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Erin
06-23-2012, 05:25 AM
I know what great advice FSUers have given in many other travel threads, so I thought I'd see what help I can get for my upcoming trip to Europe. I've booked a trip to Helsinki to visit my younger brother and his girlfriend for 9 days in late July. In the middle of there, my brother and I are heading to Berlin for 3 days, and I am also considering a day trip to Tallinn if time permits and/or if it's worth it.

I found a couple of other threads on Helsinki and so far my "must do" items are the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, cakes at Fazer cafe, the korvapuusti/cinnamon buns at Esplanad, and trying the sauna thing. I would also like to go shopping at Fredrikinkatu street at Punavuori. Considering a day trip to Porvoo (largely depending on transport and if it will be too much trouble to my hosts).

Any other suggestions of things to do or see? I generally like to have a mix of activities on vacation - some guided tours especially with history of the place, some time seeing places with great scenery, and also just eating in great restaurants and having drinks in interesting bars. I'd be open to any recommendations in this area. In terms of museums, I'm kind of mixed - I'm not huge on art museums, although I feel like some of the big ones (e.g. the Louvre, the Met) can't be missed and have been happy I went. I tend to prefer historical museums overall though.

I just booked the Berlin flight today, so I haven't done any other research. Any recommendations on what area to stay in? Getting a hotel is probably my main priority for Berlin.

Is Tallinn worth doing? And if so, can it be done as a day trip?

I'm sure I'll have many more questions as I go along, but this is a start. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Tinami Amori
06-23-2012, 05:46 AM
I just booked the Berlin flight today, so I haven't done any other research. Any recommendations on what area to stay in? Getting a hotel is probably my main priority for Berlin.

Is Tallinn worth doing? And if so, can it be done as a day trip?


Berlin
- What are the exact days you will stay in Berlin, and what is your budget? the best area is near the Brandenburg Gate - Unter den Linden - Potsdamer Plaz area - Museum Island with in +/- two-three blocks. The problem is... this is middle of summer tourist season, best location/budget price hotels are taken first.

It would be pointless to give you a list of hotels when you're going so soon, in the middle of summer, knowing most of hotels are probably booked. So give me dates and budget - I will give you EXACT hotels you can book NOW.

Berlin is FULL of all sorts of History Museums, and art museums... The whole Berlin itself is a history museum....:rofl:

3 days is good minimal time to spend there....

Tallin
- If going for 1 day to Tallin is not cutting into any other first-choice activities, then sure... The Old Central Tallin is very pleasant. It is not much different than any other "small Burg" Eastern European City... But for me, a former Soviet citizen from Moscow, the word "Tallin" meant "The Most Western and Free Soviet City"....:).. so I love Tallin... But if I was not born in USSR, would I suggest Tallin as a "must see" destination?..... not really..;)

ballettmaus
06-23-2012, 06:16 AM
Berlin is FULL of all sorts of History Museums, and art museums... The whole Berlin itself is a history museum....:rofl:


That's a way I have never heard Berlin being referred to but I certainly like it. :D




3 days is good minimal time to spend there....


I'd say that depends on whether it's three full days or not...

If the weather is nice which, according to the long-term forecast it may very well not be, I'd suggest to stay outside, do the sightseeing tour with one of the busses; they have hop-on-hop-off tours. Gives you a nice impression of the city and it stops by the main sights - City East (Unter den Linden) and City West (Ku-Damm).
I know there is the bus #100 which is a regular bus and is supposed to pass all the sights as well, however, it comes without the information on the sights.
I can also recommend the bridge tour which is a boat ride along one of the river's and, obviously, goes through all the bridges Berlin has, including the famous "Oberbaum" bridge where a lot of exchanges happened between East and West spies.
If you're not afraid of heights, the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) has a nice view, as does the Berlin Dom. It's beautiful on the inside as well and huge.
The Nikolai Quarter is also nice to walk around and I guess if you only have three days (inlcuding travel) that probably fills them up already.

