1. Charlottenburg Palace, April 2013. Planning a city break in Berlin? Even with the German capital’s abundance of sights, you should still try and clear a half-day in your schedule for this magnificent former summer residence. Named in honor of Sophie Charlotte, the first Queen consort in Prussia, this exquisite baroque structure boasts opulent apartments, priceless art, historical treasures and a simply gorgeous stretch of public gardens.
1. Schwetzingen Palace, November 2008. In late 2008 I undertook my second visit to Germany. I’d recently gotten married and my wife was a Dutch girl whose mother’s side of the family hailed from Deutschland. Living in Brussels, the two of us made the four-hour drive to Wiesental, a small village in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Hanging out with Grandma turned out to be much more fun than expected, what with her sublime home-cooked apple strudel and engaging Second World War stories. There was also the ludicrous TV program we all watched that night, where unreasonably blond, blue-eyed men sang accordion-driven songs about their love for the German countryside whilst dancing around trees and stroking deer. But as entertaining as it all was, the weekend’s highlight was our visit to nearby Schwetzingen Palace, an eighteenth century royal residence set amid a complex of beautifully landscaped gardens.
1. Somewhere In Cologne, September 2008. Choosing the location for my stag weekend was not a decision I took lightly. My dream had always been Las Vegas, but when push came to shove it proved a financial commitment too great for most of my chosen ones. I then flirted with the idea of Pamplona, but for me it absolutely had to be during the running of the bulls and this time availability was the issue. In the end I made a practical decision that worked out well for everyone. I was living in Brussels at the time, so the German city of Cologne was just a two-hour train-ride away, also perfect for my fellow Brussels-dwellers Chris and Erik. For my soon to be brother-in-law meanwhile, it was a similarly stress-free trip up from Amsterdam, while my good friends Steve, Steve and Ad grabbed an inexpensive flight over from London. Only Jon, the trooper that he was, had to fly halfway across the world from Nashville, Tennessee. But then he was the best man and sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. This photo, taken during the first night’s festivities, is a special one in that it’s always had something of a Reservoir Dogs feel. I will refrain from suggesting who Mr. Pink is.
1. TV Tower, April 2013. My six-night stay in Berlin was a memorable one for a few reasons. I rarely treat myself to fancy hotels, but when S and I booked this city break we decided to get a swanky place right on Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s mammoth public square. It was a great central location, just a four-minute walk from Berliner Fernsehturm (The TV Tower). Climbing up to its lofty top floor, we were met with menacing grey skies, which rendered the resulting views pleasingly moody. I can still recall standing there gazing out across Germany’s capital, excited by the prospect of all the places we’d yet to discover. It was the first day of our trip and neither of us had any idea it would be our final adventure together.