Hallo Deutschland!

So yesterday we flew uneventfully from Istanbul to Berlin. I even had time to pause and wish y’all a happy Valentine’s Day (see below). Upon arriving we checked into our hotel (where Katie has a conference all weekend) and set off for dinner. Luckily for us, we are just below the Tiergarten and there was an adorable cafe to eat in overlooking it. The one downside to our hotel is the lack of wifi, so don’t expect as many posts while I’m here. This morning I ran in the park on snow covered trails, which was peaceful but COLD. I’m already dreaming of warmer weather in San Diego, lol.

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After a delicious breakfast buffet with Katie at our hotel, we parted ways for much of the day. Since I’ve been to Berlin before (in 2000) and because we were scheduled to join the conference walking tour in the evening, I decided to focus on some more scattered and off-beat attractions. But first, I walked to the Haupbahnhof (train station) to activate my EuRail and book my train to Amsterdam on Sunday.

Then I hopped on the above-ground transport and went to the Palace of Tears (shown below). This is a free museum located at the Friedrichstrasse station, which served as a main point of crossing through the Berlin Wall for West Germans that were granted visitation visas to see their relatives in the East. I highly recommend this for anyone going to Berlin! The museum has tons of personal accounts of visitors and employees, you are literally in the building they used back then, and there are numerous media examples from the East and West that document this period in history. It was fascinating to read and hear (videos and interviews) how differently the Eastern media spun the stories from the Western (free world) version. It was also interesting to hear the elder Germans around me commenting on the exhibits.

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From there I got back on the train and went to the East Side Gallery. This is a mile-long section of the Berlin Wall that has been left standing and covered with street art. This isn’t just graffiti, but political and cultural statements that were created through a project in the early 2000s. It is forbidden to paint the walk now, in an effort to preserve these works of art. Some of the many examples are below, since pictures are sometimes more powerful than words.

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By this time I was freezing and hungry so I stopped in a place nearby that was said to be the best schnitzel in Berlin, and cheap too! It was called Sheers Schnitzel and for four euros I had a huge piece of breaded meat and fries. I enjoyed this meal because I was able to order in German and all of the other patrons were obviously locals… Not to mention it was really tasty food 🙂

Then I decided to stroll back toward city center by way of an Industrial Design Museum. All of the art inside was created by functioning pieces of metal mostly that could no longer function. Many of the works appeared human-like in construction and it was cool to wander through and see what creative pieces they had been turned into. It reminded me some of my cousin Travis’ work. And it was warm inside!

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Then I walked along Unter den Linden, which is the main drag of museums. I chose not to go in any since I have a few others queued up for tomorrow that are more specific to my interests. But the buildings are magnificent and the statues sprinkled around the street are gorgeous as well. I got to Gendarmenmarkt, a two block pedestrian square, just in time to hear the hourly chimes. They sound a bit like dueling chimes as two churches located at either end of the square alternate tones.

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I am now writing this draft from a cafe to warm up a bit before joining up with Katie for our evening tour and I will publish it whenever we find wifi again. I won’t lie, I hope it’s a brisk walking tour followed shortly thereafter by a warm restaurant for a hot dinner. Anyway, sorry this got to be so long, but I have had such a great time in Berlin so far that I didn’t want to forget anything… I’ll write again when I can!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: German History Galore « Rays of Funshine

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