If the weather isn't nice stick to the museums ;)

Berlin has a 72-hrs-tourist ticket available for public transportation so I'd check into that.
Berlin is pretty easy to navigate especially if you stick to the city center(s). Public transportation is operating around the clock Friday and Saturday and until late at night the other days; there's also night busses, of course.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the one that was bombed during WW II is probably still under construction. It is open though but you cannot see it from the outside.

One of my personal favorites is the water clock in the Europa Center opposite the church. Probably not spectacular but fun.

If you got any specific questions about Berlin (except hotels, as I've never needed them) feel free to ask. I live there :)

PrincessLeppard
06-23-2012, 07:48 AM
I loved Tailinn. We stayed overnight, but you can certainly walk around it in a day. I really enjoyed the Communist Museum. And my sister bought a gorgeous amber ring. :)

Nomad
06-23-2012, 08:59 AM
If you're a spud lover, go to the Kartoffellaube. and afternoon tea at the Adlon Hotel is a nice way to spend an afternoon.

PRlady
06-23-2012, 10:49 AM
I stayed at the Augustinehof hotel in Mitte. It's incredibly convenient, right in between the U-Bahn and S-Bahn on a quiet street. Really reasonably priced, it's actually somehow church-connected but no-one sermonizes. ;) It's a five minute walk from Museum Isle and there are great restaurants in the neighborhood, as well as an old-fashioned ballroom for dancing on the next block that is wonderful. Also the restaurant across the street, named after Keyser Soze :rofl: has incredible bacon.

I floved Berlin. :) Make sure you visit the Holocaust Memorial and...sorry it's very early here...the wonderful palace (Frederick's) that's on the western edge of the city. Charlottenberg, that's it. And on Museum Isle, the Pergomom Museum is just fascinating if you love ancient history.

Finally, the Checkpoint Charlie museum is small, a bit tattered and touristy, and not to be missed. We spent a longggggg time there. It gave me such a sense of what Berliners went though living in a divided city.

HisWeirness
06-23-2012, 01:28 PM
If you want to visit the Reichstag while you are in Berlin, you need to register ahead of time.

Here is the information: http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/kupp.html

It looks like the dome will be closed during parts of July, so you will need to keep that in mind.

I was in Berlin last October for around 3.5 days during the Festival of Lights (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15312347) and I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping to go back again soon because there were so many places I did not get to visit.

Bus #100 and #200 are great to just sit on and see the sights. I know some guide books and travel apps have written descriptions of the sights along the route. If you have an iphone, I found this (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/berlin-essential-guide/id375896485?mt=8) Berlin guide app very useful.

Have fun!!

shan
06-23-2012, 03:53 PM
I love the Checkpoint Charlie museum. It has fascinating stories

Tinami Amori
06-23-2012, 07:03 PM
That's a way I have never heard Berlin being referred to but I certainly like it. :D

:lol: To someone jewish, born in Moscow in the 1960's (less than 2 decades after WWII), to a family who survived Leningrad Seige on one side, and Kiev purges/Baby Yar on the other side..... the WHOLE BERLIN IS A HISTORY MUSEUM.. EVERY SQUARE CM OF IT...:D

Erin
06-23-2012, 08:19 PM
Berlin
- What are the exact days you will stay in Berlin, and what is your budget?

I'll be there from July 22-25. Budget is pretty flexible...basically I tend to go for whatever is clean, safe, and convenient at the lowest price and that depends on the city. I'd like to keep it below $100/70 Euro if possible, but that's not an absolute budget limit.


Tallin
- If going for 1 day to Tallin is not cutting into any other first-choice activities, then sure... The Old Central Tallin is very pleasant. It is not much different than any other "small Burg" Eastern European City... But for me, a former Soviet citizen from Moscow, the word "Tallin" meant "The Most Western and Free Soviet City"....:).. so I love Tallin... But if I was not born in USSR, would I suggest Tallin as a "must see" destination?..... not really..;)

OK, I will keep that in mind. I can play Tallinn by ear since all I have to do is grab the ferry if I decided to do it. I'm leaning towards going, though, I've done a little bit of research and it looks pretty interesting. Although with me, all any city needs to do is say they have an Old Town and I'm interested.


