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Berlin's network of lakes and rivers can be accessed by an armada of tour boats.

Something generally not known about Berlin, at least on this side of the Atlantic, is that it is a city of water and therefore one of boats and ships.

Berlin is crisscrossed by rivers and canals and dotted with lakes. It is said to have more bridges than Venice and its harbor, the historic Fischerinsel, is located in the heart of town.

A few kilometers to the southeast, the Müggelsee, the largest of Berlin's many lakes, is accessible by boat from the center. Likewise the wide river Havel and the beautiful Wannsee in the west. Prior to unification, many of these inland waterways were not open to Western visitors. We recall a boat trip on the Havel and Wannsee a few years ago that could only explore the non-Communist portions of these waters. The Eastern zone was marked by buoys beyond which our boat did not venture. Instead we drifted near the ominous floating markers and peered curiously at the communist world on shore.

Now, however, Berlin's entire network of lakes and rivers is accessible to a wide range of vessels from lake steamers to sail boats to row boats. Trips of from one hour to several days are offered and small boats can be rented. Many of the city's most important buildings and sights can be seen from the water, a more tranquil way of viewing the city.

Larger ships have on-board food service and several offer special programs. On the Wannsee, one can attend a Caribbean party with fireworks on the water, or dance by moonlight following an elegant dinner.

Excursions can be booked to Potsdam, the Müggelsee or, if one has a few days, to Szczecin in Poland, to Mecklenburg Vorpommern or even points beyond.

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Sightseeing, local transportation, tours, day excursions from Berlin