Day 1 - Monday, September 25:
Evening departure from Toronto with Air Canada Rouge direct. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Tuesday, September 26:
Morning arrival at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. A panoramic tour en-route of selected sights of former East Berlin, such as the Karl-Marx Avenue, and 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
). Hotel registration at Kempinski Bristol, situated in the pulsating heart of the city, on the legendary Kurfuerstendamm Avenue, Berlin’s answer to the Champs Elysées or Fifth Avenue, and the elegant and interesting Fasanenstrasse - in the heart of what used to be “West Berlin,” close to the Zoo Railway Station and the Emperor William Memorial Church. Light lunch and time to refresh before an introductory walk along the lively “Ku’damm” with its elegant shops, hotels, restaurants, and interesting sights from the Emperor William Memorial Church to the KaDeWe department store. Dinner in house.
Day 3 - Wednesday, September 27:
This morning after breakfast, you will receive a pass for unlimited use on the city’s excellent public transportation system, including the efficient subway, the 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 - burned down at the time of the Nazi takeover and heavily damaged during the war; recently renovated in its entirety and now features an unique glass cupola created by the famous architect Sir Norman Foster. On via the Soviet War Memorial to the Brandenburg Gate, as emblematic of Berlin as the Eiffel Tower is to 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 Kempinsky Adlon Hotel, “sister” of the Kempinsky Bristol. 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 dinner of Berliner specialties in a typical restaurant.
Day 4 - Thursday, September 28:
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 quixotic 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 may soon be rebuilt. 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.
Day 5 - Friday, September 29:
On Friday morning you will receive a 3-day Museum Pass, to be used during the next three days for visits to as many as 50 museums and monuments - many of which offer audio-systems with English explanation. Following 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, and we recommend starting with the superb Pergamon Museum - fabulous not only on account of its great Hellenistic Pergamon Altar but also Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. At leisure, the recently reopened New Museum just next door, whose Egyptian Collection includes the world-famous Bust of Nefertiti, Queen to the enigmatic Pharaoh Akhenaton! The Island features three additional superb museums, which you may want to visit later on Tuesday or perhaps on Wednesday or Thursday: the Old Museum, with its superb collection of Greco-Roman antiquities; Old National Gallery, featuring 19thcentury art, including French impressionists; and the Bode Museum, highlighting Byzantine and Renaissance art. (For more information on these museums, see http://www.museumsportal-berlin.de/en
Day 6 - Saturday, September 30:
On Friday morning you will receive a 3-day Museum Pass, to be used during the next three days for visits to as many as 50 museums and monuments - many of which offer audio-systems with English explanation. Following 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, and we recommend starting with the superb Pergamon Museum - fabulous not only on account of its great Hellenistic Pergamon Altar but also Babylon’s Ishtar Gate. At leisure, the recently reopened New Museum just next door, whose Egyptian Collection includes the world-famous Bust of Nefertiti, Queen to the enigmatic Pharaoh Akhenaton! The Island features three additional superb museums, which you may want to visit later on Tuesday or perhaps on Wednesday or Thursday: the Old Museum, with its superb collection of Greco-Roman antiquities; Old National Gallery, featuring 19thcentury art, including French impressionists; and the Bode Museum, highlighting Byzantine and Renaissance art. (For more information on these museums, see http://www.museumsportal-berlin.de/en)
Day 7 - Sunday, October 01:
On Sunday morning after breakfast, off to the Kulturforum, the city's western cultural hub of 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 virtually every style and period. In the afternoon option to return to the museums of the Museum Island, or simply continue just next door to the New National Gallery, an architectural creation of Mies van der Rohe, bursting with 20thcentury 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…
Day 8 - Monday, October 02:
This morning we resume our exploration of Berlin, with a bus ride to Potsdamer Platz. Before the war this was the busiest intersection in Europe, but post 1945, a bombed- out wasteland bisected by die Mauer. Revived in the 1990s' it became 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 still present Air Ministry, as to, 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 chic shops and department stores, we reach the trendy historic Gendarmenmarkt, a magnificent square featuring 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...rest of the day at leisure.
Day 9 - Tuesday, October 03:
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 Schloss Sanssouci, the Versailles like palace of King Frederick the Great, as well as the Cecilienhof Villa, site of the 1945 Potsdam Conference. Time for lunch before crossing the notorious Glienicke Bridge of cold war spy exchange fame; the resort of Wannsee with memories of the infamous January 1942 conference where Himmler outlined Hitler’s Holocaust plans; and a walk through the 1936 Olympic Stadium site before returning to our hotel.
Day 10 - Wednesday, October 04:
After breakfast, we leave the city for an hour coach transfer to Lübbenau and the Spreewald, a protected UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1991. Here the River Spree meanders in thousands of small waterways through meadow and forest. A guided water tour on one of the traditional barges not only provides an intimate look at many old, traditional farmhouses set in an autumn landscape but also the area's lush vegetation. Like the gondolas of Venice, the ferrymen punt the barges quietly along the waterways as they explain the nature and culture of the Spreewald. Our group lunch today may have an unusual setting before we return to our hotel. Evening at leisure.
Day 11 - Thursday, October 05:
The day set aside for Gardens of the World Berlin / IGA Berlin 2017, the spectacular exposition of international garden design and green urban lifestyle landscaping. With the motto, OCEANS OF COLOUR, its focus is contemporary garden design and landscape architecture, natural experiences, green urban spaces and multifaceted cultures all set in more than one square kilometer. Along with ‘Gardens of the World’ traditionally inspired landscapes, forecasting garden designs and spectacular IGA structures are prominent. The IGA Berlin 2017 is a source of ideas and inspiration, a place of learning and experimentation, a platform for intercultural dialogue and a laboratory for innovation. Beyond the diverse horticultural exhibitions, the state-owned Grün Berlin GmbH is using the IGA Berlin 2017 to initiate pioneering projects and showcase exhibits on sustainable lifestyles. The IGA Berlin 2017 is one of the cities, and indeed, one of Europe's most important urban development projects of the new millennium. An option also - 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. This evening...Auf Wiedersehen...dinner in a typical restaurant.
Day 12 - Friday, October 06:
Morning transfer following breakfast to the airport and direct return flight to Toronto. Lunch and snack served before afternoon arrival at Pearson International Airport.