Decorative Underground Stations U2 line
During my travels around Berlin I have made extensive use of the excellent public transport system. Because of where I have stayed I have used the U2 line the most. It is a fascinating line with main line stations like Alexanderplatz that connects to the whole system though the station is spread out with lots of stairs. Potsdamerplatz with its modern buildings and again it connects to various parts of the system. Some of stations are modern with good facilities and other can best be described as tired. Two unusual stations are at Mohrenstrasse the walls are lined with facing stone taken from Hitler’s Reich Chancellery when it was destroyed. At Klosterstrasse the station has walls lined with tiles that depict the history of Berlin’s Transport system and includes an old tram at one end of the station. There are murals on other lines such as U5 Magdalenenstraße Station.
I had heard about the new Hauptbahnhof and decided to break my journey and give the station a visit. First some statistics, it is the largest crossing and two level station in Europe. The glass platform roof is 400 metres long and contains 11,800 glass panes each weighing 100kgs each. The station has 14 platforms on 2 different levels with some 1,100 passing through each day. Unfortunately the station will not be connected to the rest of the U-Bahn system. My first impression of this huge station is, its so clean, sterile and being so huge easy to get lost. Its more like being in a shopping mall with its numerous shops and restaurants than a railway station, As I stood on the platform waiting for my S-Bahn train a ICE train pulled into the station. On the next platform was a train going to Russia, the carriages looked about 50 years old, I’m not sure if it was surpose to look like the Orient Express or it was just old carriages.
If you fancy something different and feel lazy you should try one of the numerous boat trips that ply the rivers and lakes around Berlin. Most sell food & drink onboard whilst you look at the city from a different angle. It’s a great opportunity to take photos and a commetary may be provide though probably only in German.
Hi-Flyer tethered helium balloon
I first spotted the Berlin Hi-Flyer from the roof of the Reichstag and thought it similar to the tethered balloon I had seen in Budapest. I later saw it more close up when I went to Wilhelmstrasse but it was not flying on that day because of weather conditions. This is one of the largest helium balloons in the world that carrys you in a gondola 150 metres above the ground giving uninterrupted views of the city. It can carry up to 30 people at a time and the normal adult fare is 19.90 euros though there are reduced tickets.
The Balloon is sited at the corner Wilhelmstraße and Zimmerstraße.
I thought the public transport system in Berlin was going to be complicated but its simple compared to London. I found the ticket machine at Schoenefeld Airport and after few goes managed to get the choice of ticket I required. Most visitors only require a ticket for zones A & B but if you want to visit some of the sights out of town such as Potsdam you will need zone C as well. The machines I used only took notes up to 20 euros. Having obtained the required ticket you need to validate it when you first use it. On the buses you enter via the front door and show the ticket to the driver, this is not required for the trams where the driver is locked in the cab. In 2 weeks I saw the ticket inspectors strike 4 times. They are not just men in their 20’s who look the business, who are inspectors, I also saw a groups of men and women in their 50’s & 20’s checking tickets, so be warned they accept no excuses. At the smaller S Bahn Stations you can have trains on different routes on the same lines and the indicators boards do not always work. At the larger stations you may have to check for the correct platform. The underground is easier and with a more frequent service but sometimes the train does not go to the end of the line, so always check. As the different underground lines tend to run in different tunnels you sometimes have to walk some distance when changing trains. On the upside is an easy system once you get use to it, with a fast frequent service and in 2 weeks I can say it never felt like you were packed in like a sardine, seats being available more often than not.
Schonefeld Airport-Public Transport
If you are not very good with the ticket machines there is a shop in the main airport which sells tickets. As you exit the custom hall in terminal A into the main concourse, turn right along the concourse and there are 2 desks which sell tickets plus a ticket machine. The ticket machines are easy to use if you want simple single or1 day tickets but as I discovered if you want a 7 day ticket it is not easy to work the machine even with the help of rail staff. If you wait to purchase a ticket at the railway station the queues are always long below the platforms but the machines on the platforms are usually available.. As you leave the airport, if you want a bus go to the right (also buses going to Rudow U Bahn) if you want a train go to the left and follow the covered walkway. I usually look up the trains and times on the internet before I arrive so I know what to use. I look up what trains are available on the information boards as I walk to the station and then know what platform to go to. If you decide to catch the Airport Express into town, remember this is an ordinary service and not a special train these are usually the RE7 or RB14. There are also S Bahn trains that run from the station but you have to change trains to go to the centre. I always use the BVG website as it is easy to use and is updated for any interruptions,
This are my first photos of Berlin, made from the inside of the shuttle on a way from the airport to the city. I landed at the airport of Schonefeld, which is smaller and used to be the East Berlin airport. It takes about 30 minutes by the shuttle to reach the town centre, crossing East Berlin roads which aren't traffic busy. Since it was very cloudy day the first impression about Berlin wasn't positive at all.
The pictures aren't clear because I took them through the glass window of the taxi.
On my recent trip to Berlin I was with 2 friends. We bought a group ticket for public transportation, it costs 16.2 euro for zone AB which covers all your main attractions. We went to Potsdam for a day and for that you need to buy a ticket for zone ABC which cost us 16.7 euro for a group ticket. The ticket is a 24hr ticket ans is for a group of up to 5 people and all means of public transportation.
