Day 1: US Departures
Independent departures from the U.S.A
Day 2: Berlin Arrivals
Independent transfers to the four-star Hotel Melia, an ideal downtown location near many of Berlin's most important attractions, including Museum Island and the Reichstag. Enjoy free time for relaxing and settling into the Melia.
In the afternoon, meet your guide and set out on an orientation walking tour of the area around your hotel. Enter the Pariser Platz, and admire the classic architecture lining the renowned Unter den Linden Boulevard, including the Brandenburg Gate. Also, see the American Embassy and Frank Gehry's intriguing DZ bank building, whose sedate façade belies its avant-garde interior and fishlike dome. Continue the Reichstag building, avoid the long lines, and gain immediate access to a special elevator that will take you straight up to the sensational dome designed by Lord Norman Foster. Learn about the energy conservation implemented in the dome's design, which tops one of the "greenest" buildings in the world.
Enjoy a welcome dinner in the renowned rooftop Käfer restaurant, immediately adjacent to the dome. Hotel Melia (D)
Day 3: An Introduction to Berlin
Today is dedicated to a cultural and historical overview of Berlin, designed to provide context and depth as you orient yourself in this unique city. Begin with a walk through Peter Eisenman's soul-searching Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Board a coach to continue the tour of the city beginning with the Potsdamer Platz where your guide will discuss the area's transformation from the Cold War's "no-man's land" to an architectural showpiece and site for many of the greatest contemporary architects.
See other highlights, including the Nikolai Quarter, Berlin's oldest district; the endarmenmarkt, Berlin's most elegant French-inspired square; Unter den Linden; Kurfürstendamm; Check Point Charlie, and the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall where provocative graffiti from before the Wall's collapse is preserved. Finish the morning with a special architectural tour of the Jewish Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind where architecture is used as a means of narrative and formal design as a conceptually expressive tool to represent the Jewish lifestyle before, during, and after the Holocaust.
Following lunch in one of Berlin's most beautiful settings, return to East Berlin by coach. Spend the afternoon at the German History Museum and see I. M. Pei's stunning addition to the original Baroque palace. Those interested can stay on at the museum to enjoy the collection.
This evening enjoy an optional Dutch-treat dinner at a popular local restaurant. Hotel Melia (B, L)
Day 4: Museum Island – Masterpieces of Classical Antiquity
Berlin's Museum Island is a repository of ancient art and architectural treasures from Babylon to Egypt to Rome. Walk down Unter den Linden and begin the morning at the spectacular Pergamon Museum where architectural treasures of ancient Babylon, Greece, and Rome have been transported and rebuilt. Following lunch in a local restaurant, visit the Neues Museum, renovated by renowned architect David Chipperfield, which reopened in October 2009 to rave reviews. See highlights from the Egyptian Collection, including the remarkable bust of Nefertiti.
The balance of the afternoon is at leisure to see one of the other museums on Museum Island, such as the Altes Nationalgalerie, which houses French Impressionist masterpieces, the Nazerene Brotherhood, Caspar David Friedrich, and the German Romantics, or the Bodes Museum, a spectacular building that houses an outstanding sculpture and decorative arts collection. The evening is free to enjoy one of the city's many cultural offerings such as a performance by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Hotel Melia (B, L)
Day 5: Kulturforum and Environs
Drive to the Kulturforum, a Berlin quarter with many cultural institutions located within walking distance of the Potsdamer Platz. Visit the Gemäldegalerie, housing a remarkable collection of the Old Masters, including Dürer, Holbein, Giotto, Titian, Botticelli, Lippi, Bruegel, and one of the world's largest collections of Rembrandt works. Continue to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Mies Van der Rohe's modern glass-and-steel creation containing a continually growing collection of modern European and American art. Continue to the historic 7 level department store, KaDeWe, the largest and oldest department store on the continent for an independent lunch at their expansive food and café level where small stands serve everything from sushi to traditional German fare. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Hotel Melia (B)
Day 6: Potsdam and Sanssouci Palace
Drive to Potsdam, and before arriving, walk across Glienicke Bridge, the famous Bridge of
Spys. The bridge lies at an isolated joint where US-occupied West-Berlin met Sovietoccupied
Potsdam, which was in East Germany. During the Cold War, this bridge was one of the few places in the world where the Soviet Union and the United States stood directly opposite each other and brokered deals with one another. The United States and the Soviet Union used it four times to exchange captured spies during the Cold War.
Spend the morning exploring Sanssouci Palace, the exquisite summer palace of Frederick the Great who was one of the most liberal and farsighted of the Prussian monarchs as well as an enlightened patron of the arts. Enjoy the palace interior, which is one of the most flamboyant in Germany. After strolling through the magnificent palace gardens, enjoy a lunch at Schloss Cecilienhof, the location of the historic Potsdam Conference following WWII. Return to Berlin for an evening at leisure. HOTEL MELIA (B, L)
Day 7: Independent Exploration
Today is at leisure. Take time to explore the sights, museums, and architecture of Berlin at your own pace. Return to Museum Island to or perhaps take a tour of the Berlin Philharmonie concert hall, renowned for its innovative architecture and acoustics. Spend the evening at one of Berlin's many concert halls or opera houses appreciating a performance by world class musicians, dancers, and actors. HOTEL MELIA (B)
Day 8: Contemporary Art and Farewell Dinner
This morning, we will walk to the Boros Bunker, for a curator-led tour of "one of the world's leading contemporary art collections" as described in Arts News. The collection is housed in a World War II bunker. Contineue to one of Berlin's most outstanding, private contemporary art collections, listed on ARTnews' top 200 private collections. The afternoon is at leisure, followed by a gourmet farewell dinner near the hotel. HOTEL MELIA (B, D)
Day 9: Depart Berlin for US
Independent departures for the US. (B)