Sunday, 3 February 2013

Berlin

Okay, maybe I lied a little bit in my last post. When booking my flight to South America I obviously hunted around and looked for the cheapest and most direct one, which turned out to be from Frankfurt to Recife all in one go. Perfect. Just needed to get to Germany now, and as I was doing that I thought I would take the opportunity to see my friend Ollie who lives in Berlin

Getting into Berlin Tegel airport was a little ropey, the wind was unreal and we were swaying around like it was a RyanAir flight. Still, touched down in one piece and then from there to Alexanderplatz, a touristy square in town, was incredibly straight forward. Just hop on a bus and it takes you straight there.

With the weather been a little dreary and having limited time, I figured I'd just take it easy and not bust a gut trying to see everything in one weekend, as with most places I always imagine I'll be back again some time. Except Omsk.

I figured walking around would be the best way to see the city so I bought a map in the local shop, circled the main points of interest and set off. As much as I would have loved to see everything I had to be realistic so another trip to visit all the museums is definitely something to look forward to. There's so much history here.

Anyhow, I decided to spread my walking out over two days and pretty much saw all the main draws. Started off with a trip to the East Side Gallery, this is basically a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall that is still standing and dedicated as a memorial to freedom, with paintings done by over 100 different artists. Some of the drawings still look great but unfortunately some of them have been defaced with graffiti, however some of them were spruced up again in 2009. I took loads of pictures here so I'll post a load more in another post.





Using the Fersehturm (the tall tower) as a guide to get back to the Alexanderplatz area, I used this as my base to see the surrounding sights. Lots of walking involved but managed to fit in most of the stuff I wanted to. Although I had the map, I barely looked at it as everything is so well sign posted in Berlin. All the sights are marked with directions at practically every corner.

In a nutshell then: saw the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) although it's not really a cathedral technically as there's never been a bishop based there, the Holocaust Memorial  with it's 2711 stelae to remember the Jews who perished during World War II, Brandenburg Gate, the last of 18 gates in the city and now a national symbol of Germany's reunification. While the Wall was up, this gate was in no man's land, sandwiched between the walls.

Other obvious highlights were Check Point Charlie, the most famous checkpoint in Berlin from 1945 - 1989 and memorable for a tank stand off in 1961 between Soviet and American forces, the Victory Column (Siegessäule) affectionately known as 'Golden Lizzie' and the Reichstag, home to the German parliament.


Berliner Dom

Memorial to Victims of War and Tyranny

Within the Memorial to Victims of War and Tyranny

Brandenburg Gate

Soviet War Memorial

'Golden Lizzie'

Reichstag

Check Point Charlie

Holocaust Memorial
Of course I have barely touched the surface here in Berlin and am already planning a long weekend summer break here in my head. With the weather been so cold and wet, there was no point going up view points on the Victory Column or the Reichstag. The fact I actually want to go to the museums here means that this is one destination I will certainly come back to.









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