was a real eye-opener for Jules Lund. He didn't quite expect it to have so many quirky things. The beer bike
and the amazingly popular curry wurst
are certainly different. The other thing he didn't expect was to find that Berlin
has more bridges than Venice
has 1291 more bridges.
The River Spree winds through Germany's largest city for 180km. Berlin has a controversial history, a fascinating contemporary art scene and is the capital of Europe's strongest economy. It's a city known for its culture, politics, media and science.
Until 20 years ago, under the communist rule of East Germany, the River Spree was a no-go zone. It divided the city into communist east and democratic west. Now visitors can take it all in from that very river.
One of the best ways to do it is on Rüdiger Michael's Spree-Shuttle Solarboat. The river is a hub of activity with lots of cruise and leisure boats, but Rüdiger offers an intimate and eco-friendly experience. Solar panels charge batteries giving a pleasantly quite outing.
The 10m craft carries an average of five passengers on two-, three- and four-hour journeys, taking in sights such as the former border area with the longest lasting piece of the original Berlin wall, river locks, the oldest parts of the city, Museum Island and new skyscrapers.
It is chilling to see the Reichstag, where Adolf Hitler's troops famously stormed in and overthrew the government.
Museum Island may be a place you want to spend time after your cruise. The Altes Museum was completed on the orders of Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1830. Neues Museum was opened in 1859, destroyed during World War II and rebuilt for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and re-opened in 2009.
Alte Nationalgalerie was completed in 1876 and hosts an impressive collection of 19th-century art. The Bode Museum opened in 1904 exhibiting sculpture collections and late antique and Byzantine art. The Pergamon Museum was constructed in 1930 and has immense and significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate of Babylon. In 1999 the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
Tours are more popular during milder months April to October and if you fancy a cooling dip, don't even think about entering the Spree. It's way too polluted. However, there's always the Badeschiff, a bathing ship. The floating public pool is in the East Harbour and offers safe and clean swimming. It's one of the city's hot spots.
Food and drink are not included on the Spree-Shuttle, but you are welcome to take your own refreshments.
Berlin in north-east Germany.
Spree-shuttle two-hour tours start at around $53 per person for an hour between Monday and Thursday and $119 from Friday to Sunday.
Emirates has flights to Munich and 26 other European destinations via Dubai from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Connections to Berlin are available. For an exclusive Getaway viewers’ discount, log on to www.emirates.com/getaway
Prices correct at August 6, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
Lausitzer Straße 36
Ph: +49 30611 8001
German National Tourist Office
Visas: Australians require valid passports to enter Germany, but return tickets and visas are not required.
Electricity: Germany operates on 230V at 50Hz with two round pins.
Time zone: GMT +1.
Currency: The euro.
International dialling code: +49.