See the changing face of Berlin with direct Glasgow flights
Since the fall of the wall, East Berlin has gradually been gentrified, with the vestiges of old East Germany being dismantled and westernized. Take the chance to wander around those streets before they are lost forever, with direct Glasgow flights.
Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flies direct to Berlin Schoenefeld from Glasgow. Fares start at £24.99 outbound and £25.08 for the return leg, including taxes. Baggage and credit card charges are extra, but travel light for your city break and you can find a round trip flight for under £60.
Schoenefeld airport was the major airport for East Berlin in the Cold War, and an appropriate introduction to the old East of the city, although it now has easy transit links to all parts of Berlin.
Vestiges of the Berlin Wall, 22 years after it came down, are hard to find. There is a small chunk by the bank of the Spree, known as the East Side Gallery, and a few slabs outside the Markisches Museum. Most of the Wall ended up in souvenir shops, in fragments sold off for 20 euros each.
The once-ominous Checkpoint Charlie, the former crossing point from the Soviet to American controlled sectors of Berlin is now just another tourist picture opportunity with young Berliners dressing up as DDR guards for the cameras.
The chilly, austere square of Alexanderplatz retains some traces of its socialist past, despite recent redevelopments. Its huge radio tower that was once meant to intimidate the west is now a handy navigational guide when you are wandering East Berlin’s occasionally confusing streets.
So much is disappearing so quickly that it is helpful to have a knowledgeable guide. Insider Tours (www.insidertour.com) whose staff include a former British intelligence officer and an East Berlin political activist, offer a Cold War Berlin tour for 12 euros. Here are all the stories of Russian and American spies, of desperate bids to escape across the Wall, of the daily life in Berlin under the Communist regime.
You end up on the windswept Unter Den Linden avenue by the Brandenburg Gate, still an evocative location in old Berlin. Now it is lined with shops selling T-shirts with the old DDR motif, darkly ironic historic souvenirs to take back on your Glasgow flights.