The booming capital of reunified Germany and one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting cities, Berlin is definitely “worth the journey”, as the locals proudly like to say, especially in the spring. Berlin features spectacular architecture, absolutely fabulous museums (such as the Pergamon Museum), fascinating history, superb music, and unexpectedly good food. This surprisingly inexpensive metropolis will be explored on foot, by bus and by subway from our base in one of the city’s finest hotels, the 5-star/deluxe Bristol, situated in the pulsating heart of the city, on the legendary Kurfuerstendamm Avenue. This tour is limited to 20 participants, able and willing to walk quite a bit, and will be escorted by historian and Germany-expert Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD, author of ‘The Myth of the Good War,’ ‘The Great Class War 1914-1918,’ and ‘Big Business and Hitler,’ all published recently by James Lorimer, Toronto.
Evening departure from Toronto on Air Canada’s non-stop flight to Berlin. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Mid-morning arrival at Berlin Tegel Airport. A private coach will be waiting to take us on a leisurely panoramic tour, focusing on former East Berlin, with major squares and avenues such as Alexanderplatz and Karl-Marx Avenue; the East Side Gallery, a collection of about 100 works of art painted directly on a preserved section of the Berlin Wall (www.eastsidegallery-berlin.com); and the huge Soviet War Memorial in Treptow Park. Around noon, arrival at the five-star/deluxe Hotel Bristol, ideally situated in the heart of what used to be “West Berlin,” right on the Kurfürstendamm Boulevard. Check in, and free time to settle in and get some rest; you may want to try out the hotel’s indoor pool, spa, and/or fitness club, facilities free of charge to guests; complimentary wifi is available in the rooms. In late afternoon, short introductory walk along the lively “Ku’damm” with its elegant shops, hotels, restaurants, and interesting sights such as the Emperor William Memorial Church, followed by dinner in one of the restaurants of our hotel.
This morning, after a generous buffet breakfast, you will receive a pass for unlimited use on the city’s excellent public transportation system, including the efficient subway, the so-called U-Bahn.
We start today’s program with a bus ride and leisurely walk through the huge Tiergarten Park, with sights such as the Victory Column (Siegessäule), Bellevue Palace, residence of the German president, the House of World Cultures, the Chancellor’s Office, and the Reichstag, the German Parliament; that imposing edifice was burned down at the time of the Nazi takeover and heavily damaged during the war; renovated in its entirety, the Reichstag now features an amazing glass cupola created by the famous architect Sir Norman Foster. On to the Brandenburg Gate, as emblematic of Berlin as the Eiffel Tower is of Paris. We end our walking tour at Paris Square, featuring famous buildings such as the French and US Embassies, the DZ-Bank (designed by Frank Gehry), and the prestigious historic Adlon Hotel. One can return from here to the hotel by line bus, or stay for lunch in the area and visit the nearby Holocaust Memorial, virtually sitting on top of the underground bunker in which Hitler committed suicide! This evening before dinner of Berliner specialities, you are invited to attend Jaccques' lecture on the history of Germany in general and Berlin in particular.
We continue our exploration of this great city with a bus ride back to Paris Square. From here we cross into former East Berlin and stroll along the elegant Unter den Linden Boulevard past the monumental Russian Embassy to the city’s historical heart, bursting with important sights: Humboldt University; the equestrian statue of Frederick the Great; the unusual memorial of the Nazi book burnings; the venerable old State Opera; the New Guardhouse (Neue Wache) with the moving war memorial designed by Käthe Kollwitz; the Arsenal (Zeughaus), now a museum of German history; the huge Lutheran Cathedral; the Pleasure Garden (Lustgarten); and Palace Square, where the former imperial palace is supposed to be rebuilt, etc. On to the statue of Marx and Engels, the charming old Nicolai District, and Berlin’s old “Red City Hall.” We finish at Alexander Platz, the heart of former East Berlin, and its 365-meter high TV-Tower. From here we return to our hotel via the S-Bahn, the excellent above-ground municipal and suburban railway system.
Morning excursion to the Prussian town of Potsdam, situated in an idyllic setting of forests and lakes on former East-German territory. Here we visit the Versailles-style palace of King Frederick the Great, Schloss Sanssouci, as well as the Cecilienhof villa, site of the 1945 Potsdam Conference. Group lunch in Potsdam. (For more information on Potsdam, see www.potsdam-tourism.com) Return to our hotel in Berlin via the notorious Glienicke Bridge, where captured spies used to be exchanged; the resort of Wannsee with its memories of the infamous conference of January 1942, where Himmler outlined Hitler’s plans for the Holocaust; and the Olympic Stadium, venue of the 1936 Olympics. Afternoon at leisure. Today, group lunch in Potsdam OR dinner in Berlin.
