Believe it or not, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, so it was most appropriate that DB-Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) hosted a most informative educational trip for Irish agents to the capital city of the Federal Republic. The trip was in association with visitBerlin and Aer Lingus and was organised and led by Catherine Grennell-Whyte of RailShop, who are the general sales agent for DB in Ireland.
DB Bahn is one of the largest providers in the European passenger transportation market, with more than 12 million passengers daily, on 30,000 trains. It offers high quality rail travel on ICE (Inter City Express) trains between all of the principal German cities. It is a most viable transport mode for transfers between cities.
Rail travel is a growing market, and it provides yet another commissionable product for Irish travel agents to sell to their customers.
Berlin has become the third most visited city in Europe, after London and Paris, and attracted more than 11.3 million visitors last year, of which more than 32,500 were Irish.
The agents had a packed itinerary that kicked off with a visit to the TV tower, one of the better attractions inherited from the former GDR, followed by lunch in the revolving restaurant, complete with stunning views over this magnificent city.
Then it was off on a four-hour sightseeing tour that compared and contrasted the best of Berlin and the city of today, 25 years later. Then it was back to the hotel for a quick change and off to dinner in a typical Berlin restaurant, fleischerei (www.fleischerei-berlin.com).
One of the highlights of the trip, of which there were many, was the ‘Raw Berlin Exposed eBike Tour’. This is a perfect orientation tour of this exciting city on battery-assisted pedal cycles. This is run by Fat Tire Bike Tours, and is really suitable for all age groups (www.FatTireBikeTours.com).
Next stop was the GDR Museum, the only museum that deals with life in the former German Democratic Republic and which offers an interesting look back on the various aspects of life during that period.
That evening it was theatre time and in particular a visit to see the musical ‘Hinterm Horizion’ – and there are English sub-titles, which certainly added to the enjoyment! This is a musical about a girl from East Berlin, with hits by Udo Llindenberg.
This is a sensational show, combined with historic video clips, and adds in a fantastic rock concert for good measure in a show that is worth going all the way to Berlin to experience.
The following day the group boarded a DB Bahn ICE train bound for Frankfurt and soon discovered that everything in the promotional literature was, indeed, true.
Comfort personified with excellent food options and great scenery, the train took five hours from city centre to city centre (www.railshop.ie).
There is just so much to see and do in Berlin – so much so that many of the group are already planning to return in the not too distant future.
In summary, a great fam trip to an even greater city.