As you might have noticed during our trip we did not stay in one place for very long. Berlin was no exception. We only spent one night in the city. So, after dropping off our bag at the apartment we were out exploring the city. We wanted to hit all the main WWII sights, cool government buildings, and of course museums. Berlin reminds me of New York with the new and old, art and music all combining to make a fun a lively city. So we bought a map and starting walking. Walking around Berlin is interesting because you see parts of the Berlin wall everywhere, outside malls, in public parks, crossing through grave yards. Most pieces have been made into art by graffiti, but others, outside of museums have been preserved. Another interesting thing about Berlin is there are large pink and blue above ground pipes running through the city. Some say it is because of the high water levels in Berlin, and others say that this was the quickest way to get water and waste in and out of he city after the wall fell. Either way it is still interesting.
Our first stop was Check Point Charley, which was a well known crossing point between East to West Berlin. The place was kind of like Niagara Falls, except instead of documenting all the ways people have tried going off the falls, it was of all in inventive ways people would try to escape East Berlin. It is profound to think that the way of life was dramatically different, and families were split by a wall.
Instead of stopping for lunch we snacked on bread, pretzels and chocolate along the street. The Ritter chocolate was definitely one of our favorite stops. There we each made a personalized chocolate bar and bought pounds of amazing chocolate for super cheep. If we had brought more than just backpacks we surely would have filled our luggage full of the stuff.
We then made our way to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. There we pondered and mourned all the lives lost during Hitler's rule. The memorial is simple, yet powerful. And for such a crowded city it takes up a good amount of space. With concrete pillars the dimensions of a grave. One could easily get lost in the maze like layout. Some visitors were thoughtful enough to bring flowers. The memorial has no explanation for its symbolism. Which I kind of like, it leaves each visitor to their own interpretation.
^^ saw this while walking the streets...
As day turned to night we made our way to the Reichstag building, which after a long history is now the meeting place of the German Parliament. The building is unique because of its glass dome which visitors can get a 360 view of Berlin. There is normally a long line and wait to scale the building, but with Lizzy all waiting was adverted and they lead us to the front of the line. Many said bringing a baby on this Europe trip would slow us down, but in some cases we got a lot of "special" treatment.
For dinner we asked some workers at the Reichstage building where to go and what to order. Three locals said that Schweinshaxe was their favorite traditional dish, but we could not leave Germany without trying Wiener Schnitzel as well. This is also where Lizzy seemed to take a true interest in what we were eating. Till then we had not really fed her solid food, but after that dinner we became more generous and letting her try most everything we ate.
After dinner we purposefully waited till after sunset to make our way back to the apartment. I really wanted to see and get pictures of the Brandenburg Gate at night. I mean, can you blame me?
The next day we had planned to spend time at Museum Island. Yet, due to construction/time of day all the museums were closed. So instead we went to the Topography of Terror, which is located at the former Gestapo Headquarters. It was a lot like the American War Crimes Museum we visited in Vietnam, but instead of being anti American it was anti Nazism. Makes me think how history is portrayed out of the eye of those who win the war.
It was interesting as we walked through the museum and other historical parts of the city, we could spot school groups taking notes and learning about the history that took place in these locations. Seeing as we study and hear a lot about WWII in the United States, the history in Berlin intrigued me more than any other place I have visited.
Before leaving Germany we took a little driving tour deeper into East Berlin. After leaving the city center there was a clear change into Soviet architecture, and art. Over the years after the Berlin wall fell you can see that porches and color has been added to what used to be simple apartment buildings, giving the place a lot more life. But other parts look like they came right out of a history book.
After we were satisfied with our time in Berlin we took our trip south to the Czech Republic.