Berlin

Berlin

Currently sitting on a Flixbus somewhere outside Berlin en route to Krakow, Poland, we contemplate what we have experienced over the last three days in Berlin.

We had heard place names such as Brandenburger Tor, Potsdamer Platz, Kurfürstendamm and Check Point Charlie many times but had never visited Berlin, despite living so close for many years. Growing up in Denmark we could not fathom how they could, or why they would build a wall in Berlin. The wall was built 3 years before I was born. During my youth, this was just the way it was. We had both visited the eastern block, Prague, me in ’81 and Di in ’83. It became much clearer to us what it meant to live under a communistic regime, where you were not allowed to leave your country without permission. A freedom we have taken for granted our entire lives. 

Our accommodation, Pension Ingeborg, was located about 4 kilometres from the centre and with so many sights to see and a fairly short period of time we tried something new to us; a two day hop-on hop-off bus tour pass. 

We have crossed into to Poland now. Country number 27 in our quest to travel to 50 countries within 50 months. A quick restroom break and we have a flat white coffee in hand. So far the Polish highway is terribly bumpy. So bumpy I need to take a break from writing. 

The washboard road conditions lasted for about an hour and thankfully we are back on smooth highway. We cross our fingers it lasts for the remaining five hours of our journey. 

Reviewing our stay in Berlin we both agree it was a worthwhile stop. It was interesting to visit a city so noticeably marked by a wall dividing it into East and West for almost thirty years. A wall Berliners were ashamed off. Lessons have been learned from this and it was interesting to see how openly the Germans have chosen to share their dark history. A reunified Germany has changed the city into a modern metropolis. Construction and renovations are underway everywhere. This city has moved on, yet signals - we must never forget. 

 We celebrate we are on the road again after our prolonged stay in Denmark. Dinner on the Kurfürstendamm.

We celebrate we are on the road again after our prolonged stay in Denmark. Dinner on the Kurfürstendamm.

 
 A couple of guys admire a relic bike along Kurfürstendamm.

A couple of guys admire a relic bike along Kurfürstendamm.

 
 Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Bombed during the Second World War and never rebuilt.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Bombed during the Second World War and never rebuilt.

 
 Potsdamer Platz. Almost completely rebuilt after it was heavily bombed during the Second World War and then laid to waste during the cold war.

Potsdamer Platz. Almost completely rebuilt after it was heavily bombed during the Second World War and then laid to waste during the cold war.

 
 Check Point Charlie has turned into a tourist trap with souvenir shops everywhere and museums on every corner competing for your tourist euros. You can pay to have your photo taken at the check point if you so desire. We found a very good info/photography exhibit on the corner across form Check Point Charlie, which gave valuable insight to the wall/border areas and the extent East Germany went to keep people on the Eastern side of the wall.

Check Point Charlie has turned into a tourist trap with souvenir shops everywhere and museums on every corner competing for your tourist euros. You can pay to have your photo taken at the check point if you so desire. We found a very good info/photography exhibit on the corner across form Check Point Charlie, which gave valuable insight to the wall/border areas and the extent East Germany went to keep people on the Eastern side of the wall.

 
 A section of the wall is preserved along Niderkirchnerstraße. An info/photography exhibit describes in depth the year 1933 when Hitler and the Nazi Party took power in Germany. It was a moving and frightening display. The violence, the book burnings, the dissolution of unions, of opposing political parties. A long list of names and photos of targeted Berliners, who were either murdered or took their own lives. A somber mood was detected in most of the crowd. A small group caught my eye as they rushed through the exhibit snapping photos with their cell phones, laughing smugly and quickly moving on.

A section of the wall is preserved along Niderkirchnerstraße. An info/photography exhibit describes in depth the year 1933 when Hitler and the Nazi Party took power in Germany. It was a moving and frightening display. The violence, the book burnings, the dissolution of unions, of opposing political parties. A long list of names and photos of targeted Berliners, who were either murdered or took their own lives. A somber mood was detected in most of the crowd. A small group caught my eye as they rushed through the exhibit snapping photos with their cell phones, laughing smugly and quickly moving on.

 
 The famous Brandenburger Tor where the wall finally came down in 1989.

The famous Brandenburger Tor where the wall finally came down in 1989.

 
 Di almost disappears at the holocaust memorial, 2711 concrete slabs of different heights covering 19,000 square metres, near the Brandenburger Tor. The memorial is on a slight slope and its wave-like form is different wherever you stand.

Di almost disappears at the holocaust memorial, 2711 concrete slabs of different heights covering 19,000 square metres, near the Brandenburger Tor. The memorial is on a slight slope and its wave-like form is different wherever you stand.

 
 The impressive Berlin Mall. It took us 15 minutes to find the washrooms. ¢0.50 to use the bathroom hier bitte.

The impressive Berlin Mall. It took us 15 minutes to find the washrooms. ¢0.50 to use the bathroom hier bitte.

 
 Dark clouds hang over the St. Hedwig's Cathedral, (catholic church) in Berlin. Reading the news from Pennsylvania this week it is easy to understand why.

Dark clouds hang over the St. Hedwig's Cathedral, (catholic church) in Berlin. Reading the news from Pennsylvania this week it is easy to understand why.

 
 The Neue Wache memorial was a surprise. Built originally as a guard house, it now houses a memorial to the victims of war and dictatorship. An enlarged version of  Käthe Kollwitz 's sculpture  Mother with her Dead Son,  sits directly below the oculus surrounded by silence. It is a very powerful visual. It is also the home of the unknown soldier and the unknown concentration camp victim.

The Neue Wache memorial was a surprise. Built originally as a guard house, it now houses a memorial to the victims of war and dictatorship. An enlarged version of Käthe Kollwitz's sculpture Mother with her Dead Son, sits directly below the oculus surrounded by silence. It is a very powerful visual. It is also the home of the unknown soldier and the unknown concentration camp victim.

 
 We had no train to catch but made a stop at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, Main Train Station. An impressive architectural accomplishment, completed on time for the 2006 soccer World Cup.

We had no train to catch but made a stop at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, Main Train Station. An impressive architectural accomplishment, completed on time for the 2006 soccer World Cup.

 
 View of Großer Tiergarten Park and downtown Berlin from the Victory Column. The 67m column (283 steps) commemorates the Prussian-Danish war in 1864.

View of Großer Tiergarten Park and downtown Berlin from the Victory Column. The 67m column (283 steps) commemorates the Prussian-Danish war in 1864.

 
 Walking back to Pension Ingeborg took us through Großer Tiergarten. A beautiful park bordering the zoo.

Walking back to Pension Ingeborg took us through Großer Tiergarten. A beautiful park bordering the zoo.

 
 The area around Kurfürstendamm with it's quaint shops and cafés is almost as charming as Di.

The area around Kurfürstendamm with it's quaint shops and cafés is almost as charming as Di.