Sunday 23 July 2017

This is one of those holidays which has long been on the to do list – a variation on the usual Prague / Vienna / Budapest excursions as our first destination is the city of Berlin with onward travel being by rail.  Tour operator is Rail Discoveries – the secondary brand of Great Rail Journeys.

The taxi is with us at home at 05:15 for our journey to Heathrow T5.  We manage to avoid the long queue at Group check in as Jackie flashes her BA card and we are moved to a non-existent queue at Club check in (my BA membership has now dropped back to Blue status but thankfully they let me check in with her!).

We head through security and now we wait for the plane.  Breakfast is taken at Huxleys which is a new outlet (to us) I think.  Then downstairs for a wander through duty free, £20 saving on an iPad does not seem a huge amount, and trade in will provide a better net cost.  Even though we are at terminal 5 there is no opportunity to ride the shuttle service as we are going from an “A” gate.  I have still not been to the “C” gates.

We board the plane and as it is not full we are pleased to have three seats for the two of us so more comfortable than usual, greatly improved by the delivery of a glass of champagne each from the front of the plane courtesy of Angela and delivered by Mark.  Thank you very much BA.

On time arrival in Berlin then a wait for our luggage.  The coach loads and we are soon at the Alexander Park Inn and the sandwiches from Boots are consumed once we are in our room on the 24th floor as a late lunch.

The weather is much better than anticipated.  We descend to Alexandersplatz and walk under the adjacent railway line to the bottom of the TV tower which dominates the area.  We go a little further to see Neptune’s fountain, the town hall and the old but rebuilt church.  During this holiday we will be slightly restricted as Jackie is suffering from bad sciatica which is limiting the distances she can walk.  I will try not to mention it again.

The photos of this are here.

On our return to the hotel (Park Inn by Radisson) we head to the Panorama bar at the top of the building for a couple of drinks and to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.  Not an attractive space in itself – but then the building was originally a Soviet era accommodation for Comecon officials.  There was a very expensive refurbishment in 2001 to bring it up to modern standards  – we are deep in former East German Berlin.  However I can get some views of the obviously very flat city which stretches in all directions from this point.

We rejoin the group for buffet dinner in the main restaurant with an excellent selection of starters, the main course is slightly less inspired but the cheese selection was also excellent.  This was followed with a coffee in the ground floor bar (which had a very odd soft bed like “compartment” which we did not try) where we chat to some of the others on the tour.