This morning we resume our exploration of Berlin, starting with a bus ride to Potsdamer Platz. Before the war this was the busiest intersection in Europe, but after 1945 it became a bombed-out wasteland bisected by die Mauer...The neighbourhood was revived in the 1990s as a dazzling complex of shops, restaurants, and the headquarters of Sony and other global corporations, featuring ultra-modern architecture by the likes of Renzo Piano. From here we stroll to the Wilhelmstrasse, once the nerve centre of Nazi power with buildings such as Göring’s Air Ministry, which is still there; so are the ruins of the infamous Gestapo headquarters and prisons. On via a preserved piece of the Berlin Wall to Checkpoint Charlie, where tourists used to cross the Berlin franchise of the Iron Curtain. Nostalgic for the bad old days of the Cold War? Visit the museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie! Continuing along the revived Friedrichstrasse, with its very high-end shops and department stores, we reach the trendy historic Gendarmenmarkt, a magnificent square featuring monuments such as the Berlin Konzerthaus with the statue of the poet Friedrich Schiller. You may want to stay in this attractive district for lunch and further exploration of this attractive district, enjoy a boat tour on the Spree River, or return by subway or bus to “West Berlin” in order to check out the fabulous department store KaDeWe, where the food section is claimed to be the world’s finest. This evening, we attend a classical music concert, perhaps in the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Hall.
On Wednesdaymorning you will receive a 3-day Museum Pass, to be used during the next three days for visits to as many as 30 museums and monuments! (Many of these offer audio-systems, with explanation also in English.) After a general introduction to the Berlin museum scene, we travel by bus or subway to the so-called “Museum Island” in the historical city centre, “Berlin Mitte.” The greatest stars of the Berlin museums are concentrated here, including the fabulous Pergamon Museum, fabulous not only on account of the great Hellenistic Pergamon Altar but also other amazing monuments such as Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. (Please note that, on account of ongoing renovations, the hall containing the Pergamon Altar itself will still be closed to the public, but the wings with the other treasures, including the Ishtar Gate and the collection of Islamic Art, remain open to the public.) Another favourite is the New Museum, whose Egyptian Collection includes the world-famous Bust of Nefertiti, queen of the enigmatic Pharaoh Akhenaton! The Island features three more superb museums, which you may want to visit later: the Old Museum, which has a superb collection of Greco-Roman antiquities; the Old National Gallery, featuring 19th-century art, including French impressionists; and the Bode Museum, highlighting Byzantine and Renaissance art. (For more information on the museum pass, see
This morning your guide will escort you to the Kulturforum, the cultural hub of the western part of the city, with prestigious institutions such as the new Berlin Philharmonie, the State Library, and - our objective this morning – the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin’s world-famous Picture Gallery, which features paintings from just about every style and period. Our visit may also include an opportunity to take an exclusive look at some famous lithographs and sketches by the likes of Dürer, Brueghel, and Rembrandt! For lunch we recommend the Picture Gallery’s excellent cafeteria. In the afternoon you may want to return to the museums of the Museum Island, or you can simply continue just next door to the New National Gallery, an architectural creation of Mies van der Rohe, bursting with 20th-century works of art by German and international artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, George Grosz, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Juan Gris Emil Nolde. Henry Moore, Alexander Calder
On Friday morning your guide will lead the way to the suburb of Charlottenburg for visits to the small but exquisite Berggruen Picasso Collection and the Bröhan Museum of Jugendstil(Art Nouveau) decorative art. Afterwards you may want to cross the street and enjoy a stroll through the beautiful gardens of Charlottenburg Palace. On these three days you may of course also simply do your own thing and visit any of the 50 museums covered by your museum pass at your leisure, such as such as the German Museum of Technology, the Jewish Museum (with Daniel Liebeskind’s fabulous architecture), or the Käthe Kollwitz Museum near our hotel. There will also be an opportunity to enjoy a grandiose show in the style of Cirque-du-Soleil at the impressive Friedrichstadt Palace Theatre; the price of this optionwill be approximately $80 Canadian. Tickets may also be available for operas and classical music concerts; more information about this will be made available in due course.
Your last day in Berlin is entirely at leisure, except for this evening’s Auf Wiedersehen dinner in a typical restaurant.
After breakfast, transfer to Tegel Airport and non-stop return flight to Toronto with Air Canada, departing around noon and arriving at 3PM.
- Return Air Canada flight from Toronto to Berlin, including all airport taxes, fuel surcharges, and security fees; - Accommodation in the centrally located five-star/first-class Hotel Bristol, based on double occupancy. The supplement for single use of a double room is $685; - Airport transfers; - Meals: a delicious buffet breakfast daily and a total of four full-course dinners or lunch; - Sightseeing, visits, concert, and excursions as indicated in the itinerary, including admissions; - Hotel taxes and gratuities.
- All expenses of a personal nature; - Meals other than those mentioned above; - Beverages with dinners; - Travel insurance available on an individual basis. Please call for rates.
March 05 - 14, 2020
Land only: $3,345.
March 31 - April 04, 2020
$1,575 CAD taxes included based on double occupancy
April 14 - 27, 2020
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy