Breathtaking Berlin

"Tristan" - Twixt Christmas & New Year

RIG & WS - Oxfordshire

Dear Andrew,

A tremendous trip to Berlin thank you.

Journey over was easy, plane delayed but Gatwick and Berlin Airport plus bag pickup ran smoothly. The driver of Lindow Transfer and Shuttle was waiting at the exit with a grand smile and whisked us away quickly to the Hotel Residenz.

Hotel was delightful, in a delightful street. Hotel was very welcoming. Room was warm and very comfortably furnished with great hanging space, settee, armchairs, comfortable beds, hospitality tray and excellent bathroom with bath. We had upgraded to a larger room with bath and this was well worth it (although we did not see a standard room).

The first day (afternoon) we turned left out of the hotel along the interesting buildings of  the   Meineke Strasse and then left again into the Kurfurstendamm, a wonderful wide avenue full of intriguing fashion shops, boutiques, banks etc and happy and relaxed  local shoppers. Tea and pastries  in the marvellous Kaffee Reinhardt and local chatter  introduced us to Berlin. We wandered on up the street through a fascinating bustling colourful Christmas Market and into the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtnis Kirche (Memorial Church). A display explained the devastation of World War 2, we left very thoughtful.

Across the road we squeezed into small benches in a stall on the side of the road  and drank  hot mulled wine with happy chatter and smiling faces (again we were pleased to be with locals). A very happy afternoon, the location of the hotel is superb.

In the evening, just along the street from the hotel we found an Argentinean Steak house (Sueno), obviously a great favourite with Berliners. An excellent steak at an attractive table, candle and attentive smiling waiters. We were ready for bed, very happy and content.

The next morning after an excellent  breakfast (delicious hot and cold buffet) we purchased a ticket for the City Line (yellow) ‘hop on and hop off’  bus in the Kurfurstendamm  (a small yellow van near the bus stop van sells the tickets and gives you earphones). We were the first on the first bus that morning – to be recommended. Commentary was great and we had the guide book which had been thoughtfully placed in your pouch (thank you) to supplement the tour. We alighted at the cathedral to ‘feel and observe’, then walked across the river admiring the ornate bridge and River Spree and entered Unter den Linden. The first coffee shop on the right was a most delightful cosy refreshment stop and again only German was heard  (coffee, apple cake, plum cake).

We sauntered on down the Unter den Linden, a truly magnificent avenue, admiring the wonderful buildings with the Brandenburg Gate appearing in the distance. At the Gate we turned left to the Reichstag, then retraced our steps back up the Unter den Linden for the bus. We continued on the tour, enjoying the commentary.

The evening was grand. Staatsoper im Schiller, small theatre but delightful. Opera [Tristan] amazing! Excellent seats, 3rd row of the stalls. Subtitles were in German but the opera was easy to follow especially as you had included a synopsis which we had studied before the performance. Music under Barenboim’s  baton – superb! Singing and acting superb, especially Rene Pape’s booming melodic bass-baritone voice and Waltraud Meier’s wonderful singing and emotional acting, her last performance of Isolde in Berlin. Standing ovations and cheers – many, many!!! Taxi rank was  outside and we were soon whisked back to the hotel Residenz through the gleaming lights of Berlin (fare 6 Euro). The hotel prepared a light delicious supper for us from a local restaurant.

The next day we woke to snow, how magical the streets of Berlin looked. We braved the underground (easy) and leapt over the mounds of snow to a furniture shop we had wanted to visit. Delightful place, very helpful and welcoming assistants and beautiful panoramic view across Berlin from the 11th floor. Again coffee and pastry before we left!

We packed and spent a while before leaving,  in the bar of the hotel, amongst the beautiful Art Nouveau of the elegant reception rooms. The best Rose wine (German) we have ever had and basket of excellent bread and cheeses with grapes, we would recommend not missing time spent in the hotel reception rooms

The journey home was easy, delayed, but we were comfortable and warm.

Recommendations? – very difficult as the trip was exceptionally well organised – you had thought of everything. The basic organisation gave us time to explore on our own and so thoroughly enjoy Berlin. And we did not feel like tourists.

We were pleased that we had taken one large suitcase. We like to ‘dress up’ for an opera.

Upstairs in the Schiller Theatre was a large bar with drinks, coffee and great canapes, tables and comfortable chairs. Well worth ordering before the performance; and upstairs bar to be recommended. The kiosks downstairs were well stocked but small and had long queues.

We cannot praise the hotel enough for its hospitality, friendliness nor its location.

We cannot praise Opera in Style enough for the organisation! Timing of flights was excellent, documents well presented in the grey pouch, excellent choice of a comfortable friendly and intriguing hotel in excellent location. Amazing seats for an amazing opera in a grand theatre.

Neither of us had been to Berlin before.  Berlin December 2014 - A happy and very enjoyable trip we will remember always, great memories! Thank you.

2015-01-11