Back to Berlin, my dear readers! This post will be dedicated to, hmm, Berlin heights, at least to those spots that we visited. Let's start with the very famous and important landmark...
The TV tower! It's the tallest building in Germany and sort of a symbol for Berlin, and you can really see it from so many locations in the city. The antenna reaches the height of 368.03 m (1,207.45 ft) while the visitor platform is just a bit over 200 meters. Hmm, there are at least two visitor floors though, because there is a revolving restaurant up the stairs from the floor where the elevators stop. (I'm not sure if the restaurant tables have to be reserved beforehand, we only visited the bar on the "elevator" floor.)
Getting to the tower is not simple and fast, though. Depending on the time of the day, the queues to the elevators may be very long! When you go buy a ticket, you will get a number, and then there are screens which tell when certain numbers may head for the security check and elevators. Basically, you can leave the tower and come back when your turn is closer – however, when your time really comes, you'll have to get yourself to the entrance in ten minutes or otherwise you've just lost your turn. But yeah, it can take long – I think we waited for over an hour. And as I said, there's a security check. All kind of bottles are among the forbidden items, so you might want to remember that if you're carrying a water bottle or something.
There was a funny elevator boy operating the machine, and on our way up, he quickly summarized the most important facts about the tower and the lift (such as the speed, shamefully, I cannot remember it) first in German and then in English. He ended the English explanation (which he had probably had to repeat more than once or twice while working there!) by adding in a smooth flow "...and nobody's listening", which greatly amused us, and we got to point out that we did. Not sure if he really had expected no one to be listening and thus paying attention to his remark.
And now, some scenes from up there:
In the top right corner you can see Brandenburger Tor. The "forest" is Tiergarten.
That's just so... eastern.
The tower entrance fee is 11.50€ (and –25% with Berlin Welcome Card!) and it's worth it – the views are simply awesome! You can see pretty much "everything", and there are photos and texts of the most important places which you can see in a certain direction and such. And are you afraid of heights? Don't worry, despite the remarkable height the TV tower isn't a frightening place! When you are up there, it really doesn't feel like you were as high as you are. Besides, you cannot look so directly down from there that you'd get very dizzy. So if you only have a mild fear of heights, do not skip a visit to the TV tower.
Having some beer up there was necessary as well. :D Finns like us can say that the top bar wasn't as expensive as you could expect it to be. It was more pricey than the bars on the ground level of Berlin, but still reasonable for sure. Cheap from a Finn's point of view.
The next height spot is the Victory Column. It's roughly at the half way of Straße des 17. Juni, at Großer Stern, a big junction of several (big) streets. Since it is in the middle of the intersection, you don't cross the streets in order to get there but use a tunnel under the streets instead.
The entrance fee was small, a few euros or something. There's a small museum on the bottom level presenting different signs of victory from all over the world. And then, the stairs up to the tower...
From the mouth of the tunnel
Up on the panorama platform – see the TV tower roughly in the middle of the photo.
So, yeah... I mentioned stairs. No elevator. I'm not saying the climb was physically too challenging – the whole tower is only 66.89 meters tall. However, the spiral staircase was very narrow – passing those who were going in the different direction was a bit of a challenge. Besides, I was wearing high heels – wouldn't have if I had known we were going there, but it was our spontaneous idea on the day of departure, and since I was about to travel in the heaviest shoes I had with me, well... Now I can tell you: don't climb up there in high heels. Just a friendly suggestion.
And the platform up there? It was just as cramped as the staircase. And as you can see, an open-air platform, so you could feel the wind up there and... See much more directly down from where you were standing than in the TV tower. I'm not the type to panic easily, and well, I didn't, but I did feel quite anxious. So yeah, feeling a bit rickety myself, and realizing that no wait, there's absolutely no way to evacuate this tower quickly if necessary... Not a comfortable feeling. To me it also felt like the platform had been slanting. Sure, we were in a cage, but still. I tried to take photos of the golden statue on the platform, but I just couldn't stand there like that, looking up and holding the camera high too, with the rail behind my back.
The conclusion: if you are afraid of heights or cramped places, you are likely to feel very uncomfortable up in Siegessäule! Seriously, I don't even recommend it to anyone who think they might feel anxious up there. I'm happy that I went there once – I am adventurous like that and want to experience such things, but I might not want to go again. Even though the height of Siegessäule is just a fraction of that of Fernsehturm's, it feels much, much worse. You'll certainly feel more secure in 200 metres.
Siegessäule photographed from the back side of Brandenburger Tor.
Until next time, so long!