Post by madamtrashheap on Aug 20, 2012 5:34:26 GMT -5
To answer your first question, I'd be inclined to do your first option. With that, you can also take day/half day trips to places like Sachsenhausen (concentration camp on outskirts of Berlin) or Sanssouci (amazing Summer palace of Frederick the Great near Potsdam which is easily reached by train from Berlin). You can also spend time getting to know the city as there is plenty to do, even at the start of Winter, just take a warm coat and warm shoes as it can be a windy chilly place even at that time of year.
For your layover in Helsinki, you should have no trouble leaving the airport, you can store your luggage in lockers for a fee if you need to, but I'm guessing you'll check your luggage all the way to Berlin when you first check in at your departure point. And you'll go through immigration on the way out and getting back in, so take your ticket, passport (of course), and other day bag items with you. Also check the conditions of your flight ticket - shouldn't be a restriction in terms of first point of entry to Europe, but best to check.
It's not a cheap place, and traffic can be annoying if you don't allow enough time to get back from the city centre to the airport, so make sure you go to the tourist information desk for a map and some details before you leave the airport. And there's a Finnair bus which will be the cheapest way into the city (taxi will cost a fair bit). At that time of year, you may already find snow in Helsinki, but of course it depends as 2 years ago the snow was quite late so you might get away with it. Either way, it will be a little chilly ;D
Thanks for the advice MTH! In the end I went with the second option, but kept 4 nights for Berlin. I started with Dresden, followed by Berlin, then Prague, then Helsinki.
My main takeaway is to really budget time wisely, particularly given the short trip. It took me 22 hours to get from Southeast Asia to Dresden, so there was too much time wasted on travelling. Also, it was really too short to see everything in Prague with 2 nights, all the more with dusk starting at 4ish and us arriving in Prague at 12pm on the first day. Will definitely pay a visit back to Prague.
And yes, Helsinki was really expensive. But the journey was surprisingly smooth into town, thankfully. Even had some time to spend back at the airport before my flight. I did wish that it snowed during the trip, but nope, I missed the snow unfortunately.