Tuesday, 23 June 2015

All Berlin's Tourist Buses Go to Checkpoint Charlie

I've just arrived in Berlin and started to assemble a Tour of All Tours of the city for this weekend's B-Tour Festival. I'll be making my tour in the city-centre and talking about the city as a whole. My starting point, Checkpoint Charlie, is so much worse than I remember it. It really is quite ideal! There is not just one Checkpoint Charlie museum but three separate, competing attractions all vying for the tourist's euros. That's to say nothing of the tours that pass by here, such as this Segway tour. This place is pure tourism whereas my endpoint, Brandenburger Tor, does at least combines tourism with something else: politics.

Something that has immediately struck me is the large number of bus tours that operate in Berlin and come this way. 

I took a short walk around my tour area and started looking out for the competition. The reason for this abundance of buses, I can only imagine, is the distribution of the tourist attractions across the city. If they were all within walking distance or, if there were enough packed together, then walking tours would be more popular. 

Some of these buses offer live commentary and some of them simply play recordings, in multiple languages, over headphones.

I saw City Sightseeing are running a bus operation here. I am familiar with them from having taken and reviewed their Bath bus tour. This has got me thinking that I will be drawing heavily on previous tours, such as that one, in order to describe the tours that take place here in Berlin. I will add a few unique to city too; I'm heading over to the Holocaust Memorial to take their audio tour as soon as the rain lets up today. Together, they should comprise a full-length hybrid tour of Berlin and the tourist imagination more widely. I have 3 days to put this tour together so it will be fast and furious stuff!

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