3 Days in Berlin is not enough!
Berlin Highlights: Brandenburger Tor, Potsdamer Platz, Kurfürstendamm and Check Point Charlie, and Potsdamer Platz
With so many attractions and rich history, we had not allowed enough time to explore Berlin. Hindsight is 20/20. We did, however, have a great time here and would love to return at a later point.
In this article:
Reasons to visit 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.
Where to stay in Berlin?
Our accommodation, Pension Ingeborg, was located in Kurfürstendamm, about 4 kilometers from the center. It proved to be a good choice. The room was small but the included breakfast buffet was amazing and made for a good start to long days of exploring the city. Pension Ingeborg was on the fourth floor with an ancient elevator and the building had a historic aura to it. We paid $85 per nights and booked with Expedia. We can recommend it.
This a vibrant area of Berlin with wide boulevards, shopping and an endless choice of restaurants and cafés. We had dinner in Kurfürstendamm on our first night and found plenty of tempting shops. Luckily you don’t have to worry too much about shopping when you are backpacking. It is not in the budget and very few items will actually fit in our backpacks. But what about that Leica M6 film camera I found on a side street from Kurfürstendamm at a reasonable $1000 Euro? It should fit!
Hop on Hop off Berlin
With so many sights to see in a fairly short period of time we tried something new to us; a two-day Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour pass. The cost was $37 per person for 2 days. This mode of transportation works really well for us and the route was well planned out with several interesting stops along the way. Earbuds were handed out on your first ride, pick your language and the informative voice guides you along through the streets of Berlin with heaps of good information. With the exception of one stop where a bus had broken down, the buses came and left like clockwork, and you rarely had to wait very long for the next bus.
Check Point Charlie Museum
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 checkpoint if you so desire. We found a very good info/photography exhibit on the corner across from 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. If you want to dig deeper check out the Check Point Charlie Museum.
Street exhibits in Berlin
A section of the Berlin 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.
Potsdamer Platz was completely rebuilt after it was heavily bombed during the Second World War and then laid to waste during the cold war. You will now find strikingly modern architecture here and it is home to many corporate head quarters and famous Bahnhof Potsdamer Platz, a traffic hub in the city.
Reviewing our stay in Berlin we both agree it was a more than 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 of. 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.