holocaust Monument

Check your luggage at the train station and head out from the Washingtonplatz entrance. You should already see the Chancellory waiting across the Spree. Cross the bridge over the river and head towards it. You’ll pass between the Chancellory and the Paul Löbe Haus (Bundestag offices) — from here, looking both left and right, you can see the architect’s intentional symbolism of transparency in government.

Around the corner, the Reichstag comes into view. In winter, or between 6 and 10 p.m. year-round, you may have a good chance of ascending to the top in 30 minutes or less — expect to spend at least 30 minutes inside the dome as well. At other times and on weekends, waits alone may exceed 2 hours. If you must get to the top on a limited schedule, the only other way in is to make (and keep!) reservations at Käfer, the restaurant atop the building. You can find an online reservation request form here. It offers spectacular views and reasonable value for the price — try to hit lunch (soups ~ 9 euros, salads ~ 14 euros) or Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake ~ 7 euros) time instead of the pricier dinner hour.

With half a day, you could request a guided tour of the building, which all end at the viewing dome. It is best to send your requests in advance, but it is possible to pop over even at the last minute at the scheduled tour times to see if space is available (enjoy the sights, but don’t expect English explanations in such a case, however). Amazingly, all visits to and tours of the Reichstag are FREE!

From the rear of the building, follow the masses across the street and down the block to the Brandenburg Gate. If you have extra time, the Holocaust Memorial is just a bit further up the street. If instead you find yourself short on time, hop on the M85 bus (ask for the cheaper “Kurzstrecke” ticket) from either the Memorial or the Reichstag which will take you right back to the main train station.

Exiting the main station on Europaplatz, head towards the right, walking along Lehrter Str.; the museum is located about a 7-minute walk from the station, on the opposite side of the street. Closed Mondays; open Tuesday-Friday 10-18; Saturday 11-20; Sunday 11-18. Admission price: 8 euros for adults, 4 euros for students with valid ID. Admission free Thursdays after 2 p.m.

If this all still seems confusing, why don’t you try following my Google map?

Wondering about the stuffed rabbit featured in the photo? Check out the post ITB Impressions: Send Your Teddy Bear on Vacation.
Find other posts from the Two Hours in . . . series here.

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Two Hours in . . . is a new series on layover time killers for major transportation hubs. First stop: Berlin’s main train station. This first post in a two-part report will describe a relaxed, non-sightseeing option. The next post will describe your short-term sightseeing options — so stay tuned for further ideas.

On the -1 level (B1), you’ll find a Kaiser’s supermarket in the far southwest corner (consult this map) which will handily provide you with everything you need for a picnic lunch or dinner. Take your supplies and head out the Europaplatz entrance; cross twice at the streetlight to the left. Continue to the middle of the block, where you will find the entrance to the Moabit Prison Historical Park (open daily from April to September, 8-21; October to March, 8-16). While the place is designed for the memorialization of political prisoners held and executed there for over a century, you will find — as in many such memorial spaces in Germany — dual-use areas, with a children’s play corner and picnic tables (where I recently saw a child’s birthday celebration) and loads green space for playing with dogs, frisbees or simply sunning oneself. Enjoy the grass and quiet till it’s time to head back to your connecting train.

If this description seems confusing, why don’t you try following my Google map?

Wondering about the stuffed rabbit featured in the photo? Check out the post ITB Impressions: Send Your Teddy Bear on Vacation.
Find other Two Hours in . . . posts here.

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