18 October 2017
We recently enjoyed a fantastic team trip to Berlin – one of our interior designers, Louise, has written a blog piece on what we got up to…
Our trip began with a very turbulent flight from Newcastle airport across to Berlin. A storm was churning away over the German capital as we came in to land, and the walk to the taxi rank alone left most of us seriously questioning our packing decisions!
After check-in at the hotel, the whole team gathered in the bar for the first (and definitely not the last) drink, and then set off for our evening meal in a local steakhouse. After dinner we all headed to the ‘Monkey Bar’, a loungy sky bar on the 10th floor of a high-rise boutique hotel. The views over the night skyline were incredible, and with everyone getting in the spirit of the weekend and Brian in charge of the ordering, gin and tonics were obligatory.
Friday got off to an early (albeit a little fragile) start with a 9am tour of the incredible Reichstag building. We were met by a guide who showed us around the various levels of the iconic building, which has been held by numerous administrations throughout Berlin’s turbulent history, and redesigned by Norman Foster in the 1990s to serve as the German parliament building. The reconstruction showcases the layers of the history, with soviet graffiti and stonemasons marks preserved as part of a ‘living museum’.
A powerful installation creates a corridor using a wall of stacked metal despatch boxes, each with the names of Germanys elected parliamentary members from 1919 – 1999.
We were invited to sit within the plenary chambers illuminated by the glass skylight of the iconic cupola structure above, and then head upwards for the highlight of the tour – the incredible mirrored dome with viewing platforms over the entire city, as well as views down into the government chambers below. The structure symbolises the transparency between the German government and the people, as well as the democratic ideal of ‘people above government’.
The afternoon allowed for free time and the team split into groups for an activity of their choice. Myself and a group of brave others were tempted into the hilarious segway tour around some of the city’s sightseeing highlights. Our knowledgeable and equally humorous guide Javier gave us a brief driving lesson, and then all kitted out in our attractive helmet and red waterproof outfits, we set off onto the roads of Berlin (yes – the actual roads). After a slightly apprehensive start, we were soon whizzing along in single file between destinations, probably annoying the life out of the surround traffic but having great fun all the while.
The group then reconvened for an afternoon workshop with our friend Nigel Paton, who led a session on team culture in which we were challenged to take a step back and reflect on our business. We talked about the roles we each play individually, as well as the way we work together as a collective, and were left feeling motivated to continue to work hard and to be ambitious.
Friday night followed on as all good Friday nights should – good company, food, and alcohol! Dinner was at a typical German restaurant at Potsdamer Platz, complete with massive steins and portions alike.
Our final morning was another early start as the whole team gathered to be some of the first into the TV tower at Alexanderplatz. 203m off the ground, the spherical viewing platform gives a 360 degree bird’s eye view of Berlin, with landmarks and areas highlighted for information. Excellent to really see Berlin as a whole – a definite must for anyone visiting.
As our trip drew to a close we managed to fit in a look at the Bauhaus Archive, a good way to finish off a fantastically organised and interesting trip. Our time in Berlin was a great opportunity to explore such a diverse and vibrant city with so much history, as well as to come together as a team and have fun. Thank you to all who organised, interested to see how we could attempt to top it next year…the bar has been set!