A Shore Excursion from Warnemünde Cruise Port to Berlin
I love to take sophisticated clients on private sightseeing tours to Berlin, Potsdam or Dresden as their driver guide. But what I consider the very special highlights are definitely shore excursions to Berlin for Baltic Sea Cruise guests who are on a discovery tour. On days like that my services as a private chauffeur and driver guide merge in a very satisfying way.
At about 5 am, I pull out of the garage. The city and the autobahn alike are still empty at this time of day and it’s simply a pleasure to ease into the day in such a comfortable vehicle. Shortly before arriving at the pier in Warnemünde or Rostock, I can already see the cruise ships from afar. A sense of anticipation arises as I wonder what kind of guests I will be spending the day with. I fill up the car and have a bite to eat at the last gas station before the cruise ship terminal.
Once I’ve arrived at the pier, I attach the name board with the names of my passengers to the windshield and watch as the first cruise ship passengers disembark and head toward the limousines, minivans and buses that await them.
At one point then, I come face to face with my guests. After briefly welcoming them we’re already seated and begin our Berlin-bound journey. Usually I start fielding questions from my guests after just a few kilometers. They’re interested to know whether I was born in Berlin and what life was like in the divided city. Of course, they also want to know if there is a speed limit on the stretch to Berlin. And almost always, they ask me to “lead foot” it a bit so that they can feel what it’s like to glide along the autobahn at 130 mph!
By the time we get to Berlin, we’ve already talked a great deal about my city and I’ve learned a lot about my guests. Our tour begins at the Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament. I store a lot of photos on my iPad to illustrate my explanations. Indeed, a picture says a thousand words. Passing Bellevue Castle and Victory Column as we head toward Brandenburg Gate, we also cross the line where the Berlin Wall used to stand. A special highlight near Brandenburg Gate is the new subway line that also features a series of fabulous photos documenting the history of Brandenburg Gate. In my opinion, this is the best possible way to introduce the history of Berlin.
Driving along the famous Unter den Linden boulevard, we head to the Museum Island via the former Jewish Quarter and past the former Stalinallee, the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie and the splendid exhibition “Topography of Terror” at the exact location of the former Gestapo headquarters. We leave the car frequently to get a better look at the sights and so that I can give my guests additional background information. What follows is Potsdamer Platz, Leipziger Platz and, finally, Berlin’s most beautiful square – the Gendarmenmarkt.
Then it’s time for lunch. Almost all of my guests are interested in enjoying a delicious German meal and I happen to know a few really nice restaurants where we can eat al fresco when the weather is nice and engage in a bit of people watching. Among the most popular menu selections are Wiener Schnitzel, German sausages and sauerkraut and, in May and June, seasonal, locally-sourced asparagus. A nice German beer or glass of Riesling are the perfect accompaniment.
After lunch, West Berlin beckons: Kreuzberg district, Tempelhof Airfield, Rathaus Schöneberg (where JFK gave his famous speech), Kurfürstendamm, Track 17, the Olympic Stadium and Charlottenburg Castle, where one of my colleagues will already be awaiting us so he can bring my guests safely back to the cruise ship. Before beginning the return trip, we often stop at a little brewery to enjoy a local on-premise-brewed beer.
The sights that I mentioned are, of course, only some of the countless sights on our way. The sequence of the sights may also change. Before we set off on a tour, I always ask my guests if they are interested in something in particular, or if we should do a specially-themed tour, for example, “WW II, the Cold War and the Berlin Wall” or “Jewish Berlin”. Some of my guests want to schedule a bit of time for shopping or for a coffee stop on the Kurfürstendamm. There’s no end to the many sights you can see and experience in Berlin and I love it that each tour is different.
I hope that I was able to spark your interest in joining me for a completely private shore excursion to Berlin!