We left on the 8:17am morning train for the Berlin Transfer by Train tour. The train trip takes about 2.5 to 3 hours and you arrive a Lichenberg Station. From there you get a coach transfer to Potsdamer Platz. That was, of course, for everyone else. Us being the experienced travelers (NOT) and having zero knowledge of the German language decided to talk our guide into letting us off the train at an earlier stop. After spending 2.5 hours in a private sitting cabin with three French ladies who did a remarkable job pretending not to speak English we exited the private train at the Berlin-Lichtenberg station. This proved to be very disastrous as we had misread our map and now found ourselves in a suburban area about 15 miles outside of the actual center of Berlin. Ooops! It was an interesting way to start our day…
After visiting a store and procuring lip gloss, and Leslee losing her glasses we eventually made our way back to the Train Station where we were dropped off. We got in a long line and waited and the next thing we knew I was being yelled at profusely in German for??? Turns out I was standing in front of the automatic door, thus keeping it open. Apparently a train station no no.
After a while we made it to the front of the line to communicate that we really needed to get a train ticket to Berlin. It turns out it was the wrong line. The agent pointed us to another counter in the station. Luckily for us there was only a small line there and the agent at this counter spoke enough English to complete our transaction.
After about a 20 minute additional ride we finally arrived in Berlin (whew!) crises averted. But now obviously we had less time to complete our to-do list.
We initially started at Checkpoint Charlie which was known to be the best Berlin Wall crossing point between the East and West. After about a 15 minute walk we came to the Berlin Wall Memorial. This memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it which also includes the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum.
Afterwards we caught the Berlin U-Bahn (or metro) which we learned was divided into two distinctive parts due to the previous separation of the East and West. We headed to the Mehringdamm station due south of our previous destination and again in the surrounding suburbs. We had read about these exquisite patio displays in a region but after about one and a half hours of walking around we were never able to find the actual place shown on our map. We eventually gave in and decided to drown our sorrows at the Steineckes Heidebrot Backstube bakery at Mehringdamm 25.
Tired and confused we headed back to Central Berlin with many miles under our feet. We walked around this large city a bit but everything was far away from the previous thing. We ran across a bike taxi and talked the young gentlemen into giving us a ride to the The Reichstag Building when seconds later a young girl showed up. His girlfriend it turned out and she needed him right now. He apologized and off we were walking yet again.
Eventually we reached the Reichstag Building and we relaxed (or collapsed) on the lawn with many others. Before too long however, the day was getting short and it was time to get back to the rendezvous point for our return to Warnemunde. Unfortunately for us we made it a nearby train station only to find that there were a multitude of tracks and we had no idea which platform we needed. As luck would have it a German policeman saw that we were in distress and took us to a lady at the currency exchange who spoke some English. She was able to direct us to the correct platform and we were off and on our way.
We learned a valuable lesson on this excursion. Be careful what you sign up for, especially if you do not speak the language. Many of the words and streets in Germany look or sound the same. It becomes confusing. We definitely would have been better off to stick with an established guided tour in this instance.
Cruise Port: Berlin (Warnemuede), Germany
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Lines
Cruise Ship: Norwegian Sun
Tour Name: Berlin Transfer by Train
Tour Operator: ELS – European Land Excursion Services
Steps logged: unknown