In December of 1987, (two years before the wall came down) the General Manager of the Grand Hotel in East-Berlin (today it is the Westin Grand Hotel Berlin) invited our General Manager and his management team on a tour of the newly built luxury hotel at the corner of 'Friedrichstrasse' and 'Unter den Linden'.
We were picked up by a mini-bus and shuttled through the border without any incident or delay. The General Manager greeted us and we were in awe by the impressive staircase in the lobby, the extravagant decoration of the restaurant and rooms. The tour included a fancy dinner and a one-night stay. We had not expected anything like this. The hotel was built for foreign tourists only, it did not accept East German currency, only Western money. We were told that a Japanese company had been hired to build the hotel and the government did not skimp on cost. (I looked up the history and it shows a construction cost of 200 million mark).
We left our gracious host, very impressed, and returned to our drab 1950s building, always in need of renovation and restoration.
Ahh, but the world is so small, and the irony of it all.....in 1992/1993 I moved offices with my boss (who in the meantime had taken over the head of the owning company of the East German hotel chain "Deutsche Interhotel AG"), to that very same Grand Hotel.
From my office window I looked out onto the historical and fancy Boulevard 'Unter den Linden' that ran from 'Alexanderplatz' to the 'Brandenburger Tor'.
Imagining that I would drive to that office every day in my little red VW Jetta was unthinkable in 1987.