I made my reservations and bought my tickets directly from Lufthansa, by going to their office by the Madeleine square in Paris (near Maxim's), a very classical agency that does not exist anymore.
The trip plan:
Departure : August 24th 1996; Departure CDG Terminal 1, flight LH 4353, 10:05 AM arrival Berlin-Tegel 11:45 AM
Return: August 30th Berlin-Tegel , flight LH 4412, 17:10, arrival CDG Terminal 1 18:50.
In 1996, CDG's Terminal 1 was definitely showing signs of ageing, but still it was not as bad as it is today.
The CDG-TXL and the TXL-CDG flights were short and uneventful on board of Lufthansa Boeing 737-500s.
Photo © AirNikon
The airliners were in great shape, the grey leather seats were good and the F/As were quite nice; but then again it was a short flight. The LH meal consisted of a choice of soft drinks and sandwiches (Ham or Cheese) that were served twice.
In 1996, construction works were in full swing in Berlin. Although a book would probably be not enough to share my impression of this superb city, a few quick pictures may give you an idea:
The Parliament building was being restored; in preparation to the return of german legislators to Berlin.
Even Charlie was getting a facelift...
A segment of the wall...What happened within a few years was still beyond beleif.
This sculture is supposed to be the unified version of a more famous monument (broken chains) that symbolized the city's division and stood in West Berlin.
Brandenburg's gate was no longer a dead end, one could continue to the East via the famous Unter den Linden avenue.
The DDR Parliament (Palace of the People) was covered in part with graffity and closed to the public. A sign said that asbetos decontamination was under way. At the time it wasn't clear whether the building was going to be demolished or not. In the background, the TV tower with its Disco ball observatory, a DDR landmark.
The Pergamon Museum exceeds everybody's imagination. Remains of Greek temples, including the Pergamon Altar seen above, but also Babylon's Ishtar gate and the Arabian Mshatta Palace (Jordan) Walls are displayed there.
The Jewish quarter by Oranierburger Strasse was neglected by the DDR governments as it shows on the buiding to the right. Several buildings were already being restored.
Back to the West and to aviation: Tempelhof airport is the biggest buiding in the city. The monument there commemorates the allied air-bridge that supplied West Berlin during the Soviet blockade.
Another view of Tempelhof. The airport was busy with domestic and regional flights (Sabena flew there for e.g).
Anhalter Bahnhof, only the facade remains of this train station; a very vibrant reminder of war...
During my trip, I also took the time to visit Schoenefeld Airport, which used to be East Berlin's gateway and Interflug's hub. Of course, I synchronized my visit with MEA's cedarjet:
ME205 had just arrived from Beirut. The observation terrace was the best I've ever seen in Europe. Other airliners I saw there that day, Olympic 737, Elal 737 (also seen in the photo) and of course, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 747, that seemed even more huge from the relatively tiny airport terminal.
I took the time to grab some Interflug memorabilia before leaving:
My days in Berlin were pretty intense with also other visits to places I won't detail here (Potsdam, Dahlem, Tiergarten...). Having grown up in a divided city myself (Beirut did not have a wall, it had the infamous Green Line, a confrontation interface of destroyed buidings, fraught with snipers and all sorts of dangers) and having known checkpoints, crossings, and the organic smells that you sense when wilderness takes over an urban landscape; there were times when my heart was overwhelmed.
Berlin has since risen back to its much deserved rank among Europe's decision making capitals, and as the beating heart of Germany's democracy.
This was my first trip report on A.net, I apologize for the few and low resolution photos (This is a retrospective report and I did not have a digital camera at the time). I hope that you'll enjoy it and don't hesitate if you have questions and/or comments.