Wall to wall adventure; New movie Bridge of Spies has put Berlin back in the spotlight and visitors can explore the beautiful German city's turbulent history and rich culture.
With Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed film Bridge of Spies reigniting interest in the Cold War, and the divide that once split East and West Germany, there is no better time to visit Berlin.
Bridge of Spies, which is out on DVD tomorrow, tells the story of New York lawyer James Donovan, who defended Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in a 1957 espionage trial and later negotiated the exchange of Abel for US pilot Francis Gary Powers and student Frederic Pryor.
Tom Hanks stars as Donovan and British star Mark Rylance won a best supporting actor Oscar as Abel.
Head to Berlin today and you can see remains of the wall scattered across the city, a sobering reminder of the divide that stood between families and friends just 26 years ago.
After touching down in the city, we headed to the stunning five-star Hotel Adlon Kempinski, with rooms over-looking the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate. The neoclassical arch served as one of eight crossings from East to West Berlin during the Cold War and was seen as a symbol of the division of Germany. Today, it is one of the country's best-known landmarks. Mixed with the old in Berlin is the ultra modern, bringing the city firmly into the 21st century.
On day one, we went for lunch at the Potsdamer Platz square, about 1km south of the Brandenburg Gate.
The square marks the point where the old road from Potsdam passed through the Berlin Wall at the Potsdam Gate.Once one of the most bustling traffic intersections in Europe, it was left desolate during the Cold War when the wall ran through its centre.
Now, it is the site of major redevelopment projects, including the 2 Michelin Star FACIL restaurant at the Mandala Hotel. The restaurant offers the ultimate fine-dining experience, with knowledgeable staff and locally sourced German food with a contemporary twist. Every guest is treated like a VIP.
I'm gluten intolerant and the kitchen made me a delicious fresh batch of wheat-free bread, which was still warm when it arrived at our table.
Our next stop was the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, founded in 1962 by human rights activist Dr Rainer Hildebrandt. Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous of the Berlin wall crossings during the Cold War and is now a popular tourist spot.
The museum tells the story of those who managed to escape East Germany. With the help of Dr Hildebrandt and others living in West Berlin, citizens on the east side of the wall sneaked over the border in car boots, chair lifts and even false petrol tanks.
The most interesting part of the museum is the artwork, which shows how those on east and west perceived Germany during the 30 years it was split in two.
A trip to Berlin would not be complete without a visit to Trip Advisor's top-rated restaurant, Bieberbau. Half an hour's drive from the city, it is well worth the trip. The menu features German root vegetables, succulent meats and a selection of cheese and German wine. It's worth every penny and there are set menus for tighter budgets.
Berlin's East Germany museum, the DDR, isn't one of the most popular attractions, but was a highlight for me. The small, interactive museum on the banks of the River Spree gives a glimpse of what life was like behind the Berlin Wall.
We were told of the strict rules East Berliners lived under in the German Democratic Republic: child criminals were sent to prison camps where abuse was rife; those on the east were desperate to mark out their individuality; and nudist beaches were the holiday destination of choice as Germans tried to find freedom from strict Soviet rule.
Our final day took us to the Glienicke Bridge - the Bridge of Spies. Crossing the Havel River, the Glienicke was used during the Cold War for the exchange of captured spies and features in the film when Abel is exchanged for Powers.
Although not as exciting as the eerie movie setting, the bridge offers gorgeous views across the river and is a short walk from Restaurant Remise Schloss Glienicke, said to offer the best Wiener Schnitzel in Berlin.
While Berlin is more popular nowadays for its vibrant arts scene and clubs, Bridge of Spies shows the history of the city sets it apart - and it doesn't stop with the wall.
Travel info | Return flight to Berlin from Glasgow can cost as little as PS81.
| For more info on Berlin, go to www.visitberlin.de | For rooms at Hotel Adlon Kempinski, see www.kempinski.com/en/berlin | Checkpoint Charlie Museum: www.mauermuseum.de | DDR Museum: www.ddrmuseum.de/en | Glienicke Bridge: www.glienicke-bridge.com | Bieberbau: www.bieberbauberlin.de/en Bridge of Spies dvd AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL HD, BLU-RAY AND DVD TOMORROW, COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
HISTORIC The 18th-century Brandenburg Gate
HANDS ON The interactive DDR Museum
LUXURY Room at Hotel Adlon Kempinski
TOUGH CALL Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies
SPY GAME Spies were exchanged at the Glienicke Bridge
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Mar 27, 2016|
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