All good hotels tend to lead people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily do at home.
Not a frequent business flyer, I stay at good hotels, say, four or five times a year. When I do, I really appreciate my time in the luxury of my surroundings. If those surroundings are in an appealing place, especially one I haven’t previously visited, I feel a frisson of pleasurable anticipation accompanied by a little niggle. With its situation near (almost in) the city’s largest park, Tiergarten, the Intercontinental Berlin offers such pleasurable anticipation in spades!
Posted by Janice Leong on Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Therein lies that niggle. How can I fully enjoy my five star digs and get a taste of this world-class city? I won’t sleep, that’s it. But then I’d miss the sensation of that huge bed, those crisp sheets, and voluptuous pillows. OK, I’ll squeeze in a good sleep, taste the city, and explore the hotel’s amenities. Jet lag? Not in my vocabulary. Besides the time difference is a mere six hours – NOT a problem. The exhilaration of my first visit to Germany and the appeal of my surroundings will power me through any annoying sleepiness or sleeplessness.
Challenge accepted! Lass uns gehen!
A 3 pm check-in suits me fine as I arrive from Singapore via Doha. Bags and room assignment efficiently taken care of, I repair to my nest of comfort epitomized. That bed! Those pillows! No, not yet, Ms. Wanderlust. You have promises to keep, a hotel to explore, and a city to taste. Just looking out my window gives me energy. I shall walk. But first, an hour or so spent recovering from the long air journey with a dip in the indoor pool followed by the soothing heat of the Wellness Spa (open 24 hrs.). Tha accomplished, mind and body feeling deep down wellness, I’m ready for a snack at the Marlene (think Dietrich) restaurant. With its dark wood and subdued, bookish ambience, this small restaurant offers a quiet nook for a light lunch. My librarian friend, John, MUST come here someday. Having read advice on Trip Advisor, I ordered just one hamburger. Smart idea. The sandwich was huge, easily satisfying myself and a friend. German beer on tap from the nearby bar was the perfect complement.
Pretzel and champagne to kickstart the morning.
Fed, bathed, I’m ready for a few hours of hard-core touristing. First I turn my heels toward that sea of green glimpsed from my room. Walking along the southern edge of Tiergarten, I’m met with the kind of sunny vibe only experienced when northern Europe basks in the delight of warm weather after a long winter. Sidewalk eateries abound both in and just outside of the park. With just 24 hours in Berlin, I suppose I should be rushing madly from site to site, but I’ve chosen rather to take my time, see a few iconic sites, watch people, and reflect on the remarkable circumstances that have placed me here in a city I’ve always wanted to visit on a splendid spring day in BERLIN!
My walk takes me through the Mitte area to Potsdamer Platz along Leipziger Straße.
This is guidebook Berlin, not to be missed by even the most jaded first-time tourist. I’m headed for that icon of “the bad old days,” Checkpoint Charlie, the erstwhile gate between East and West Berlin. Few places are so steeped in Cold War myth like the Checkpoint. It not only was the choke-point between city districts, it was the dot on the map that symbolized two ideologies vying for nothing less than world domination. Now, the tiny guard hut still stands with uniformed guards only too happy to provide photo-ops galore. “Gotta see it,” said my friends. “Glad I did,” say I.
A two-minute walk takes me to a place of far, far less significance. The German Currywurst Museum. If you don’t know what currywurst is – and heaven knows, I didn’t – it’s THE fast food of Berlin. A pork sausage steamed and fried slathered with curry ketchup, curry powder, and assorted condiments. “Gotta try it,” said my friends. “Good, not great,” say I. The museum, though is a tongue-in-cheek peek at local culture and attitudes in the post-war world of Berlin. It is assuredly NOT a must-see, yet one of those serendipitous ventures that sticks in my mind sometimes more so than the grand sites. Honesty, I’m happy I took the time for this small wonder.
After a brisk walk back to the Intercontinental, I feel my companion, Ms. Jet-lag, catching up with this traveler feeling less intrepid by the minute. With just enough energy to hit the pool and spa one more time, I take my sauna-limp self to the waiting wonders of my beautiful room and surrender myself to the arms of Morpheus and dive into those aforementioned sheets and pillows. I’ll be up early-ish for the breakfast buffet in the L.A. Cafe and another foray into this amazing city. Until then, I wish myself a pleasant repose in this magnificently situated and superbly presented five-star retreat IN BERLIN!
Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.