35 minutes in Berlin

Of course I’m not advocating rushing around a city in 35 minutes and certainly not somewhere as deep and meaningful as Berlin. However while plotting a route on our 2nd full day in Berlin this blue-spotted route appeared in front of us on Google Maps, one which you could easily turn into a full half day with various add-ons.

So what is this 35 minute walk? Well simply put it goes from The Reichstag > Brandenburg Gate > Hotel Aldlon > The Jewish Memorial > Potsdamer Platz > Checkpoint Charlie.

Berlin in 35 minutes. A nice starter route

We were in Berlin for the marathon the next day on the Sunday so we wanted to see some sights but without having to walk too far. We had the day after the marathon on the Monday for that. So my little route encompasses 2 historical structures, a “comedy” moment spot, a newer memorial installation for some contemplation, a famous square and finally a fairly ordinary location which suddenly became suddenly became infamous in 1961.

Der Reichstag

A resplendent government building with its new glasshouse dome stuck on the top of it. Take some picture outside of the main facade with the German flag fluttering in the foreground. Go inside of course to experience the new glasshouse building, booking the tickets in advance if you wish to do so.

Berlin Reichstag

Der Berlin Reichstag

Inside der Reichstag

Inside Der Reichstag. Source: Wanderlust Chloe

Der Brandenburger Tor

100m around the corner is the Brandenburg Gate. Significant for it being the backdrop to proceedings in 1989 when the Berlin Wall can down, the location of “The Hoff” singing ‘Looking for Freedom’ on New Year’s Eve 1989 (but not actually bringing the wall down), and for the marathon runners the thing they run through with just 200m to go! A beautiful structure.

Der Brandenburger Tor the day before the Berlin Marathon

Der Brandenburger Tor the day before the Berlin Marathon

 

The Hotel Aldon

100m further on from the Brandenburg Gate is the Hotel Aldon. Remember that day back on 19th November 2002 when the late Michael Jackson decided to dangle his baby over the hotel balcony? Well it was here at the Hotel Aldon on the 3rd floor up, 2nd window from the right.

Hotel Adlon and that Michael Jackson balcony

Hotel Adlon and that “Michael Jackson” balcony

 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

200m down the road is the Jewish Memorial. A controversial new installation completed in 2005 taking up some prime real estate in central Berlin. With no real centerpiece itself you can walk up down, backwards and forwards amongst its 2,711 concrete slabs, all with varying heights but the same 0.95m width and 2.38m length. The abstract and somewhat vague installation leaves much time to ponder and seek interpretation of the message it’s trying to convey. I found it to be strangely tranquil and certainly a place to reflect on past atrocities.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Potsdamer Platz

Once busy pre-wall Potsdamer Platz found itself divided in two when it went up on 13 August 1961 but over the years it became a popular spot for curious tourists, especially when an observation platform went up allowing members of the public to look over the wall at the wilderness beyond. It was also one of the earliest locations where the Wall was “breached” to create a new border crossing between East and West Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz train station

Potsdamer Platz Train station

We literally stumbled across a line in the ground depicting where the wall once stood. We weren’t quite standing one second in the West and one second in the East but we appreciated the significance of this historical marker. The day we visited Potsdamer Platz felt fittingly open and bleak which added to the overall effect of where we were.

Berlin Wall Marker in Potdamer Platz

Berlin Wall Marker in Potdamer Platz

Checkpoint Charlie

The last of the 5 legs takes you from the memorial to Checkpoint Charlie, the gateway between East Berlin and the American sector of West Berlin. Now containing a slightly (read “really”) tacky spot for tourists to have their photo taken with “real” border guards, but also a place with a handful of exhibits and small museum and what I liked best, the original signage. A spot I remember visiting back in 1992 on a school A-level trip but even then already 3 years after the wall has fallen.

Either love it or hate it cheesiness at Checkpoint Charlie. I was the latter

Love it or hate it cheesiness at Checkpoint Charlie. I was the latter

Original Checkpoint Charlie Signage for when you entered West Berlin

Original Checkpoint Charlie Signage for when you entered West Berlin

You could easily spend a half day exploring these 5 spots, sandwiching in the Tiergarten and its Siegessäule tower between points 3 and 4 plus the Topographie des Terrors before you get to Checkpoint Charlie. Either way Berlin with its recent political past, various remaining examples of its infamous wall,  plus of late its emerging tech areas to complement its punk and techno music scenes make Berlin a wonderful european city to visit, and that’s before I even mention its cuisine and beer houses. I’ll be back again, hopefully. Prost! 🙂

Check out two recent experiences of Berlin by travel bloggers Wanderlust Chloe and Heels in my Backpack with more infomation on getting around and spots to eat and drink. The House of Small Wonder being a key spot for some “Instagram action” and the best coffee I had all week!

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Doctor Foster filming locations in Hitchin

Hitchin in Hertfordshire has served as the main backdrop to many a scene in the latest series of Doctor Foster, acting as the fictional town of Parminster. Many a Hitchin resident tuned in initially back in 2015 to see what parts of town would be shown, but now we’re just as engrossed as everybody else. With the last episode of this second series being shown tonight where exactly are the key locations?

Doctor Foster filming in the Market Square back in September 2016

Doctor Foster filming in the Market Square back in September 2016

With signs being out up in the centre of town back in September 2016 most of us already had a good idea where they would be, including the local Hitchin Running Club who were politely asked to do a little detour one evening as bright neon green, pink and yellow doesn’t look too good on camera. But for those who missed a few of them here are the key locations.

