This year, Leipzig celebrates its 1000th anniversary. Just a little over an hour from Berlin, this Saxon city is a favorite destination for a day excursion. What will you find? A modern city with a lovingly restored Old Town. Come during the Bach Festival and experience Bach music, maybe sung by the famous Thomaner Choir, in the original church where Bach used to work.
Have lunch in Auerbach’s Keller, one of Germany’s oldest restaurants, made famous by Goethe who used to come here a lot during his studies in Leipzig. Visit the monumental Memorial to one of history’s most important battles, Napoleon’s defeat against the combined Prussian, Austrian, and Russian troups.
If you want to get tickets for one of the many events surrounding this special annivesary, visit the following page (or, if you can’t read German, ask us for help): http://www.leipzig-im.de/index.php?section=redaktion&thema=Leipzig-2015-Jubilaeum-1000-Jahre-Leipzig#
Vacationing on the island of Rügen (in the Baltic Sea) is a thing many Berliners love to do. It’s about three hours by car and there are long, sandy beaches, gigantic chalk cliffs, luxury hotels, and quaint little villages. In winter time, you can go on long walks and enjoy the fresh air. But there is also a very bizarre thing left from the 30s. In those years, the Nazis came up with a program called “Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy) which was based on the idea that workers would produce more if they went on a fun-little vacation with their families every now and then. So work was started on a gigantic building program. In Prora on the island of Rügen, the resort they started building directly on a beautiful beach stretched over a mile and would have offered rooms for thousands of vacationers. The project was never quite finished, and some of the finished buildings were later demolished, but parts were used by them and later by the East-German People’s Army. These buildings you can see and marvel at the craziness of this bizarre project. You will find a museum and documentation center and also a little café. Definitely worth a trip!
An old train depot from 1899 is the perfect setting for the Classic Remise in Berlin: A place vintage car lovers will love. Love isn’t the word, actually. This is car lovers’ heaven! There are cars from before the war, the sixties and the seventies, from England and the US, from France and Italy, and of course from Germany. All lovingly restored, and for sale! There are also shops, specialty dealers, model cars, accessories, stalls for privately owned cars, and there is a restaurant. All this only a few kilometers from Berlin’s Main Station. If you love vintage cars, then you have to check out the Classic Remise next time you’re in Berlin!
Here is an interesting event taking place in Berlin from July 27 to August 5, 2015: The European Maccabi Games, a kind of mini-olympic games in which Jewish athletes from all over the world will compete in 20 different sports. Over 2000 athletes are expected, age 14 to over 35! In addition to traditional disciplines, there will also be chess, ten pin bowling, and beach volleyball.
Obviously, this kind of event cannot take place in Berlin without remembering the Olympic Games of 1936 in which German Jews were not allowed to participate. The Jewish communities of Germany which host this event are looking forward to welcoming participants from all parts of the world, in the spirit of unity and peace. There will also be a Parade of Nations, speeches, and an artistic program. So if you are planning to be in Berlin this summer, check out the program: http://www.emg2015.de/en/
The Bikini House, just opposite the Memorial Church, West Berlin’s famous landmark, was built in the 1950s. The architectural design was daring: the base and the top of the building were separated by an open passageway which resembled a “waist”, hence the name “Bikinihaus”. Even when the middle floor was closed in the 70s, the building kept its name. Last year, this landmark building was completely renovated and reopened. In the few months since its opening, it has turned into a major tourist attraction. There are great stores, cafés and food places, and – in winter – also a small ice skating ring on the top floor. The best thing: you have a great view into the adjacent Zoo! Either from the top floor which is an open mini-park, or from the ground floor with its huge window-front. Also, the shopping mall concept is very unique: there are wooden stalls which can be rented by independent boutique-owners for a few months at a time, so there is always something new and original on display!
From time to time I like to try out Berlin hotels. Even though I have had clients from every 4 and 5 star hotel in Berlin, it’s always better to see for yourself. So last weekend I spent a night at the Park Inn. For the longest time, it was East Berlin’s highest building (not counting the TV tower next to it), overlooking Alexanderplatz and all of East Berlin. On the top 40th floor, they have a panorama platform which unfortunately was closed when I was there due to strong winds. The hotel has been remodeled, luckily, but the rooms are still small – especially the bathrooms (I wouldn’t even call it a room, it’s a glass box with the shower inside, and a separate toilet closet). The prices are okay, and the restaurants are certainly acceptable. If that was all there is to say about the hotel, I would say: there are much nicer hotels in Berlin. But there is one exceptional feature: the view! If you get a room on a top floor, facing West, then you can overlook the whole city, it’s really breathtaking!
For New Years I went to the Erzgebirge to enjoy snowy mountains and tranquility. But being so close to Dresden (50 minutes from snowy hill tops to downtown Dresden), I took the opportunity to see an opera at the famous Semper Opera House. Before the performance, we went to eat at Le Bistro Francais (great French food!) and strolled through the Old Town which looked very pretty in the snow. Then we took our seats in the beautiful Opera House and enjoyed a great performance of La Bohème. When you plan your visit to Dresden, don’t forget to get tickets!