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Berlin in Winter

After recently visiting Berlin, and loving it, Steph couldn’t wait to share herexperience with you all!

Ideal for European Incentive trips, flights to Berlin run from the majority of UK airports with a convenient flight time of on average under 2 hours, and subject to only a one hour time difference.

Berlin is a great destination, brimming at the seams with history, culture and plenty to keep you occupied from sunrise to *ahem* sunrise!  Renowned for its nightlife, this city has something for everyone, and if it is your scene then its 24/7 nightclubs could be just the thing for you! For the less hard-core, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and attractions to fill your evenings with.

A walking tour is a great way to both see and hear about the sights and the history behind them, but be sure to pack some comfy shoes as this lasts approx. 4 hours. A visit to the dome at the Reichstag is highly recommended, but please note that this requires pre-booking via http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/kupp.html but is well worth the effort as it offers amazing 360° views of the city. The list of sightseeing attractions is endless, but if you are on a short break make sure that you get to visit the top historical sites such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz to name just a few. The ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ is a particularly poignant reference to the darker side of Germany’s history, and is symbolic and moving, as are the memorials to the other minority groups persecuted in the Holocaust, the ‘Memorial to the Homosexuals’ and ‘Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe’.

Berlin is packed to the rafters with Christmas markets, and the festive atmosphere is infectious. German specialities such as Currywurst, and stands selling Glühwein can be found on almost every street corner, as well as a whole host of other traditional temptations.  Personally I felt that the most authentic markets were located at Charlottenburg Palace, complete with a jazz band and carol singers, and I would recommend visiting this market in the evening, as the Palace and all of the festive ‘huts‘  illuminated look amazing and really creates a magical feel!

For a spot of Christmas shopping, if you are feeling generous, then the Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), a Berlin institution, is the place for you! The largest department store in continental Europe, I felt like a child in a candy store… that is until I saw the price tags! For those on a lower budget in Kurfürstendamm, there are plenty of high street as well as designer temptations on offer and it is a lively mecca for shoppers.  Friedrichstrasse is another great upmarket area for shopping, with plenty of high end designer boutiques to entice you (and your wallet!).

I always try and seek out the ‘hidden gems’ wherever I visit, and Berlin was no exception. I had heard of a restaurant and bar/club called Cookies Cream prior to my trip, and had read some great reviews of this secretive restaurant, and it didn’t disappoint! Located down a nondescript alleyway, past the trash cans, and up a concrete staircase, with not a soul in sight, stood a lone chandelier and a buzzer – all very James Bond! Once we had been buzzed in, we were welcomed into a jam-packed restaurant and served 3 courses of the best vegetarian food I have ever tasted! Fine dining with a twist! The equally as secretive candlelit bar and club has a great selection of cocktails on offer and provides for a great nightcap!

Located in the Mitte district of Berlin, the unique uber cool Liquidrom Spa was my other hidden gem, and proved a welcome respite from hectic pace of the city and the bitter temperatures for a few hours. With a variety of sauna and steam room experiences on offer, along with an outdoor thermal springs Jacuzzi, and a great restaurant, this spa is definitely worth a visit. The highlight for me was the liquidrom itself, a large neon-lit domed thermal pool that you can float in, playing relaxation music playing underwater. On a Friday evening the pool is bathed in candlelight, and the pool is regularly host to live performances of sitar, harp, jazz and guitar music.

There is so much to see and do in Berlin that I have merely scratched the surface! But hopefully I have convinced you that it is well worth a visit.

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