Buses from Tegel Airport
I have never travelled in or out of Tegel Airport but as it is due to close sometime in the future I decided to pay a visit and check on public transport from the airport. For any first time visitor to Berlin it may seem daunting to take a bus but it is a lot cheaper than a €30 taxi ride and fairly easy. There are 4 bus routes from the airport and these are all located outside Terminals A & B. There is no train station at the airport and the only long distance coach travels to Dresden. If you check out the BVG website below, before you leave home, and enter your start and finish this will inform you of which bus to take to start with and where to change. After you leave the airside of the airport and enter one of the concourses follow the bus signs on the green/yellow information boards. At the main exit to Terminal A there is an information desk and next to it is a BVG ticket desk. There are 3 travel zones in Berlin and for most travellers you will only need a ticket for zones A & B which costs €2.60 for a one way 2 hour journey. The ticket covers all forms of public transport. I would advise you to check out the various options on the BVG website such as the City Tour Card, Welcome Card, day tickets or weekly ticket and which zones you require. The BVG ticket desk can advise you if you are not sure. If you are more confident there are also ticket machines outside the terminal. Above the ticket desk there is an indicator of when the next four buses are due and which stand they leave from.
You enter the bus via the front and show the driver your ticket. Please remember to validate your ticket. You leave via the doors in the middle of the bus. Most buses have an indicator and an announcement of the next stop. Now for the 4 different bus routes.
TXL travels to S & U Alexandraplatz via S Beusselstrasse, S & U Hauptbahnhof and S & U Brandenburger Tor.
X9 travels to S+U Zoologischer Garten via S+U Jungfernheide
109 travels to S+U Zoologischer Garten via U Jakob-Kaiser-Platz and S+U Jungfernheide
128 travels to U Osloer Strasse via U Kurz-Schuhmacher Platz and U Franz-Neumann-Platz
Ferry on Lake Wannsee
I have been on a boat trip in Berlin before but it was one of those tourist ones travelling along the Spree. This time I decided to use one which is included in the public transport ticket. There are 6 different routes but only 3 run during the winter months. I caught the F10 which runs between Wannsee and Alt Kladow and the A B zone tickets covers you without any extra cost. I had heard the ferries are quiet during the winter months, this is not always true as I found out. The one I caught had a party of young school children who were keenly tucking into their lunches. It is a 20 minute journey 1 way ot 1 hour for a round trip. I only went one way and caught the #135 bus to Spandau for some lunch. You can of course have a look around Alt Kladow and return on the ferry later to Wannsee. The is a nice form of transport which would be wonderful on a warm sunny day.
- Sailing and Boating
Walking in Berlin
If you wish to walk in Berlin and just to walk, it is possible, but center is quite spread out, so it will simply take more of your time. Let’s say, if you want ti walk from Cathedral to Berlin ZOO, it is already bigger distance, I used public transportation for this distance. Some buildings or more famous places better reachable by public transportation, to mention Spandau, Kreuzberg districts, Charllotenburg palace, Olympic stadium.
Anyway, if you want to see just Berlin – essential and live in central area, just walking is still possible.
7 days ticket AB
Already before coming to Berlin I knew that some Berlin‘s must see places are more or less away from center, also I have found one host, who lived about 15-20 minutes from centre by public transportation. I decided to buy 7 days ticket, the price was around 27 Euros. I was good decision, as I used it everywhere I wanted in A and B zones. For C zone (for Potsdam) I needed another one ticket.
It was easier to visit Berlin ZOO, Spandau district, Olympic Stadium, so on. I used it also for buses 100 and 200 to do sightseeing around.
Transportation to Potsdam
I have had 7 days ticket for Berlin, but only A and B zones. For Potsdam, that is more far away, I needed C zone ticket, the price was 3 euros. I needed to take bahn from Berlin Central Railway Station to Potsdam station, it was a journey of around 30 minutes.
Bus Vilnius - Berlin - Vilnius
As I already used to night journeys, I took a night bus from Vilnius to Berlin. Actually it moved from Vilnius at around 3PM and stopped in Berlin in early morning. Actually it was the first opening ride from Vilnius to Berlin with a company called Simple Express. It is pity I got just normal price tickets, both ways – around 79 Euros. The special price discount price is actually only 3 Euros one way!
Bus that was used to go back to Vilnius was more comfortable, with GPS working, also games, music, movies on the small screens, but you needed to rent headphones from company.
Transportation to Dresden
Thanks to VT member german_eagle I got to know nice company Berlin Bus Linen with nice discounts to go to different places in Germany from Berlin, also to some neighbor countries, as Denmark, Netherlands or France.
So, I got a ticket Berlin – Dresden – Berlin for only 18 Euros, the time was fixed and ticket not refundable if you don’t use it. I reserved it maybe 1 month before my trip.
I took a ride Berlin – Dresden with a nice old man, who was explaining some facts about Dresden (it was his hometown), I am happy to understand a bit, as it was in German :)
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