Day 48 – Berlin

Pedal / Day 48 of 64 / 26 June

I left for my first destination for the day, the Reichstag Dome, at 8.20am. As I’ve mentioned earlier, a visit to the dome must be scheduled in advance, either online or through the reservation booth across the road from the Reichstag. I managed to secure slots for a 9am visit to the dome, despite it being the busy summer season.

I arrived at the dome at around 8.45am, and after going through security checks, I arrived at the dome at around 9am. I used the complimentary audio guide, which made the walk up the spiral walkway more interactive and informative. As you walk along the spiral, admiring the different angles of Berlin, the audio guide will point out buildings of interest and their history.

From the top of the dome, you’ll get one of the best unobstructed views of Berlin’s mid-rise buildings. You’ll also get a rather good view into the Plenary Hall of the Reichstag. A glass floor reveals the Plenary Hall below. The hall is where members of the German Bundestag gather. On the day I visited the dome, I could observe the members of the Bundestag working inside the hall. I left the Reichstag at around 9.45am.

Looking down into the Plenary Hall.

My next destination for the day was a town on the outskirts of Berlin called Potsdam. To get to Potsdam, I took the S-Bahn from Berlin Central Station [Berlin Hauptbahnhof]. Taking line S7 will bring you to Potsdam, the end of the line.

I arrived at Potsdam at around 10.40am. My first thought was to look for some food: I hadn’t had my breakfast yet. I settled for some currywurst, as is customary when one is broke in Germany. After brunch, I decided to look for a rental bicycle, because Potsdam is a city best and easily explored on bike. After some fiddling with a bike-sharing app, and trying to get it to work, a man on a bike approached me and asked me if I wanted to rent a bike. He was the owner of a bicycle rental shop located near Potsdam Hauptbahnhof. I followed him back to the shop, and 15 minutes and 10 EUR later, I had a rental bike and was ready to take on Potsdam.

An unfortunately named cafe in Potsdam Central Station.

The man at the rental shop gave me a map with a recommended route around Potsdam. Coincidentally, his route contained most of the sights I had planned to visit as well. The route starts off at Sanssouci Park, a giant park on the outer edges of Potsdam. Inside the beautifully manicured park, you’ll find the imposing New Palace [Neues Palais] and the Sanssouci Palace with its impressive flight of steps.

The Palace disappears behind the steps as you ascend each flight.

The next stop on the tour was the Dutch Quarter [Holländisches Viertel]. The Dutch Quarter is home to the largest concentration of Dutch-styled buildings outside of The Netherlands. Strolling down these streets, the only thing that reminds you that you’re not in Amsterdam is the lack of canals. I popped into a quaint cafe for a tea break. It was a sublimely European experience: sitting in a house that’s more than a hundred years old, eating a nougat cake, and drinking coffee.

At 2.30pm, it was back to nature again. This time, I cycled through New Garden [Neuer Garten]. Exiting the garden, I arrived at Glienicker Brücke, also known as the Bridge of Spies. The bridge once served as an exchange point for spies during the Cold War. Apparently, it also featured in a 2015 film titled “Bridge of Spies”: a film which I had not heard of prior to my trip to Potsdam.

My journey continued through the Babelsberg Park. Here, the cycling route runs almost parallel to the Havel River, giving you a picturesque view of the city and waterfront as you cycle back to Potsdam Central Station. I reached the shop at around 3.30pm and returned my bike. The entire journey took around 4 hours. I boarded the S-Bahn and headed back to Berlin.

– Ryan

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