Summer in Berlin: Riverboats on the Spree…
People are drawn outdoors by the warm sunshine.
Cafés and parks in the city are full… even occasionally too full according to some.
The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s most popular landmark is pretty crowded, too. Almost normal… and still, this year, everything is different.
The corona crisis has changed the world – and our lives including tourism.
After lockdown and travel restrictions brought Berlin to a standstill earlier this year, visitors are slowly starting to trickle back in. But kind of experience are they in for? Today, we’ll find out. After the city was essentially closed to visitors for a couple of weeks, a sense of normality is slowly returning to Berlin. After the lockdown, people seem to want to travel again. I don’t mind wearing a mask. And even if it’s not mandatory to wear them outdoors in Germany: I believe we need to look out for each other! Berlin in the middle of a global pandemic.
Very simple: we come from Hamburg, we’ve parked our kids with Grandma and Grandpa for 48 hours, and Berlin’s within easy reach. We wanted to see something. We are from the Czech Republik. We are here just for a day, just for like 8 hours. What are you planning to see? Everything, really. We’re just going to see the Brandenburg Gate, then maybe to Kurfürstendamm and the Reichstag. We’ve just had a look around the city center.
Now, we’d like to take in a few sights, maybe take a trip on the Spree tomorrow.
What has your experience been like so far?
Does it feel weird? It’s emptier than I’ve seen it otherwise — quite a bit more relaxed when you walk around outside.
On the other hand, it’s a little annoying with the face masks, when you go in somewhere. But that’s how it has to be. I know it’s a little bit dangerous but we thought that there would be fewer people and that we would be careful. So, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.
Apparently, most of the tourists are just here for a short trip. I’ll move on to Alexanderplatz. I want to take the opportunity and visit this impressive building: the TV tower. Due to social distancing rules, only a reduced number of visitors are allowed to enter these days, So it won’t be too crowded at the top. The TV tower was inaugurated in 1969. A prestigious project for GDR leaders and – to this day – Germany’s highest building. The interior is listed for preservation.
In only 40 seconds, I rise to 203 meters. And then… I’ve got the whole world… well… Berlin at least, at my feet. The newly rebuilt Berlin Palace… the Reichstag… and the Cathedral. I could stand here and look for hours. And we’ll go even higher.
At 207 Meters, there’s a restaurant. The best part: the entire room rotates — a full 360° every 30 minutes. I’m behind one of these windows! From my coffee in the clouds, I cross over to the nearby Museum Island, another of Berlin’s tourist highlights. I’ve arranged to meet with Christian Tänzler of Visit Berlin, the city’s tourism organization. Mr. Tänzler, what’s open right now in Berlin — and what’s not?
A very good thing to visit at the moment would be the museums.
The restaurants are open again, too. And the hotels are ready to open. What’s not on yet are larger events. All the trade-fair activity is still on hold, and other events are, of course, very, very limited. Are tourists coming to Berlin or is there still some hesitance? There are far fewer visitors. We’re at a level between ten and twenty percent of what we had this time last year. But they’re coming — mainly from within Germany because there still aren’t many flights. Many of them come by car, so they’re completely different types of people. What would be your tip for a perfect summer day in Berlin? I would hop on a bicycle in the morning and take a nice bike tour. It’s easier to do that now.
Firstly, we have less traffic than usual, and secondly, we’ve got pop-up or temporary bike trails, but I hope they’ll stay. They offer a very relaxed kind of ride, especially for people who aren’t used to riding bikes. We have lots of parks and gardens and great bike trails you can use.
Around noon, I’d be sitting in a beer garden. The proprietors have had some fantastic ideas, and the Senate’s been very generous about allowing tables on the sidewalks. In the afternoon, I’d go to a museum, and in the evening, I’d most like to take in a movie at the Kulturforum and enjoy the panorama of the illuminated Potsdamer Platz. Sounds like a lovely day.
Not all the museums have reopened yet, and for those that have, visitors may have to buy tickets in advance for a certain time slot. I’ll stroll a while longer among the history-rich buildings of the Museum Island, which, by the way, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Now, I’ve got to go meet my co-workers Oli and Emily. They’ve just come from the Baltic Sea island of Rügen. They’re trainees at Deutsche Welle, and right now, they’re traveling in a camper. You’ve been on the road for DW for two weeks now, driving across Germany. They tell us a little about their project. Exactly. They started out on Rügen. Now, They‘re in Berlin. From here, They head to Saxon Switzerland, then Bamberg, then on to Munich, and They end up at Neuschwanstein Castle. The idea is simply to show how you can vacation in Germany during the corona pandemic. And what’s it been like for you too?
A totally carefree trip, or do you always have corona in the back of your head? I’d say it does cross your mind now and then, especially when you’re strolling along the boardwalk on Rügen, and suddenly, it starts raining, and all the people crowd together under the flap of an ice cream stand. — so close together.
You wonder if that’s such a good idea. Where our viewers can catch up with you is on our DW Travel Instagram account and on Facebook.
I thought when you got to my town, I’d show you the water because Berlin has a lot of it. Do you want to come along? Shall we explore Berlin’s waterways? Sure Alright then, let’s go! Treptow Park has a paddle-boat and kayak rental right on the Spree. We each take a one-person kayak. No worries about distancing here. And we cast off. It seems like half the city’s out on the water today.
On rafts… in boats… or ships… and other interesting types of small craft. We paddle towards the city center… … as far as a famous sculpture, called the Molecule Man. It’s thirty meters tall. Ready, get set, go! We have a little boat race. And Emily’s the clear winner. The Oberbaum Bridge connecting the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg neighborhoods is a good place to wind up my corona-summer day in Berlin.
Sometimes, Berlin makes it hard to believe that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. The city’s unique spirit remains unchanged.
Despite the restrictions, Berlin has so much to offer, that I assure you, you won’t get bored. I hope you’ve found some inspiration for your next trip or at least got to calm your wanderlust a bit. No matter where you are or go, take good care of yourself and those around you.
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