When thinking about a trip to Germany we immediately associate it with a large city. Our mind usually relates it to a flat and perhaps indifferent landscape, a dull industrial environment, with chimneys producing technology, rainy weather and strict people who do not think much about us Greeks. Our Easter trip was destined to Wolfsburg, and our favorite neighbor Simela, that hosted us in her home.
We arrived on Holy Tuesday’s evening after a 2 hours’ flight from Thessaloniki we arrived at Berlin and later at the offices of Eurocar, just outside Schönefeld airport, where we picked the Opel Corsa we had rented. (158 € for 6 days in combination with our tickets / total 628 € for 3 persons).
Wolfsburg is located in the north, 90 km. east of Hanover and 230 km drive far from our final destination. Great roads, gorgeous landscapes unfolding before us, huge parks with dozens of turbines! There was an issue with the signs which are all in German !!! All Germans have GPSs. Do not set off without it.
We spent the first two days in Wolfsburg walking around the green city. Trees everywhere, manicured parks with lakes, canals, animals (rabbits, geese, squirrels, otters and countless birds) living freely in residential areas. The feeling you have is that you live in a habitat. Kilometers of cycle paths, protected pedestrian walkways, benches, playgrounds! Volkswagen industry, dominant in Wolfsburg besides the well-known cars of the group produces tasty sausages as well!
So try the currybockwurst sausages of Volkswagen, visit the Autostadt, presenting all vehicles of the group in a unique way, in an environment configured with lakes, bridges, restaurants and cafes as well as a museum of technology evolution in cars, of sale and track test drive. (Inquire about entry prices and opening hours at: http://www.autostadt.de/en/explore-theautostadt/ We preferred the hours with reduced entry (€ 7), an amount you can consume in the restaurants of the center.
Apart from walks in the beautiful city streets and shopping centers with famous brand name discount clothes, relax with a visit to Badeland, a huge aquatic amusement park that receives 790,000 visitors a year, part of Allerpark, a multiplex with numerous recreational activities. Check out the address: http://www.allerpark.net/en/the-park/overview-allerpark.html
Enjoy your coffee on the main road Porschestraße, at “Bar Celona” (a rich breakfast/ lunch buffet may be your option, too)! If you prefer Chinese eat at “Lou’s” (Friederikenring 5, in Vorsefelede, http://www.lous-chinarestaurant.de), if not select the “Altes Brauhaus zu Fallersleben” for authentic German cuisine.
Hanover was our next destination. At 90 km from Wolfsburg, the city of 500,000 residents with a relaxed pace on major walkways and squares, showed crowds only at the main train station “Hannover Hauptbahnhof”. We parked under “Ernst August Galerie Knaufhof” Mall (2 € / hour) and strolled around the beautiful square with cafes and beautiful station building. A coexistence of modern with the old. The city was almost leveled by bombings, and yet Altstadt (the old town), not lacking in any German city that respects itself, exudes such an atmosphere that it is hard to believe that its buildings are not at all medieval, but perfect copies of the originals that didn’t survive the bombings of WWII.
For a day’s tour, start by following the Bahnohofstrave street, just opposite the statue of Ernst August, at the station square and then Georgstrave and pass in front of the opera house Staatsoper Hannover at the beautiful Opernplatz square. Turning on the right and two blocks below, stands the majestic church Aegidienkirche, bombed during the Second World War and never restored, remaining a proof of the deadly war. At this point you are very close to the New Town Hall. Following Ebhardtstrave street you will you will reach the huge and majestic the Neues Rathaus, built in 1913. Take the elevator to the dome of the New Town Hall to admire the town panorama, from a height of 98 meters.
Continuing north, locate the Altes Rathaus (http://www.altes-rathaus-hannover.de/) Located on Karmarschstrasse 42, one of the oldest buildings in Hanover, the medieval Old Town Hall.
In the same square (Hanns-Lilje-Platz, 2) there is Marktkirche Hannover (St. Georgii et Jacobi). The oldest church of Hanover was built in the 14th century and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Its impressive interior was destroyed during the Second World War and was fully restored in the 50’s.The lucky ones will enjoy the organ playing(www.marktkirche-hannover)
The tour lasted for about 5 hours. On a longer stay we recommend:
Herrenhausen Gardens (Herrenhäuser Strasse 4).Visit the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, walking through the green Herrenhäuser Garten you will feel like being in Versailles, without the hordes of tourists and souvenir vendors. You will need a car or means of transport if you set off from the city centre.
Maschsee Lake, south of the New Town Hall. The huge artificial lake Maschsee in the heart is a favorite place of recreation for locals and visitors. An ideal setting for picnics, jogging and roller skating, swimming, boating, pedal boats and sailing boats dinners, especially during the summer months.
Erlebnis Zoo: The zoo in the center of Hanover city, is accessible from almost all public transportation. It’s awarded and it takes a long time to walk around it. https://www.zoo-hannover.de/en
And once the weather got better after the rains and low temperatures we decided to spent Friday in Berlin! What can you see in a single day in Berlin?
