Berlin is a city I have wanted to visit for a really long time, so it had a LOT to live up too. From the German Christmas markets, bursting with local food and live music to running through the Tiergarten at dusk. And from historic sites and monuments to modern shopping, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Running the Tiergarten (Approx 5 miles)
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s answer to New York’s Central Park, or London’s Hyde Park. It’s completely different and yet just as charming.
The Southern Side (0-1.5 miles)
A large proportion of the park is woodland and because I was running at dusk in December, it was deserted. The quietness gave it an eery sort of feel that makes your skin tingle slightly.
I spent the fist mile and a half I running along the Ahornsteig. It’s literal translation is ‘maple sidewalk’ and I’d bet it’s pretty beautiful during the Autumn months. To be honest, it wasn’t bad in December, just a bit chilly!
When you get about two thirds of the way down the Tiergarten, you glimpse the 67m tall victory column on your right hand side. It has a huge, gold angel perched the top which Berliners call ‘Golden Lizzie’. I’ve also heard it called ‘The Chick on the Stick’ which I find hilarious.
Bridges not Walls (1.5-3 miles)
At the bottom end of the park is a lake called the ‘Neuer See’ with a web of rivers meandering from it. I love water, there’s something so tranquil about it and lots of the pools here were covered in lilies and so pretty. There were also lots of really cute bridges to explore.
The best thing about running in a new city is that you never know what you’ll find. It’s such a great way to explore. I didn’t have a plan for this run and so I spent about 90% of it with no idea where I was, or how far I’d gone! It’s actually quite liberating and definitely makes you re-connect with a love of running rather then getting caught up in pace or distance. I always find I cover a surprising number of miles without feeling tired this way too.
The Northern Return (3-4.5 miles)
As you run back through the trees, you get glimpses of some of the most spectacular houses. I loved this one because it had such a warm, inviting christmassy feel in the cold December evening.
Shortly after this, and slightly lost, I ended up of the outskirts following the river for a while. One of the highlights here was watching a river cruiser trying to pull off what can only be described as a 6 point turn in the river! I don’t know what was going on, but everyone on board cheered when they headed back the way they’d come.
Cutting back into the park, I got to a junction of paths and as I turned to get my bearings, this tower was lurking behind me. At the time I had no idea what it was, but I’ve later discovered (shout out to Wikipedia!) that it’s a Carillon. Still none the wiser? I wasn’t either. Apparently a carillon is a musical instrument, specifically a set of bells played by a large keyboard. So basically, this tower is a 42m manually played concert instrument with 68 bells, weighing a total of 48 tonnes. Wowsers! Like I say, you never quite know what you’ll find!
Back to The Eastern End (4.5-5 miles)
For me, part of the attraction of Berlin is the fact that the city is steeped in history. I read a lot of historic fiction, particularly set around 1939-1945. Actually, as a by the by, during this trip I was reading ‘The One Man‘ by Andrew Gross, which I would thoroughly recommend despite the fact I had to shove my fist into my mouth on the airplane to stop myself sobbing!
Running back to the hotel, I stumbled across the soviet memorial to the Russian soldiers who lost their life during WW2. There’s something particularly striking about the imposing Reichstag (German Parliament) in the background and how the two now exist side by side. It really hit me as to how lucky we are to live in peacetime and not have to live every day in fear wondering whether it ill be our last.
Our hotel was right by the Brandenburg Gait, a stunning location. So, running back underneath it was a pretty spectacular way to finish my 5 miles.
The Adlon Kempinski Hotel
I don’t usually comment too much on the hotels, but I can’t help myself on this one. It is hands down my favourite hotel that I have ever stayed in. Every single thing about it was perfect. The entrance was beautiful, especially at Christmas with the tree glittering in lights. The lobby bar was wonderfully buzzing and yet calm, and some evenings there was even a pianist playing the grand piano. Staff were friendly and the spa was a great place to unwind.
It’s one of the most famous hotels in Europe for many reasons, but these are my personal favourites:
Interesting fact no: 1
Despite looking original and holding the title of the oldest hotel in Berlin, a lot of the interior is actually new. The hotel survived the WW2 bombings reasonably unscathed. Then, in the closing weeks of the war the hotel was accidentally burnt to the ground by drunken red army soldiers having a tipple in the cellar. It was rebuilt in the 1950’s in it’s original art deco style. The elephant water feature in the lobby bar is particularly famous
Interesting fact no: 2
It’s the hotel where Michael Jackson famously dangled his baby out of the window!
I don’t even know where to start with breakfast. To be honest, it probably warrants a blog post all of it’s own! Anything you can possibly think of was there. You could have stayed for a month and had something different every single day. I spent the first morning just wandering around in breakfast heaven trying to plan how I could take full advantage of trying as much as possible! One of my favourites was yoghurt (from a choice of about 10 varieties!), fruits and a matcha and almond crunchy granola topping with a green smoothie (again from a huge selection) and cappuccino. Actual breakfast heaven!
Post Run Treats
Anyone visiting Berlin should check out Raush. It was recommended to me by a friend, and aside from some pretty amazing models made entirely from chocolate, the cafe upstairs does one of the best hot chocolate and cake selections. After a freezing cold run, I can tell you these went down an absolute treat. And yes, I bought souvenirs to take home!
Berlin certainly lived up to the hype. The city is a mix of stark concrete soviet influence and vibrant, arty, modern life. The Christmas markets were a highlight, crammed full of delicious smells, live music and festive spirit (often literally!) Gendarmenmarkt, outside the Konzerthaus, was our favourite.
So, I think all that is left to say, is:
Danke Berlin, du warst grossartig!