This is the really time to visit this European destination from the Windy City. There are now nonstop flights offered from Chicago on Germany’s second largest airline airberlin.
Without a first class, business class was a treat to experience with perks like massage seats that flatten out for complete relaxation. It was much like having your own private room with many of the comforts of home. The time literally flew by. I found myself trying to stay awake not to miss anything from champagne toasts (just say Prost) to a gourmet menu.
Upon landing it was a short trip to downtown Berlin. This is the largest city in Germany and the capital. It is full of museums and contains over 1,000 events to choose from every day. Art collections, food festivals and theaters are just the beginning.
While there are many in the world, The Intercontinental contains one of the best pools and spas in Berlin. The rooms use darker decor making them look very modern with bright views of the city.
Head out on the town starting at The Brandenburg Gate, actually a former city gate rebuilt in the late 18th century. What a photo op spot it makes today.
Just down the street is the Berlin Zoological Garden the most visited zoo in Europe with about three million people stopping by every year. Close to 20,000 species of animals makes the high price worth it for a chance to gawk at them.
Nightlife is a major part of visiting Berlin. Begin the night singing with the sports crowd at Tucholsky or visit the newly opened Hamburger Mary’s attached to the LGBT AXEL Hotel for specialty drinks and kitsch.
Look for a furry covered lounge to mix and mingle at Heile Welt or only a block away two for one drinks are offered at Tom’s Bar. Tourists will be transported back in time with a strict door policy and darkroom in the back. Watch your wallet and use common sense while having a good time in the neighborhood.
Public transportation was a snap in the city with the Berlin WelcomeCard and can be used for discounts with 200 partners. This made traveling easy and affordable to the diverse neighborhoods in the area.
While traveling to different areas in Germany each region had its own character and charm, such as Dresden near the Czech border.
For starters the boutique Innside Dresden has 180 modern sleek rooms making it a must stop. Upstairs Twist bar mixes up custom made cocktails complete with a nice view. Ven, the in house restaurant had some of the best food of the entire trip. The breakfast buffet brilliantly served churros alongside chocolate covered pancakes making dessert a part of starting off the day. Many hotels offered wellness rooms where travelers may just lay down on a lounge chair in their robe and listen to soothing tunes. Saunas and exercise rooms came standard with many hotels but were never taken for granted after walking all day.
Dresden, known for music and opera, will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birthplace of Richard Strauss in 2014. This is a strong area for dance performance and plans are afoot for special art collections for next year including one covering Egypt.
Take a peek into the Historic Green Vault that has an interesting mechanism to keep jewelry thieves from running out the door or if you are hungry head to Sophienkeller, there’s even a carousel inside the restaurant to accompany traditional heavy German food.
There is a night walk tour where spectators can take a behind the scenes look at the artist community then sample drinks that are popular with the locals in the nearby 140 bars and pubs.
Close by is Cologne offering an incredible gay nightlife that surrounding towns cannot rival. It has a 2,000-year history making it the oldest major city in Germany. There are 12 cathedrals right in the center of the city.
Take boat ride on the Rhine and stop at The Chocolate Museum or the Farina Fragrance Museum for the samples alone. You will learn how cocoa grows or leave smelling like a rose.
The Cologne Pride festival kicks up its heels in July with countless events and street parties.
The Hilton Dusseldorf is a fine place to stay even if it is a little off the beaten path or just hop over to the Breidenbacher Hof in the Konigsallee district. This five star hotel is where many celebrities stay when they are in town including Beyonce and Pink, who cooked a thanksgiving turkey in their kitchen while on tour.
Walk outside the door to shopping in every direction. From upscale retail stores to resale shops there is something for everyone. This shopping district almost had an H&M on every corner. Look for Gucci, Burberry, and Chanel.
If the is out of your price range then get a piece of the past by visiting The Alstadt or Old Town section of the city. There are microbrews for the sipping and art collections for the viewing while in the part of town.
A trip to Aachen showed us the inside of the cathedral where Charlemagne resided. The narrow streets led to the best gingerbread in Germany along with creatively sculpted fountains in this quaint neck of the woods. Even in the smaller towns locals seemed to have no trouble with English as long as you speak slowly and have patience.
It was difficult to say auf Wiedersehen but it was finally time to leave. American Airlines flew us home on only the third direct flight ever from Dusseldorf to Chicago. The staff and service were both top notch making the jet lag manageable after a quick nap in the reclining seats.
A week later my system got used to the five-hour time change back to Central time but the memories will never be left behind.
With direct flights, historic sights, and hearty bites, a return trip sounds right!
For more information on planning your next adventure to Germany check out www.visitBerlin.com.