September 2020: Berlin (Part 1)

Ku’damm / Zoo area

May as well start with where we were based! We were delighted to spend our four-night stay at the brand-new Hampton by Hilton Berlin City West, located a short walk from Zoo Station on Uhlandstraße. The name ‘Hampton by Hilton’ is derived from the long established ‘Hampton Inn’ brand in the USA; European Hamptons have been around for a few years now and from outset were a noticeable improvement on their American cousins. This particular property took the concept further upmarket and started to blur distinctions with other Hilton brands such as DoubleTree and Garden Inn. Although our room overlooked a busy rail line and building site, there was no perceptible noise at all when the windows were closed. I genuinely looked forward to my included breakfast every day, which in true Germanic style concentrated on attractive bread rolls presented with a selection of cold meats, cheeses and boiled eggs.

The pictures start with the hotel and quickly move on to an assortment of views taken in the local area.


No short break in Berlin is complete without a visit to Kaufhaus des Westens, far better known as KaDeWe. Situated just west of Wittenbergplatz, it is the city’s most iconic – and utterly fabulous! – department store. The food hall, as ever, was a ‘must-see’.


Spandau is Berlin’s westernmost district. I noticed the name during my first visit to the then-divided city in 1982, and immediately linked it with the UK pop band Spandau Ballet. Fast-forward nearly 40 years, and tourist information on the Internet suggested that while modern Spandau was largely industrial in nature, the district contained an interesting Old Town and a striking 16th-century Citadel. We decided to investigate. Sadly, neither highlight lived up to expectations: the Old Town was badly affected by extensive roadworks and reconstruction, while the citadel was operating a heavily restricted tours programme, but at least was available for simply strolling around.

Gendarmenmarkt to the German Parliament

Seeing new aspects of a favourite destination is all very well, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting more familiar sights. With this in mind, we found ourselves enjoying a refreshment in the Gendarmenmarkt one late afternoon, following which we walked along the celebrated Unter den Linden and through the Brandenburg Gate to the German Parliament. Every time I casually stroll through the Brandenburg Gate these days, my memory returns to that first visit in 1982, when the famous structure was isolated and unreachable, in the death strip immediately behind the Berlin Wall.