After Paris, my next stop was Berlin, capital of Germany! Actually, before I left I was told that Berlin was a bit “eh” because much of the history was absolutely flattened during WWII by the bombing. But I still went and I still found it absolutely fascinating the history. The city itself is actually really nice, it’s actually not at capacity like other European cities and is comparatively cheap.
First stop of the trip (cause it was wet), was Musee Insel! An island in Berlin that houses multiple museums. I didn’t realise that the Germans actually took a lot of stuff from their various colonies and areas they explored (not just the British that are guilty). The Pergamon Museum, which was flattened during WWII basically – you can still see the burn marks, houses some amazing stuff including the Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus.
I found this place on either TripAvisor or Yelp, but it’s highly recommended and the burgers here are amazing! It’s just opposite a U-Bahn stop as well so super easy to get to.
TIP: If you’re in Berlin for a few days, get the Berlin Welcome Card (AB if you’re in the city or ABC if you want to get to the airport). It gives you discounts and unlimited travel on public transport! The public transport system in Berlin is amazing, you simply validate your ticket and it works on an honour system. There are no ticket barriers, just the platform right onto the subway/train. Of course, there are ticket inspectors but I only ever got checked once on the S-Bahn to the airport.
The Brandenburg Gates. Just imagine Napoleon riding through these gates as he conquered Europe!
The Berlin TV Tower, located in the former Soviet sector near Alexanderplatz, was designed to be a symbol of the strength and ability of Soviet engineering (and the GDR), towering over all Berlin. It is the fourth tallest free standing structure in Europe! There’s a restaurant and viewing tower at the top but unfortunately it was very foggy the day I visited so I didn’t go.
While I was in Berlin, Assad had already been rampaging through Syria and killing his own people. This was some art work on display sprayed on sections from the old wall. I thought that it was very symbolic. The Netanyahu question is itself very interesting as well.
Tempelhof was one of Berlin’s former airports and one of Europe’s most iconic airports in the early 20th century. It was actually surprisingly well designed (well, not surprising, it’s German). It has a massive canopy that planes could park directly under hence shielding passengers from the elements. It too has a WWII history, the new terminal building being built as a part of Albert Speers design from a new German capital, Germania. It was also a part of the Berlin Airlift (see below).
The Berlin airlift must have been one of the greatest aviation achievements in history. After WWII, Germany was divided up between the conquering powers. As Berlin lay within the Soviet zone, the Allies decided that the capital should also be divided up between them. All was well and good until the Soviets decided to blockade Berlin (as they could) forcing West Berlin to capitulate and ask to join with Soviet controlled East Berlin. Long story short, the Western powers were having none of this and used the air corridors that the Soviets did not control to basically fly in provisions to West Berlin. Given the technology at the time and the amount of goods that were required to be flown in to provide for a whole city, this is absolutely incredible. Go read up on Wikipedia about the Berlin Blockade. This is the memorial to the Berlin Airlift showing the three air corridors used.
Of course, following the flattening of the city in WWII, many buildings had to be rebuilt. And some places took the opportunity to approach their designs a little bit differently, much like this church in West Berlin. Over on the eastern side, the Soviets took a far more conservative approach and restored many of the original buildings (perhaps they thought that new buildings and a communist system would be too much, I mean have you seen Soviet era buildings? They aren’t that pretty).
Of course, we stopped off at a Beer Garden for lunch and schnitzel.
The new building for the Chancellor. Shame I didn’t get to see Angela.
The Reichstag. Apparently you can buy tickets to go to the top of the dome with provides some impresssive views over Berlin. This was the location of the Reichstag fire which Hitler used to basically get the parliament to hand over all their powers and dissolve the constitution of the Weimar Republic.
This carpark is a very interesting stop. It’s not really publicised much and for good reason. This is actually the location of the Fuhrerbunker where Hitler spent his last days of WWII, married Eva Braun and committed suicide. It is now a parking lot with various multicultural shops like a Chinese restaurant around the corner (take that Hitler!). Apparently, the remains of the bunker are still under the parking lot. For obvious reasons, people have decided that it should remain that way and not be dug up.
Right in the middle of Berlin you will come across these strange grey blocks. This is actually the Jewish memorial. It’s great to see that they didn’t hide it somewhere outside of the city. I also like the fact that the blocks are open to interpretation as to what they mean. Apparently the original design of this was quite controversial.
This is one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall which seperated East from West. The wall was designed to stop East Berliners from emigrating to the West, althought that was not what the GDR propoganda said. For many residents, the wall was a complete surprise, it basically came up overnight which was a great problem for those who lived in the East but worked or had family in the West. It went through a number of iterations, each one becoming increasingly difficult to escape from. What I really love is that the original division still remains in place with a gold strip along the ground showing where the wall would have been before it was pulled down. It’s not loud and obnoxious and it’s very symbolic like many of the things in Germany that have been left behind as a remembrance of that era.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Germany without stopping for beer and a pork knuckle (how very Bavarian)
Checkpoint Charlie, one of the few crossing points between East and West Berlin where soldiers on each side could see each other and where Soviet and American tanks once faced each other in the Berlin Crisis. It became a symbol of the Cold War and represented the division between East and West.
I love shops with a great pun for a name. This references a Berlin cuisine of currywurst and Checkpoint Charlie.