A lot of the action is filmed around Hitchin’s Market Square. This panorama photo sets the scene and shows a lot of the locations that were used.

Hitchin Market Square panoramic shot

Hitchin Market Square panoramic shot

The key locations in Hitchin

The key locations in Hitchin with Google link

The Market Square and Café Air Coffee Shop

Hitchin’s Market Square serves as the location for characters to grab a coffee before visiting the Courtyard Parminster Community Centre. The Square is a delightful, enclosed location which has various stalls on a Saturday throughout the year, a kids’ bouncy slide and sometimes even an old school merry-go-round too. The Square also hosts the annual Christmas carol service and is considered the main hub of the town. It also leads through to the most picturesque view of the town, looking over to St Mary’s Church.

Neil grabbing a coffee in the square

Neil grabbing a coffee in the square

Kate grabbing a quick coffee too

Kate grabbing a quick coffee too

Hitchin's Café Air coffee shop in the Market Square

Hitchin’s Café Air coffee shop in the Market Square

Doctor Foster with the traffic warden

Doctor Foster with the traffic warden

The road around Hitchin Market Square where the traffic actually goes the other way

The road around Hitchin Market Square where the traffic actually goes in the other direction

The Courtyard Parminster Community Centre café … aka Cooper’s Yard and The Dogs Trust

The orange clad windows actually belong to the Dogs Trust charity shop and the walkway leads up to Kinetic Cycles / Wakelin’s coffee shop rather than opening out into a Courtyard cafe. Maybe some clever “green screen” was going on here.

Doctor Foster striding towards the Parminster Community Café

Doctor Foster striding towards the Parminster Community Café

Hitchin's Dogs Trust leading up to Kinetic Cycles and Wakelin's Coffee

Hitchin’s Dogs Trust leading up to Kinetic Cycles and Wakelin’s Coffee

Strattos nightclub … aka Osinsky’s and Waterstone’s

This nightclub is actually a pool hall, bar and restaurant called Osinsky’s, with its facade outside being the front of Waterstone’s bookstore. In the show Doctor Foster and the teacher are shown walking UP to get out but you actually walk up the stairs to get IN with Osinsky’s bar being on the first floor and not underground. When I was taking the photos below a group of 5 women were amusingly trying to recreate some of the scenes from episode 2.

Doctor Foster going up to leave the nightclub

Doctor Foster going UP to leave the nightclub

Hitchin's Osinsky's bar where you actually go up to go in

Hitchin’s Osinsky’s bar where you actually go up to go IN

Doctor Foster shouting Simon outside the nightclub

Doctor Foster shouting “Simon!” outside the nightclub

Hitchin Market Square looking back towards Osinsky's and Waterstone's

Hitchin Market Square looking back towards Osinsky’s and Waterstone’s

Simon taking that photo of Doctor Foster

Simon taking that photo of Doctor Foster

Hitchin Market Square without Simon, looking towards the Rose & Crown pub

Hitchin Market Square without Simon, looking towards the Rose & Crown pub

The bench … on the top of Windmill Hill

Perhaps the most iconic setting is the bench on the top of Windmill Hill that looks back west over Hitchin, which treats you to some beautiful and far-reaching sunsets in the summer. The hill faces Hermitage Road which is soon becoming one of Hitchin’s coolest streets with the Hermitage bar, the beer shop, Gatefold record coffee shop and Farley’s hairdressers. Look up towards the hill and you will see two wooden benches. The “Doctor Foster” bench is the one on the right

The Doctor Foster bench on top of the hill

The Doctor Foster bench on top of the hill

Sitting on the Doctor Foster bench at the top of Windmill Hill

Sitting on the Doctor Foster bench at the top of Windmill Hill

Find Hermitage Road and look to the top of the grassy hill

Find Hermitage Road and look to the top of the grassy hill. The bench is the one on the right of the two up there.

Hitchin Market and St Mary’s Church

When Kate and her friend are wandering through town they walk adjacent to St Mary’s Church before turning through Hitchin Market. St Mary’s Church is the largest parish church in Hertfordshire and is remarkably big for a town of the size of Hitchin – cited as evidence of how Hitchin prospered from the wool trade.

Kate walking through the market

Kate walking through the market

Hitchin Market and St Mary's Church

Hitchin Market and St Mary’s Church outside Manny’s café

Churchgate Shopping Centre

They then find themselves in the “once” futuristic looking Churchgate Shopping Centre which was built in the 1960s, sadly removing some old buildings which had completed the enclosed feel of the Market Square.

Doctor Foster heading back into the Square

Doctor Foster heading back into the Square

Hitchin Churchgate Shopping Centre and the Market Square

Hitchin Churchgate Shopping Centre and the Market Square

Kate having a chat with her friend's friend

Kate having a chat with her friend’s friend

Further down Hitchin's Churchgate Shopping Centre outside the Persian Rug Shop

Further down Hitchin’s Churchgate Shopping Centre outside the Persian Rug Shop

Hitchin Churchgate Shopping Centre Entrance

The Churchgate Shopping Centre entrance

Are there any Hitchin locations I missed? I think I got most of them? 🙂

Also check out the post by Hornblower Travels that wonderfully portrays our beautiful little market town and all the things there are to see in it, from music festivals to Indian festivals and from lavender fields to historic old pubs and buildings.

Doctor Foster preparing for a scene in the Market Square

Doctor Foster preparing for a scene in the Market Square. Source