The itinerary were two nights in Berlin, followed by taking the train to Prague, but with a six hours stop in Dresden, a night in Prague, then the coach the following evening to Vienna (the coach trip takes the same time to get to Vienna as the train, but is significantly cheaper). Then it was two night in Vienna before we flew back to London.
The highlight of the trip was the Reichstag building. We had not prebooked ticket (silly us), so we had to queue outside in sub freezing temperature of -10C to get onto the reservation list for the following day. It was worth it. Anyone who knows me knows I am a fan of Norman Foster's City Hall in Southwark, London. The Reichstag dome, designed by Foster, is the precursor to City Hall. While not at architecturally as impressive as City Hall's sweeping spiral staircase (in my opinion), it is far grander. The contemporary dome is a stark contrast but also sympathetic to the classical architecture of the building.
|Topography of Terror|
Another tourist trap I would recommend avoiding, or at least keeping your expectations in check, is Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie is the best known Berlin Wall crossing between the former East and West Berlin and are manned by people who would technically void your passport by stamping on them in exchange for some euros. Thankfully, the Topography of Terror museum is not a long walk away. Here, you will find an indoor and outdoor museum on the site of the Gestapo and SS's headquarter, as well as a well preserved part of the Berlin Wall.
|Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe|
Dresden is a unique city. Much of the old town was destroyed in a controversial fire bombing during World War II when Germany was already losing. It has since been rebuild, with many buildings returning to its former pre-war glory. We spent six hours in Dresden, which allowed us plenty of time to at least take in the exterior sights of the old town. We discovered a Saxon market called Stallhof, which reminded me a lot of Dragon Quest VIII.
|Fürstenzug: Procession of Princes|
We had brunch at the famous Cafe Savoy across the river and while it didn't blew my mind, the setting was nice and certainly much more affordable than say having brunch at the Savoy in London, even comparatively. From there we wondered through a snowed up Petrin Park up to numerous hills on route to Prague Castle, a definite must-do to any self confessed travelers.
|Prague old town square|
The coach journey to Vienna was uneventful, up to the point where we were unceremoniously evicted at an empty coach station next to an empty stadium with not a fast food outlet in sight, our stomach complaining after the four hour journey. Our hotel in Vienna is the Mieninger Hostel (we paid for private room with en-suite), in a very quiet part of inner Vienna. So quiet in fact that when we went out to look for food, the only thing we found after 30 minutes of walking was a dodgy Indian restaurant where the chef was preparing the food with a cigarette in his mouth. Thankfully the hostel has a small kitchenette.
|Vienna Staatsoper (State Opera)|
With food out of the way, we did the whole typical check the box list thing for Vienna, including a visit to the Staatsoper (State Opera) to watch Beethoven's Fidelio (standing tickets for 4 Euros - be warned that not everyone can do this - a young tourist actually fainted while we were there), Schönbrunn Palace (definitely worth paying to enter the palace), Hofburg Palace, Belvedere, St. Stephen's Cathedral and Hundertwasserhaus (which isn't quite worth going if you are on a short trip, as you can't actually enter the building). We did not do the Spanish Riding School, having been warned of being 'rip-offed'.
This was always going to be a taster trip, and six days is far too short to appreciate everything these cities has to offer. But we still had loads of fun. Berlin is perhaps my favourite city of these four, being closest to London in terms of comfort and being the least touristy. Its history meant that Berlin had an eclectic range of architecture style, with gloomy Soviet style tower blocks next to colourful modernity. Until next time.
For more pictures of Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Vienna.