I'd say that depends on whether it's three full days or not...

It will be pretty close to 3 full days...basically we arrive late afternoon and leave mid-afternoon, so it gives us an evening, 2 full days, and then a morning.

Thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions so far, I am diligently keeping a word document file with them all. I will definitely hit up the restaurant with the incredible bacon...I better bring some running clothes to make sure I am not as big as a house by the time I get back between the bacon, cakes, cinnamon buns, etc.

Tinami Amori
06-24-2012, 01:23 AM
I'll be there from July 22-25. Budget is pretty flexible...basically I tend to go for whatever is clean, safe, and convenient at the lowest price and that depends on the city. I'd like to keep it below $100/70 Euro if possible, but that's not an absolute budget limit.

Here is the list of hotels 80-110 USD per night (1 room/2 people) for July 22-25 in Berlin, in the central rectangle around the Brandenburg Gate/Unter Den Linden/Museum Island.

Please note the basic prices cover only room and sometimes local taxes (make sure you read price notes for each hotel). Breakfast, Wi-Fi and other amenities maybe at additional cost. The hotel rooms maybe very basic, minimal service, but my main purpose was is to find a 5***** location in the heart of Berlin for a 2** price.

Small disclaimer. I have an access to IATA members hotel data-base, but I am not a travel agent and do not have “guest review” statistics for each hotel. So please check reviews for hotel of your interest.

I have not stayed at all of these hotels myself. I am very familiar with central Berlin in this instance, and in general when travel do pay attention to tourist accommodations and hotel locations, to later help myself, my business associates, friends and relatives with travel arrangements. I can pretty much guarantee best price for given central location. But you do need to evaluate for your self the Quality of the rooms and services.


Choice 1 - Maritim Hotels - proArte Berlin (rooms available – if you like it – take it! because it will not get better for location vs. price vs. middle of summer for close to 100 usd). My friends stayed there, and liked it.
http://www.maritim.com/en/hotels/germany/proarte-hotel-berlin

Choice 2 – Melia Berlin (rooms available – if you like it better than proArte– take it! because it will not get better for location vs. price vs. middle of summer for close to 100 usd – but it is few block up north from Unter Den Linden on the river bank. It’s 102 usd for 2 people, room only). 1 person I know stayed there and said it was pretty OK for the price.

Choice 3 – Best Western Hotel Berlin-Mitte. (rooms available – it’s on the other side of the river close to Melia Berlin and Train Station. I am not crazy about the area, but it is safe and convenient and within few blocks from central attractions and the must-sees. If you search on BW’s general website – make sure you specify “Mitte” location in Berlin)
http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/DE/Berlin-hotels/BEST-WESTERN-Hotel-Berlin-Mitte/Hotel-Overview.do?propertyCode=95368

Choice 4 – NH Berlin Friedrichstrasse/Hotel Jolly Vivaldi (central very convenient location, price is great given the location, service/rooms/amenities MINIMAL). If the price vs. location is the main criteria – this hotel is acceptable. If one wants pleasant hotel experience for hotel itself – may not be the place – everything is minimal, clean, safe, but minimal, and the building is ugly (imho).
The official website is down for maintenance.
http://www.nh-hotels.com/error/503.html?nhagentid=10166&nhsubagentid=101660000000&gclid=COWPrrjJ5bACFUQaQgodJDtm2Q&oodc=6566&source=adwords
If you can’t wait – use one of the hotel booking sites (comes out to the same price).
http://www.booking.com/hotel/de/jollyvivaldi.en.html
http://www.laterooms.com/en/hotel-reservations/98106_jolly-hotel-vivaldi-berlin.aspx


There are more hotels IN THE SAME PRICE RANGE (and not cheaper) further up North on the other side of the river, and further East away from Museum Island. The key word is “same price, but further from the central area”. If for some reason the 4 hotels above do not suite you, there is a B-list.


