Saturday, 20 May 2017

11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers Day 1 - Berlin (Germany)

So this is the first of my series on our recent Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers and I feel like I should get the disclaimers out of the way. I am in no way affiliated to Chan Brothers, I was definitely not sponsored to write this, and my family paid the cost just like everyone else to join this tour. *Signs imaginary statutory declaration*

Now that that is done, I shall share a bit about my experience with Chan Brothers. If I am going for guided tours (which I have learnt is the best way for family trips), I will definitely choose Chan Brothers. I have joined Chan Brothers for a Taiwan trip and a Korea trip. I find that their tour packages are the most value-for-money, they provide generally good hotels throughout the trip, the tour guides are experienced and, you know what is the most important? I always know upfront what the optional tours or meals are, and how much they cost. I like honesty and transparency, no hanky panky going on there man. I tell everybody who is willing to hear to go for Chan Brothers if the price is right. I am, in a way, the unpaid and overly enthusiastic Chan Brothers fan. I guess I am secretly afraid they will go bust and I would have no more value-for-money tour operators to go on family trips with in future.

Thus, we signed up for the 11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers and traveled from 20 Dec to 28 Dec 2016. Yes, we had a white Christmas! Very exciting but I will share the downsides of being in Eastern Europe over Christmas in a later post.

Flew Swiss Air and landed in Berlin on a grey wintry morning together with the tour group and our tour leader Eva. I managed to snap a quick picture with the tour leader flag before we left the Berlin Airport!

Heard about the truck attack in one of the Christmas markets in Berlin just the night before and felt the somber mood through the capital of Germany. Flags were at half mast through the city and it was a very real reminder that such attacks can indeed happen anywhere.

We had a rather boring cream and rice lunch at Potsdamer Platz before heading to the city tour. Potsdamer Platz brought back lots of fond work memories. I came to Berlin twice for work and, despite the crazy busy meeting schedule, we managed to stop by both times for a quick bite at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market and I collected two mugs from the market.

Visited the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, East Side Gallery, Museum Island, and drove past a bunch of interesting places (like the huge Russian embassy) while listening to the local guide's description of World War II through the audio guide. Loved that Chan Brothers provided the audio guides for this trip so the local guide did not have to shout and scream over hordes of tourists and I could listen to everything clear and crisp through the audio guide.

Checkpoint Charlie.

Museum Island.

East Side Gallery. Did not manage to take much pictures of the artwork on the wall because my hands were shaking too badly from the cold.

We pulled up at the Brandenburg Gate where the German flag was also at half mast. The Goddess of Peace stood at the top of the gate and in the distance, the Victory Column was a familiar sight.

We returned to the Mall of Berlin where we had a bit of free time to shop. Walked around a little in the mall and eventually ended at the food court where we bought currywurst and fries (yippee!!).

The coach took us to Mercure Tempelhof Airport Hotel where we checked in and were free to find our own dinner. We walked along the main road and searched for dinner. Eventually, we stumbled upon Jasmin, as Asian eatery that served really good pho. If you are staying at this hotel and don't mind venturing out, Jasmin is a great place to have some yummy hot pho on a cold wintry day. The hotel was conveniently located beside a few supermarkets and we bought bottled water from one of them before heading back to rest.

Check out Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7.

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