Dozens of landmarks all around, inextricably linked to the unification of the population. Monuments, houses, shops and people form a heterogeneous “puzzle”, since two different “worlds” were called after decades to live together, now forming a whole with their similarities and differences. Berlin is a patchwork of peoples and cultures!
Our selection included a circular route starting from Potsdamerplatz, where we parked in the basement of the Sony Center. The newly built area which for over 28 years was a buffer zone, was once lit only by lights on the Berlin Wall, aiming to identify those who were trying to flee to West Berlin.
This area that was rebuilt from scratch in record time, with impressive skyscrapers, designed by famous architects, with modern buildings and modern homes took the place of the abandoned buildings of the 50s. You will hear noise and see lots of people come and go, because the area under the huge dome of the Sony Center is very popular to locals and tourists.
Heading eastwards, 3 streets below to the right, we arrived at Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point in the Berlin Wall, which divided the East from the West part. A popular tourist attraction, bustling with tourists taking their photos in front of the huge posters of the American and Russian soldier or reading about the history of the walls. (A 500ml bottle of water costs 2 € at this point!)
At 1,700 m distance northeast lays the Museumsinsel (Museum Island), a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is in the middle of the Spree. Five of the most important museums of Berlin are housed there like the Neues Museum, the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti and the impressive Museum of Pergamum hosting a partial reconstruction of the Pergamon Altar (170-159 BC) and other fascinating exhibits. We unluckily found the Pergamon room closed due to renovation works. Therefore before visiting the region make sure your points of interest are open.
http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/pergamonmuseum/home.html or http://www.smb.museum/en/home.html page for information about all the Berlin museums.
In the same area visit Cathedral Berliner Dom, the largest church in the city and the center for the Protestant Church of Germany. You can climb the 270 steps to the outside corridor for fantastic city views, or visit the Hohenzollern (Crypt), where many kings are buried. Navigate to the Cathedral Museum containing the plans and models of the cathedral design, and admire the great Sauer organ with 7269 pipes and 113 registers.
Following Unter der Linden street to the west or taking the train (SBan) as we did, taking off at Hauptbahnhof station and passing the bridge led us to the German Parliament area, in the famous Reichstag (the building of the German Parliament called Bundestag today). Its dome, entirely made of glass, allows a panoramic view of the city. The entrance to the roof is allowed, but you must register in advance and stand in a long queue. Continuing on foot, a short walk led us to Tor Brandenburger (Brandenburg Gate), the emblem of Berlin, along the lines of the Acropolis Gate (Propylaea) built in 1791. It was a gate of the Berlin Wall and was once a sad symbol of division. However, today, after the demolition of the wall, it is now a symbol of unity. The square in front of it is Pariser Platz, where every moment something happens! Musicians, impromptu performances …Siegessäule column could be seen towards Tiergarten park Grover.
Alternatively, bike- taxis are available in the area, for two passengers to move you around the sights comfortably! On the vertical to the gate street” Unter den Linden”, many souvenir shops, luxury hotels and cafés with tables on the pavement are the best pick after all this walking! Coffee prices for are normal!
We returned to Sony Center through ”Ebertstrave” road with a stop at the Holocaust Memorial (Holocaust Memorial), a network of 2.711 concrete slabs that vary in height and one can walk through them.
Trying to catch up with the Zoological garden visit hours, we failed. We arrived there at 17.10’. The Zoologischer Garten (www.zoo-berlin.de/en) closes at 18:30 but does not accept other guests after 17.00. Pity! It has more than 19,000 animals of various species and is one of the most impressive gardens in the world they say!. Maybe next time!
To tell the truth, we were late trying to figure out the Berlin transport system. All the maps and information were only in German!!!! Until we found someone who spoke English and could help us with the stops we lost time. So make sure you make a nice plan, deciding the routes you will needed. See if it’s cheaper to buy a day card. The ticket for one trip is 2,70 €! Pretty expensive!
Summing up, the issue of language was a negative point. In our contacts with Germans (market, coffee station) few spoke or wanted to speak English! We were speaking in English and they were responding in German! The worst, however, and I mention it because it happened in five encounters, sellers were rude, offensive and unhelpful. Shocking and sad for such a touristic place. Making the visitor to feel unwelcome!
Furthermore we would like to have visited
• Jewish Museum: (http://www.jmberlin.de/main/EN/homepage-EN.php)
• The preserved sections of the Berlin Wall, where the largest part (length of about 1.5 km) is covered with graffiti. The Berlin East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall covered in artworks by 106 different artists 1.3 km. This monument to liberty was painted in 1990 and is the largest open-air gallery in the world.
• Walk to the famous Alexanderplatz Square with its famous TV tower or Fernsehturm known as Tele-spargel, total height 305 meters, which is visible from almost every point of Berlin. The sphere contains a revolving restaurant called Telecafé at 207m.
And of course the list does not end here!
But our trip was over! We spent Easter day with friends, neighbors in Wolfsnurg, which offered us an Easter lunch with Greek delicacies! Thanks you Tasos and Effie! The same night the lights of Fair lit up the sky. The Germans welcome May with celebrations !!!
We got back with beautiful images, full of our dear friend’s hospitality and as always the germ of “pametaxidaki” working in our minds!
More about Berlin: