I recently went to the centre of Berlin, where, for the first time, I investigated The Reichstag, The Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz; and to be honest, were it not for this exceedingly groovy travel guide, I’d have been completely lost. Not lost in the sense of being dazed and confused and not knowing where north was, but lost in the sense of not knowing anything of the background or history of said sights.
For sure, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Berlin is a travel guide, but it’s also a whole lot more. It’s colourful, it’s compact, it’s factual, it’s well designed and it’s both inviting and compelling to read.
Apart from focusing on much of the historical and cultural background of Berlin – where more than one hundred and fifty places of interest are described in the Area by Area of the book (which, along with the aforementioned, invariably includes all principle places of interest such as the Zoologischer Garten, the Fernsehturm and Schloss Charlottenburg) – there are also two sections called ‘Greater Berlin’ and ‘Further Afield’ which cater for the even more culturally inclined (and adventurous).
Along with Practical Information, Travel Information, Restaurants, Shopping, Entertainment and a Children’s section on Berlin, the guide comes replete with sixteen pages of really helpful maps (including the Berlin U and S-Bahns).
So in all, there’s not really anything else one could wish for from a travel guide, without becoming deeply entrenched within that of the scary specialist arena – such as Berlin for Night Owls or Neurotics, Panzer Manoeuvres or Perverts.
That said, it does take all sorts, and this colour-coded book on Berlin essentially addresses all sorts. From women’s fashion and perfume, to Kneipen and Gay and Lesbian Bars; from an abundance of hotels in almost every area of the city, to antiques, classical music and Potsdam. Indeed, there’s something for everyman and woman contained herein.
For instance, in relation to shopping on page 250, the editors write: ‘’With a shopping centre in every district, each selling a wide variety of merchandise, Berlin is a place where almost anything can be bought, so long as you know where to look. The most popular places are Kurfurstendamm and Friedrichstrasse, but the smaller shops in Wedding, Friedrichshain, Schoneberg and the Tiergarten are also worth a visit. Small boutiques selling flamboyant Berlin style clothes crop up in unexpected courtyards, while the top fashion houses offer the latest in European elegance. Early on Saturday morning is often the best time to visit the city’s various markets, the most popular of which – with their colourful stalls full of hats, bags and belts – can be found on Museum Island and at the Tiergarten. The Galeries Lafayette, KaDeWe and any of the city’s numerous bookshops all make ideal venues for a pleasant afternoon’s window shopping.’’
Clearly written, concise, and containing some really wonderful photographs, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Berlin is as fundamental an item when visiting Berlin, as is one’s passport and hotel reference.