I can play Tallinn by ear since all I have to do is grab the ferry if I decided to do it. I'm leaning towards going, though, I've done a little bit of research and it looks pretty interesting. Although with me, all any city needs to do is say they have an Old Town and I'm interested.

That sounds about right. If you have spare time - then why not see Tallin! It is not Brugge or Praha or Strassburgh... But after 1 week in Helsinki it would be nice for a change to see another city, like Vana (old) Tallin...:hat1:

And the souvenir of the City is easy to find - anything with a figure of Vana Toomas (Old Thomas).
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3503/3708249576_2331effa71_z.jpg
:rollin:

TAHbKA
06-24-2012, 03:38 PM
Reckon there will be enough advice on Berlin and Helsinki. I'd try going to the countryside in the middle of July - it should be gorgeous in Finland, while Helsinki might be a bit too hot.

Loved Tallinn (was there at 2008 for the first time in my life) - I spent most of the time in the old town (which is quite pleasant), and in Katriorg (I think this is what it's called - the Russian tsar's yet another residence). I thought it was lovely

kwanfan1818
06-24-2012, 06:45 PM
I think Tallinn is worth the trip just to eat the pelmeni at the Troika restaurant off the town square.

It's a beautiful city.

Finnice
06-24-2012, 07:47 PM
[QUOTE=TAHbKA;3602540 I'd try going to the countryside in the middle of July - it should be gorgeous in Finland, while Helsinki might be a bit too hot.[/QUOTE]

Helsinki is very seldom too hot, the sea breeze is cooling it down. I woulod suggest the Suomenlinna sea fortress as well, and also the terass up in hotel Torni, the wiew there is spectacular. Erin, what are your dates in Helsinki? In summer, there is some good theatre, many kinds of concerts and even modern dance.

Helsinki is quite small, so you can walk or take a tram nearly everywhere. If you like to see the countryside, I have some tips as well.

Hanna
06-25-2012, 12:03 PM
I think Tallinn can definitely be done in a day trip - there are several companies that have ferries running from early morning until late in the evening and it only takes 1,5 hours one way. The Old Town is easily within walking distance (about 1 km) from the ferry harbor in Tallinn. I'd just stroll around the Old Town (which is very pretty), have something to eat, buy the cinnamon-covered almonds that they sell there... Well that's what I usually do on day trips to Tallinn anyway :lol: but maybe someone else has another suggestion or two.

Helsinki in July is gorgeous (I may be biased but honestly, Helsinki in summer is probably my favorite city of anywhere I've been to). There's a pretty good chance the weather will be good. I think you already covered some of the must-see's like Suomenlinna (:swoon:). If you're into riding a bike, you should consider renting one (or maybe your brother has one) and riding around the bike lanes of the city. On a rainy day I'd take the 3T/3B tram (it's basically the same tram that does an 8-shaped route and is called 3T on one side and 3B on the other... so there's no need to change mid-way!), which is a real tourist tram but it takes you past all the interesting places. If you like, you can hop off at an interesting site, take a few pictures, and then catch the next one 5-10 minutes later and continue. ;)

It could also be fun trying the culture tram http://www.hsl.fi/EN/passengersguide/Pages/CultureTram.aspx which offers entertainment during the tram ride. :) Check out more info from the link! Oh and walk around the Market Square by the harbor and buy some berries, whichever are your favorites! :)

The Finnish summer is really beautiful so I'd also suggest spending a day or two in the countryside, if possible. Then again if you're going to be spending about 5 days here altogether (if I calculated correct) there maybe enough stuff to do only in Helsinki and maybe Porvoo (which also should be easily reached by bus and is a very pretty little town). Did I understand correct that your brother is living here? Does he have a car? The countryside can also be reached by train but naturally with a car it's always possible to stop wherever you like. Punkaharju (abour 2-3 hours by car from Helsinki) would be my personal suggestion - GORGEOUS.

I'm sure there was something else that I forgot... I'll get back to it! :)