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I was slightly anxious to go to Berlin. I’ve never been to Germany and was expecting I’d have a negative emotional reaction to WWII and the persecution of the Jews. (For the record, I don’t hold today’s generation responsible for the Nazi regime, but when you don’t know the culture of present day and all you do know of a country is from an infamous time in its history it’s difficult to think otherwise.) In the end I’m so glad I went. They so gracefully deal with such a sensitive subject through amazing memorials and monuments, and people of Berlin are approachable and even trendy. It’s a bustling city with a lot to see and do.
I traveled to Berlin from another European city by train. It was a huge picturesque station to arrive to.
These Buddy Bears, bears being the symbol of Berlin, were all over the city. I loved spotting them.
Berliner Dom Cathedral was beautiful. Its central area was very tranquil with a running fountain and a lot of wide-open space. I love the photos of the berries just because it lets me recall the plant life around the cathedral which brings back memories of my walk around the area.
This unassuming bridge, called Schlossbrucke, had amazing Greek statues to admire.
There was something very peaceful about spending some time alongside this sculpture, called Three Girls and a Boy (good odds, sir) which the rain drops fell in Berlin. There were hardly any people around this particular area of the city because of the weather…which was nice. I felt like I had the city to myself!
Rain selfie above. Selfies don’t happen often in my life…but when they do I hope they’re helping to tell the story and clearly, it was a rainy day. Next to me is the crosswalk man, as I like to call him. He’s clearly popular enough in the city – he has his own souvenir shop where I was happy to pick up a metal photo stand shaped like him.
Bradenburg Tor, or gate, is perhaps one of the most famous icons of Germany. It’s even more impressive in person. Nearby, I spotted this New York Statue of Liberty inspired Buddy Bear.
Seeing as it was a rainy day for most of the morning in Berlin this tour bus was the way to go. It’s also a large city, geographically speaking, so having the assistance of a bus to get you from place to place on limited time while above ground is invaluable.
I wanted to include the image below to illustrate that Berlin is as modern a city as any with a ton of shopping and great modern art adorning its streets. The tour guide told us the locals call that the “spaghetti noodle sculpture.”
The government building, Reichstag, is another city icon. If you travel to Berlin and would like a tour of this parliament building make sure you make reservations ahead of time. (I wasn’t aware of this and didn’t get to see inside but it’s beautiful from the outside nonetheless.)
This memorial was outside of Reichstag. Seemed curious and interesting. And who doesn’t love a well designed lamppost with a ton of character?
Wurst break. I know what you’re thinking…isn’t that a lot of ketchup?
I walked west from Reichstag towards Tiergarten Soviet War Memorial. Stoic.
Walking west again you reach the Tiergarten Victory Column. It’s essentially on the same axis as Reichstag. It commemorates the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian. It’s pretty and nice to see, take photos with….wa waaaaa then move on. 😉
One of my favorite activities in Berlin was a trip to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. Maybe this sounds odd but its placement in Berlin and the fact its such a prominent memorial, in my opinion, seemed like an apology to the world for the awfulness that happened to this minority of people during World War II. I’ve seen a lot of Holocaust Memorials, including Yad Vashem in Israel, and I have to say this was the most complete explanation of the history of the persecution of the Jews I have seen. I was truly touched and very emotional throughout my visit there.
It begins with these concrete blocks of varying heights. You can walk through them like a maze getting lost in its high walls. I haven’t read up on the design of this much but I’m glad I haven’t. From a quick Google search I see it was controversial (as most sensitive-subject memorials are) and I’m happy I could form an unbiased opinion.
The concrete feels cold and stark. I truly think it’s meant to be an interactive site; walking through it was the beginning of the emotional connection to the area below.
Below the concrete block, underneath the ground, is an explanation of what happened to the Jews during WWII.
This memorial is not-to-miss if you’re in Berlin, inclusive of the museum below the blocks.
I hopped on the subway to see what it was like in Berlin. It was a little frustrating to look at a map of where I needed to go then look at the subway signs and totally forget the area name I needed to get to. German and English are so different it’s not like your brain associates words like it would with French or Italian. But if you look about three times, you get it right. 😉
If there was one thing I REALLY wanted in Germany it was a German soft pretzel! Probably an influence of the soft pretzels you can buy in Germany at Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. Can you blame me? They’re delicious…and a fraction of the cost and more authentic in Berlin! A great snack on my way upstairs from this underground mall to Potsdamer Platz.
Potsdamer Platz, from what I found, was the best place to see remnants of the Berlin Wall. This wall essentially went up overnight. Imagine having a wall separate you from your family that lives across the street. I cannot get over this – it sounds unfathomable but that’s what happened when the wall was constructed, thus separating East Germany and West Germany in 1961. Think you can be sneaky and climb over one dark evening? Think again – there were guards and guard towers stationed along the wall for years. How sad is that? I understand more now than ever why getting the Berlin wall down was such a historical feat, coming down in fall of 1989. This wild thing about Berlin is that most of it was destroyed by bombings during WWII. So you see a lot of incredibly modern buildings throughout the city, like this residential complex below.
One of the last things I saw before I left Berlin was this beautiful fountain, called Neptunbrunnan (it’s more fun in German but that’s fancy speak for Neptune Fountain). I enjoyed sitting nearby for a while on a park bench and snapping lots of pictures!
Another Berlin Buddy Bear before this post comes to a close? Yes, of course. 🙂
And another Berlin skyline icon, the Fernshehturm Television Tower to the right. I’m told it has a great 360 degree view of the city. I wouldn’t know – didn’t do that activity!
I thought I would close with the setting sun and a funny souvenir backpack I saw. As a NYer, I thought it was commical.