This appears in Selling World Travel
I first heard about Berlin when I was about 8 years old. My father, an avid traveller himself, gently instilled in me a desire to see the
world by telling me of the numerous adventures he had on his travels. One such adventure was set in Berlin! But of course that would be another story.
Needless to say I added Berlin to the ever growing list of places I wanted to visit. (At this point I was too young to know its relevance in modern history.)
The very next year, the Wall came down.I remember seeing it on Doordarshan. I was now hell-bent on visiting Berlin. More so, when I later read about the four quarters of the Victors of World War II, the Blockade, the Wall, the Check Points.
My first opportunity came, a decade later on a student visit to Austria. I tried desperately to change my ticket to allow me a day or two to Berlin. This was one of many unsuccessful attempts I made over the next 10 years. One attempt was when I was already in Frankfurt and yet could not make it to Berlin.
So, when I got an opportunity to be part of the Audi R8 driving experience in Berlin en route to the Frankfurt Motor Show, I knew my time had come. I put both my feet down and managed to ticket myself in a way that allowed me a day to myself in Berlin!
They say good things come to those who wait. Indeed. Not only did I get my wish to visit Berlin, I also got an R8 Spyder to drive around the city courtesy Audi India. Things only got better. The weather, for starters, was fabulous and gave me an opportunity to take the top of the R8 down. Here I was driving
around this beautiful historic city, on its beautiful boulevards feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin. It was perfect! I couldn’t wait to go see Check Point Charlie!
Wait… let me start from the beginning.Upon landing in Berlin early in the morning on a sunny Saturday and getting my wheels (yup the R8) I rendezvoused with my guide and navigator for the day – Michael Perschke, Head of Audi India. With him giving directions and a running commentary on my surroundings, I slowly began to soak in Berlin.
I drove around the Victory Column (Siegessaule) a few times— which was easy, since it stands in the middle of a traffic roundabout- taking in its grandeur. The monument was built to commemorate the victory of Prussia over Denmark, Austria and France (in three separate wars also referred to as the unification wars) and the establishment of the 2nd Reich (Kingdom of Prussia) in 1873.
Taking one of the exits from the round-about, we headed to Brandenburg Tor, where I got my first glimpse of the remains of the Berlin Wall. (It is now a two-brick thick flat in-lay in the road. I had goose bumps as I drove over it thinking of all those who lost their lives trying to breach it.)
The Tor’ with the Quadriga perched above it, is a major tourist hot spot. Apart from being a magnificently imposing structure, it is also a bygone
symbol of a city that was politically and geographically divided.