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Beautiful Berlin

The German capital is a wonderful mix of both worlds -- the charm of the East and the luxury of the West

travel Updated: Feb 04, 2012 15:28 IST

Berlin is
where one
can still
witness
remnants
of the
East-West Germany divide.
Extremely organised, it
represents the modern west
and eclectic east.


As in most European cities, walking around is the best way to get to know the city better. But beware of cyclists who zip past, as most residents prefer to cycle to work thanks to the dedicated cycle tracks.

And while strolling around the streets, don't be surprised if you see some old Fiat cars. Called the Trabis, the cars were popular with East Germans. Now these Trabis are used for sightseeing and indulging in a bit of nostalgia.

Another interesting way to see the city is by the cycle rickshaw or a velotaxi. Two passengers can sit in this very comfortable large tricycle, peddled by the driver.

Regal structures
It takes at least two days to experience the city and soak in the flavours. One impressive structure that leaves a mark is the Bellevue Palace, the official residence of the German President. And, with its magnificent blue dome, the Berlin Cathedral is definitely one of the capital's crowdpullers. If you have time, do go up to the top of the dome and take in the magnificent view of the centre of Berlin. Also visit the Museum Island, a cluster of five museums on the river Spree and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next, witness German technology at its best at the Berlin TV tower that is 368 metres tall. It takes just 40 seconds by elevator to go up 200 metres (almost a thousand steps).

The construction of the Berlin Television Tower showed that a better future was being built in the east. A viewing gallery and a revolving restaurant make this visit amazing. Check out the authentic German dishes, accompanied by the famous German multi-grained bread sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.

Shop talk
Shopping is a good bet at the Kurfürstendamm where colourful Berlin bears, almost six feet high, dot the street. The Kudamm is the most popular shopping street in Berlin. The 3.5 kilometre-long boulevard is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and leads from Breitscheidplatz with the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church in Charlottenburg to Rathenauplatz in Grunewald, where the exclusive residential areas in the west of Berlin begin.

And then, Hackesche Höfe is a great place for the label-conscious to be. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has developed into the central contact point for both Berliners and people visiting. Incidentally, one of the most interesting walks is at Unter den Linden (Under the Linden trees) -- a wide street that houses historical buildings and designer labels and is the best address in Berlin.

Walls and gates
History coupled with spanking new development makes Berlin a great contrast. The Brandenburger Tor is the famous gate built in the 18th century as a symbol of peace. During the Cold War, when the gate was located right near the border between East and West Berlin, it became a symbol of a divided city. The gate is best viewed in the early hours of the morning when tourists do not throng it. A visit to the famous Berlin Wall is touching. The rubble is retained in one part of the city, while artists from all over the world have beautified the other part with paintings.