Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fhooey on this… Let’s go to Berlin

The presentation of our framed Gift Card with signatures

So… that’s what we did.

Judith and I would like to give everyone a heartfelt thank you for this wonderful gift.
(For those of you who may be reading this and don’t know, our gracious friends gave Judith and me a wonderful gift for our combined birthdays – Four Days in Berlin)

The trip to Berlin was 7 to 10 October, and we had a fantastic time. Here is a recap of the trip and a few pictures.
(BTW, I guess we should also thank Air Berlin for not cancelling our flights to Berlin and back from Berlin.)

Day one:
We left Nürnberg Airport mid morning and were greeted in Berlin an hour or so later by our Limo Driver, who whisked us off to the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Mitte of Berlin.

Waiting for our flight to Berlin

Our Limo to the Radisson Blu Hotel
The lobby at the Radisson features a huuuge round Fish Tank - 25 meters tall and 11 meters in diameter. The hotel is actually within the Aqua Dom. The elevators are glass and provide a view of the fish tank on the way up and down.

One Large Fish Tank

Here's a short video from the elevator.


After getting settled in the room, we took a short walk, and then a bit later we had dinner with Andreas Bermann, who lives close to our hotel.

Day two:
We decided that we would try to only use public transportation, so first order of business was to buy discounted City Metro Tickets that are good for seven days. This worked out to be quite convenient and saved a few Euros.

We hopped on a bus and headed for brunch at Trofeo, which is located within The Classic Remise, a center for vintage autos and motorcycles. We were treated to an especially enjoyable Brunch, along with a live Jazz Band.

Following brunch we toured through the vintage autos and motorcycles. It is an impressive collection of autos and motorcycles. Here is a tiny sample.

We were back on the bus around 13:00 and then changed to the S-Bahn, where we headed to Jannowitzbrücke and an afternoon Cruise on Spree and Landwehrcanal. The tour is about 3.5 - 4 hours, passing under more than 40 bridges, many of which are so low you better stay seated if your on the outside top deck.

Route of the Cruise on Spree and Landwehrcanal

The cruise is a pleasant way to see parts of Berlin you might miss if you are in a car, bus or walking.

Our cruise ended around 18:00. We made our way to the S-Bahn again, this time to head to another quarter in Berlin for dinner with an old family friend of Judith’s. After a nice home cooked dinner, some wine and catching up we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel.

Day Three:
On day three, we had a 12:00 appointment at the BMW Motorrad Factory for a private tour. But first, we met Andreas again at Hachescher Markt for breakfast. Finding something open for breakfast in the early morning in the Mitte is a bit of a challenge. Most of the restaurants do not open until late morning, when the life starts to move. We somehow managed however.

After a somewhat long and relaxing breakfast, we said our good-byes, and located an S-Bahn for the first leg of the journey. Next we changed to a bus to get to the Spandau section of Berlin for our tour at BMW.

The tour was really a private tour – just Judith and I. Our tour guide was fantastic (and I am sorry, but I have forgotten his name). Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed within the factory, so so I only took a few pictures from outside of the factory. Since there was only the two of us we were able to see a few areas that a normal tour group would not venture in to.

Our Tour Guide
Visitor Waiting Area

As you can imagine, the factory is very modern, with state of the art manufacturing tools, machines and systems. It seems the factory is continuously updating tooling and systems with new and more efficient equipment that comes from both outside suppliers, as well as conceived, developed and built in house. The workforce is cross-trained in all of the various processes of manufacturing and periodically rotate responsibilities to keep work life more interesting.

The oldest building in the factory complex was built in 1913, but not as a BMW factory. Sometime in the late 1920’s Siemens took over the facility and started to build aircraft engines under the BMW name. BMW acquired Bramo in 1939 and continued with aircraft engine manufacturing under the Bramo name. In 1949 Motorrad parts manufacturing were now underway, with the final assembly of Motorräder taking place in Bavaria. When redevelopment grant money became available in 1969, BMW was awarded 200 million DM, redeveloped the site, and then moved all of Motorrad production to the current location in Spandau. The newest building was completed about a year ago and is a fully automated warehouse.

This tour was remarkable, and we were both delighted to have had the experience.
After the tour we stuck to public transportation and used the U-Bahn to go back to Hachescher Markt, and had an early dinner in a delightful Tapas restaurant. After dinner, we picked up a bottle of wine and cheese, and headed back to the hotel to relax.

Day Four:
For our final day in Berlin, we checked out of the hotel and checked our bag. Staying to our public transportation idea, we took the bus several kilometers and then had a short walk, and to meet a former Siemens colleague of Judith’s for breakfast.
We had plenty of time since our flight was not until late afternoon. The DDR Motorrad Museum, at Alexander Platz, is close to the hotel, so after breakfast we took the U-Bahn to Alexander Platz. The DDR Motorrad Museum is just what it sounds like – all Motorräder built in the DDR.

This, of course, is all fascinating stuff for Judith and me.

Finally, it was time to head to the airport. We retrieved our bag from the hotel and decided to take a taxi, rather than public transportation.

We had a great time in Berlin, and we are both tremendously thankful for this amazing gift.