The Mother of all Airports, as Norman Foster once called it, visiting the now disused terminal (the third largest building in the world) is a little like walking around a classical Roman ruin.The sheer scale of the building is truly breathtaking, in particular the vast arrivals hall which was designed by Ernst Sagebiel. He worked in the same offices as Albert Speer, the architect who became very close to Hitler, of course, the brainchild of Germania. I think it is that worrying link with the past that makes walking through the site all the more interesting. I found myself questioning whether I was allowed to admire it or not. It is particularly eerie now it is empty but there are plenty of reminders of the airport's previous life as a major international terminal and the role it played in the 1948 Air Lift. The US used it a base during the Cold War, from 1945 and their old offices are left exactly as they were immediately after their departure in 1993. There is a also a German War bunker on the site, where the Luftwaffe kept a film archive of the air raids on Britain. What really intrigued me was the American basketball court which was built in an area the Germans had intended to use as a grand restaurant and dance hall. In the rooms visited on the tour, photography is permitted everywhere. The two hours spent with the guide were the most rewarding aspect of a recent trip to Berlin. The two hour tour, cost €8 per person (15-30 persons) and is bookable through Berliner Flughäfen. Brilliant.
+49 30 6091-1660 / 2250
Nearest U Bahn station; Platz der Luftbrücke
For older travellers one of the most stressful experiences is finding your way from the airport to the hotel.
Option one: Get a taxi directly from the airport to your hotel. It will cost some euros but it's worth it, I assure you.
Option two: Get the shuttle bus to the centre of the city. It will stop outside a McDonald's outlet. You will drag your luggage off and look for a taxi rank. You won't see one - only a lot of whizzing traffic. You will now curse the day you left home - but do not despair! There is a taxi rank but it is on the opposite side of the square from McDonalds. Drag your luggage over there, get a taxi to your hotel and collapse on your bed. Have a nice day!
This is an awful place to travel from for the single passenger, mainly because it is impossible to get into the toilets with a luggage trolley. Sounds trivial, I know, but with check-in desks dedicated to a single gate, its often impossible to check your luggage and get into the loo for hours. I know, I still have a burst bloodvessel in my eye to prove it.
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