Germany had a record six weeks of sunshine and not a spot of rain. Until I arrived. By the time work wrapped up and my sister arrived for the weekend the rain was coming down in buckets. Let’s face it, downpours are downright depressing, so if you’re stuck in one in Berlin and want to find something cheap and cheerful, here are my top three suggestions:
3. Go up the Reichstagg
As long as there’s good visibility the stunning House of Parliament is a must see – mostly thanks to its glass cupola.
Designed by Norman Foster the cupola offers a fantastic bird’s eye city view and lets you peer down into the main hall to watch the political debates. How’s that for transparent democracy? Best of all – it’s free! Queues are a given but it’s quietest early morning or late evening.
2. Visit a museum or art gallery
Take your pick. Berlin’s got so many museums they’ve got one district called Museum Island. Galleries and museums run the gamut from Egyptian relics to a DDR museum where you can wander through a reconstructed East German style home. Many museums are free and if there is an admission fee it’s quite reasonable, averaging about €5.
Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum and Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial are moving tributes to the history of the Jewish Community in Germany. Their striking designs are a testament to architecture’s ability to open wounds and help us to remember the darkest moments of history.
1. Soak up the cafe culture in East Berlin
Get off at Eberswalde Strasse U-bahn station and indulge. Fancy a fresh mint tea, latte macchiato, German chocolate cake or apfel strudel? Or how about a Berlin special: Weisse beer flavoured with a dash of raspberry or rhubarb syrup? Look no further than the artsy cafes where trendy students and hip young things study with their Macs in tow or just chill out.
This is a haven from the downpour but should also be taken full advantage of in the summer when the cafes, restaurants and pubs spill onto the wide boulevards. I recommend arriving in the afternoon and staying all night. Warning: depending on your drinking pace, this can get quite expensive, but beer in Germany is cheaper than in the UK and Canada – and so are the gyros to fill you up at the end of the night.