Leaving Berlin

We headed out relatively early in the morning, though still after sunrise. There were a variety of options to get to Brandenburg Airport. We decided to take the U-Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof where there were more frequent options rather than going to some other station that could potentially be faster but required better timing. It ended up taking a bit more than an hour to get to the airport. Ultimately, we had a good amount of extra time but not too much before boarding.

We didn’t take any photos of The Westin Grand Berlin until this morning on our way out. The building’s exterior appearance is pretty typical of the structures in this area.

We walked over to the U-Bahn entrance that had an elevator on Unter den Linden as the other entrances required the use of stairs. This intersection, at Friedrichstra├če and Unter den Linden, was the first to have the Ampelmann pedestrian lights, though the current lights are not original. The Ampelmann store is here at this corner as well on the left.

The U-Bahn ride to the Hauptbahnhof was quick, just three stops away.

The Hauptbahnhof is a big structure with at least three levels of tracks. The building is enclosed under a glass canopy, resulting in a modern appearance. Our train, one of the Regio trains operated by the local transport company, was set to arrive on the upper set of tracks.

There was a big entrance on the south side of the station. It looked like there was a little food market on the plaza just outside. The Spree runs right by the station, just beyond the plaza, though it wasn’t visible to us while on the platform. We could, however, see the top of the Reichstag building, including its modern glass dome.

We ended up having to change to the other tracks on the same platform as ours ended up being occupied by a overnight sleeper train. The exterior of the carriages on that train looked ancient and made Amtrak’s 40+ year old cars look brand new in comparison!

Our train was pretty packed with people headed to the airport. But we did manage to easily find seats at the mid-level at the end of the double decker carriage that we entered.

Most of the experience at Brandenburg Airport ended up being OK. United Airlines check in was fast and efficient. Security was extremely slow, mainly because they didn’t have enough scanning lines open. We ended up having to go through it twice since we forgot that we had bought local linden honey from the Ampelmann store, and honey is considered a liquid. And indeed, the linden honey was very liquid! So I went back with the honey and a bag to check it. The second pass through was much faster since they had opened additional security lanes by then.

We decided to check out the Lufthansa Senator Lounge rather than the contract lounge that United uses. It ended up being a rather long walk as the gates were spaced far apart. It ended up being completely not worth the walk as the food options available in the lounge were pretty limited.

Our flight actually departed from a gate next to the lounge but due to the design of the airport regarding non-Schengen flights, we had to walk quite a distance to exit the Schengen area first before returning on the floor above.

I did get the dreaded SSSS when we checked in, requiring secondary screening when entering the US departure area after exiting Schengen, but that was extremely quick and efficient.

Overall, it was a great trip. Other than some DB related delays, everything went pretty smoothly. The weather was great, particularly during the day when we were out and about. There is still more we want to see in Germany, particularly the area around Munich, so hopefully we will be back soon!

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