My class schedule changes week-by-week, and at 3:30 last Thursday I was faced with a four day weekend. Because my exams are still a little ways off, I knew I wanted to use my time to go on an adventure. A friend lives (relatively) close to Berlin and so with that in mind I booked train tickets and was off via Hanover – see the next blog post!
Berlin was somewhere I had always wanted to go. While I did do a lot, two days were definitely not enough to really understand the city. However I did visit the main tourist and historical sites, particularly relating to WW2 and the Cold War.
I managed to see so much because of a walking tour. These are something I do almost every time I solo travel, mainly because they’re free or donation based. I also get travel advice and meet a lot of other people. For instance, this time I met a guy who had lived in Torquay, and his buddy who was thinking about moving to Eagle Rock. What are the odds!
The guide was a British girl who had moved to Berlin after getting a degree in German history. This meant we got a ton of interesting information while on our 3 hour walk. Here are some more pictures, captioned with the snippets of information we received.
Pariser Platz has the Brandenburg Gate
Humboldt University where one of the first Nazi book burnings take place. On the anniversary every year they turn the entire Platz into a book fair.
A memorial for the People’s Uprising in East Germany
Michael Jackson dangled his infant son out of one of these windows
There are still many reminders of Berlin’s dark period of history. As someone born after the Wall came down, I often forget just how recent this was, and how many people walking around would have lived through this extended divided time.
Speaking of divided periods – there were also many posters for an upcoming election, and while I cannot read German, it was clear that some addressed the topic of refugees and asylum seekers. East Germany in particular is currently a hotspot for anti-migrant sentiment, and even as I was on the train to Hanover I read about an attack that had just occurred in Bautzen.
After walking all day I went to find my youth hostel. It was a large place meant for families and school trips. So while it was not in the most lively part of town, everything was clean and cheap. I actually only spent 12 euros on what ended up being a double room! My only criticism was that whoever had previously stayed in my bunk wrote on it with glow-in-the-dark marker. It gave me such a fright when I turned off the lights.
The next morning was for exploring. Dodging the rain, I visited the East Side Gallery and the museum “Topography of Terror.” According to Wikipedia:
The Topography of Terror (German: Topographie des Terrors) is an outdoor and indoor history museum in Berlin, Germany. It is located on Niederkirchnerstrasse, formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.
You can find out more about this moving museum at: http://www.topographie.de/en/
The East Side Gallery was really cool, and as I walked down I recognized some of its very famous murals. It’s empowering to see the reclaiming of the wall, and graffiti being used in a political and ever-relevant way. There was even a section dedicated to the Syrian crisis.