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Dresden & Berlin

After meeting Hisham and my fellow delegates at London City Airport, we boarded a Cityjet flight direct to Dresden.

When we arrived in Dresden we were taken to the Hotel Bulow Palais for a 1 night stay. The hotel has a perfect location, in the peaceful cobbled streets across the river from the Old Town, a 10 minute walk away. It boasts the Michelin starred “Caroussel” restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious dinner that evening.

After checking in, we embarked on a walking tour of beautiful Dresden with its famous skyline. The buildings, which were flattened during the WW2 bombing by England (which was pointed out to us several times !) have all been recreated exactly as they were originally. It is a town with pretty squares and pavement cafes. We visited The Green Vault museum, full of amazing treasures and climbed the Frauenkirche , a baroque church, for stunning views over the Elbe river. This church was rebuilt in 2005 as a symbol of peace and reconciliation after the reunification of Germany.

We had lunch in the famous Pulverturm (Powder Tower) which stored gunpowder, and then enjoyed our dessert, coffee and Dresden cake aboard a paddle steamer for a 90 minute cruise down the Elbe with commentary from our local guide.

We visited The famous Green Vault museum ,full of amazing treasures and antiquities and then on to the Zwinger, a palace built in 1719 with gardens and fountains and Meissen porcelain bells which chime a couple of times every day.

The next morning we were off to Meissen, 25 kms outside Dresden to visit the world famous Meissen Porcelain factory, which was founded 300 years ago. We were shown the various stages involved in the making of this amazing pottery and then were able to visit the factory shop to make purchases. We had lunch in the lovely cafe there also. We then visited the town of Meissen, which was really beautiful with cobbled streets and lovely buildings. |It would be a perfect destination for a weekend break somewhere a bit different.

It was time to return to Dresden for our train journey to Berlin, which took 3 hours.

Upon arrival at Berlin Hauptbahnof we were taken to our hotel for the next 2 nights, The De Rome. The hotel has a great location in the heart of Berlin, off the beautiful Unter Den Linden boulevard.The building dates back to 1889 when it was the headquarters of the Dresdener Bank until 1945. Much of the original features have been preserved, including the vault and the history was very interesting. We were taken on a very interesting guided coach tour of this diverse and vibrant city. We were given the opportunity to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, erected in August 1961 , dividing East and West Berlin for almost 30 years. It was torn down in June 1990. We saw Checkpoint Charlie, the landmark boundary marking the East/West divide, with a sentry house and border line. The original guard house stands in the Allied Museum in Berlin and a replica is in place as a tourist attraction. We made a special stop at the Holocaust Memorial, as my Grandfather was a victim of the Holocaust and I was allowed a few moments to reflect at this poignant memorial to remember him.

Lunch this afternoon was another highlight for me, at the beautiful Adlon Kempinski Hotel, which is opposite the Brandenburg Gate, the best location in Berlin. It is a hotel frequented by the rich and famous and is infamous for Michael Jackson's baby dangling from the balcony !

The highlight of our evening was the private drinks we enjoyed on the trendy roof top terrace overlooking Berlin ! We also had a fab informal dinner outside on the ground floor terrace hosted by the charming Monika from the hotel.

The following morning we were off to Potsdam , which is about 2 hours outside Berlin, where we visited the Sanssouci palace. This is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great who was the King of Prussia. It was built in 1747 at his request as he needed a palace to get away from the city in the summer. The name means “without worries” in French. It is a large single storey villa with 10 main rooms, each decorated very differently. There are amazing gardens and fountains and he is buried in a tomb overlooking the gardens he created.

Dinner this evening was at the Hotel Regent Berlin in the Fischers Fritz, 2 Michelin starred restaurant. The attention to detail and food was fantastic. We were also shown around the property which is located next to the Gendarmenmarkt next to the cathederal.

Sunday was unfortunately our last morning in Berlin and we visited the Museum Island. This is a group of different museums and we had entrance to the Neues Museum (New Museum). This museum was opened in 1859 and resored in 1985 and has one of the best Egyptian Collections in the world. The highlight of this collection is the bust of Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt and was a sight to behold. It is a shame no photography was allowed !

We then had a short while before we had to travel to Tegel airport for our BA flight home. We made the most of this time with a little retail therapy, although shops are not open in Berlin on Sundays as they are at home. No trip to Berlin is complete without sampling a Berlin “CurryWurst”, which we did at Tegel. Delicious !!

All too soon it was time to say “goodbye” to Berlin and return home. I had a fantastic time in a city I love, and would like to thank Hisham and Kirker Holidays and Mike for giving me this brilliant opportunity.