By Utrip CEO Gilad Berenstein
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Europe many times and found it easy to fall in love with Barcelona, Florence and Paris, the usual suspects. For some reason though, Berlin never made it to the top of my favorite cities list.
[ezcol_1half]I was honored to be invited to speak at Virtuoso’s Symposium, an annual gathering of ultra-luxury travel VIPs including agents, hotel executives and travel luminaries. In the past, it has been held in Sydney, Buenos Aires, St. Petersburg, and other alluring destinations. I eagerly agreed to attend before even knowing this year’s venue – Berlin. Although excited for the opportunity, I was not excited for the thunderous weather nor my preconceived notions of German food (nothing to write home about).[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]
When I landed, I was surprised to see it was a gorgeous, sunny day. Driving into the city from Tagel airport, many recognizable landmarks began to appear.
My first dinner was at KPM, a historic institution which has been handcrafting porcelain china for hundreds of years. This was my first view into the unique mix of historic and modern that typifies Berlin.
[ezcol_1third]KPM was established in 1763 as the official china manufacturer of German royalty. The historic section is full of china patterns that I had seen in palaces and villas across Europe. We had the chance to walk into a studio and see a craftswoman creating porcelain by hand, as they have done for centuries. Later we went upstairs to their beautiful shop. It is filled with traditional and modern designs. Walking through the main aisle, a Bugatti logo made of porcelain began to appear. Up close, the masterpiece is stunning.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]
Crafting decorative parts for one of the world’s finest cars, this famous shop is clearly still in fashion.
The evening concluded with a spectacular meal served on—you probably already guessed—pristine handmade china.
The following afternoon a friend and I took a stroll by the River Spree while visiting the East Side Gallery. The history of this sprawling artwork is quite unique and quite Berlin. The political statements which live on through images of modern art and depictions of historical figures are a Must See in Berlin. Between the wall and the river, and in the surrounding neighborhoods, Berliner ‘punks’ enjoy the sun, German beer, and far too many cigarettes. Here again, through the juxtaposition of art and locals, one experiences the unique mix of historic and modern, which is now redefining Berlin.
Driving through Berlin, you’ll notice that the skyline is littered with construction cranes, renovating the old and creating the new.
I continued to experience Berlin in unique and meaningful ways. Among them was a riverboat lunch cruise, a tour of the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin’s Jewish History Museum (the third most-visited museum in Berlin). We had the pleasure of a private lunch at KaDeWe, the largest department store in continental Europe, with an entire floor dedicated to dining.
The incredible experiences continued as we began to wrap up this unforgettable trip. The wonderful folks at Visit Berlin treated us to a very rare experience—a fireworks show over the Brandenburg Gate. The following night we enjoyed a private dinner held at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. No longer operational, this airport was used by the United States as a supply channel for West Berlin after the Wall went up.
On my final day in the city I had the pleasure of simply wandering the streets. I drank some truly delicious beer, ate far too much sausage and schnitzel, and met and mingled with locals along the way.
From the moment I landed in Berlin, its specialness was on display. Even the airport was exceedingly efficient. As each day unfolded, I became more enchanted with the city. With its plentiful culture, food and beer, Berlin has now made it to the top of my favorite cities list. As it should for everyone who visits this amazing place.
A Wonderful Reason to Plan a Trip to Berlin this Fall
The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago. On November 9th at 8 pm, a well-deserved celebration will be held to recognize the amazing progress this historic city has made in such a short period of time. 10,000 illuminated balloons will soar above the entirety of the former Wall and decorate the night sky.