It's a dark and icy afternoon as we head through quiet streets towards Warsaw's Nożyk Synagogue. It's an unassuming location, tucked away behind the buildings that face onto Ulica Twarda and Plac Grzybowski.

The synagogue was designed by Leandro Marconi, who was also responsible for the design of Warsaw's Great Synagogue.

Warsaw's oldest active synagogue.
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It seem like most travel guides focus on Warsaw's old town. Consult most Varsovians (is it just me who thinks that word sounds like something out of Dr Who?) and you'll most likely get pointed in that direction by them too. So what, then, am I doing heading away from the old town, down Ulica Marszałkowska (Marshal Street)?

One of Warsaw's major thoroughfares, with some impressive socialist-realist architecture.
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Some weekends are made for exploring; others seem to be made more for sitting by the fire watching the snow fall. This one is definitely heading in the latter direction, helped no end by the roaring fire and comfy chairs in the friend's house where I'm staying. Am I going soft on you all? I might well be...

Before we declare the spirit of adventure completely dead and buried, though, it's time for a wander out into the snow-covered roads, fields and woods which surround Warsaw's outlying towns.

I visit the Pa Ta Taj stables outside Warsaw and enjoy a hot chocolate in front of an open fire.
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You know that feeling of when someone seems to be giving a present for all the wrong reasons? That was, I suspect, exactly what the people of Warsaw felt when Josef Stalin gave them the Josef Stalin Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina) as a present in 1952. Like with Berlin's Stalinallee, Stalin's name was removed from the building's title in the destalinisation process which followed his death, but the building itself has survived to the present day.

A socialist-realist skyscraper that dominates the Warsaw skyline - a 'gift' to the people of Warsaw from Josef Stalin.
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Berlin-Warszawa Express is a very evocative name to me. It conjures up so many more images than, say, EC45, which is this service's other name (there are several trains a day, each with a different number). It seems to evoke a bygone (and possibly non-existent) age when train journeys were full of mystery and adventure.

My trip across a snow-covered Europe on the Berlin-Warszawa Express.
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The baroque palace of Schloss Charlottenburg is an impressive sight at any time of year, but it's particularly atmospheric in the snow. It's snowing quite heavily by the time I arrive, the snowflakes swirling in the lights of the market. It doesn't prove too easy to take a photo, as the fine-flaked snow seems keen to find its way into my camera.

S-Bahn: 
Westend (S41, S42, S46)
U-Bahn: 
Richard-Wagner-Platz (U7)
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Fun in the snow at Schloss Charlottenburg's Christmas market.

This post refers to the service provided before the takeover of bmi by IAG, and is left here purely for historical interest. Flights to Berlin are no longer available through bmi.

This post refers to the service provided before the takeover of bmi by IAG, and is left here purely for historical interest. Flights to Berlin are no longer available through bmi.

"Cancel the Christmas getaway!" says the headline on the morning's paper. It's a bit late now, though.

I sit at the panoramic window of bmi's Great British lounge, relaxing with a cup of coffee and a bowl of porridge as the sun rises to reveal a grey morning at London Heathrow.


Lurking in the British Pathé archives is an undated clip of an aircraft arriving at the Royal Air Force's Berlin base at Gatow. It taxis, comes to a stop and a figure steps out, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Commander in Chief of the British occupying forces in Germany. On the plane's side, just by the tail, we see the registration: KN628

I promised exciting things and, with a little help from the nice people at bmi, I have exciting things, in the shape of the latest Berlin expedition.

bmi's been flying from London Heathrow to Berlin Tegel since March this year and this time they've invited me to come and sample all the fine things they have to offer, at their expense...how could I refuse?

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