Busy Busy Berlin

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Berlin is an amazing city! We spent 5 action packed days in the city and could have stayed much longer.

It started off well as we managed to find the hostel, which was an underground ride and a train ride from the train station where we had been dropped off, without instructions (yay for us!) then we discovered a supermarket very close to the hostel which, much to Hana's excitement, had soy chocolate milk and soy chocolate pudding!

Our first day we went on a walking tour of all the major sites in the centre of the city (by the Brandenburg Gate), this included:

the Holocauste memorial - a collection of concrete blocks of all different sizes, the artist never revealled what it represented so it means something different to each visitor;

the former Luftwaffe Headquaters - it was never bombed as apparently the allied pilots used it and the river to get their bearings. It's now used as the Treasury building;

a building with original WW2 built holes - apparently one of the very few remaining and it's about to get torn down. They've taken so long to get round to tearing it down as they couldn't figure out who owned it;

the site of Hitler's bunker which was liked in with earth and is now a carpark;

part of the Berlin wall;

the former SS Headquaters, now the typography of terror museum;

check point Charlie which has turned into an American tourist attraction; and

the site of the University students book burning - they got all the non-Nazi support books out of libraries and burnt them.

After this we were rather hungry so had currywurst (a deep fried sausage covered in tomato sauce and curry powder), schnitzel and chips.

The next day we visited the Topography of Terror Museum and Hana visited the Pergamon Museum. The has the reconstructed Temple of Zeus in it as well as the Istar gate from Babylon and a roman market gate. I thought the Istar gate was the most impressive, it was sad that the Templeof Zeus was not still in Pergamon in Turkey as it would have looked amazing sitting on the top of the hill.

We did a day trip from Berlin to the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp which was open from 1936 to 1950, both under the Nazis and the Soviets. It wasn't a camp that was built for the large scale extermination of Jews as the gas camber wasn't built until 1943. The camp was used as a training ground for members of the SS that went east to run concentration camps.

It is also the camp where the prisoners made counterfeit British pounds and American dollars to undermine there economies. Even the Bank of England could not pick which notes were fakes!

We also visited the DDR Museum which is dedicated to showing what life was like in East Germany. The Museum was very interactive but was packed full of people which made it hard to fully appreciate. Following the Museum we went up the Reichstag (i.e.Parliament) to the top of the large glass done, the views where amazing but it was very hot and muggy in the dome.

On the final day Hana visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was inside a box so couldn't be seen, the 1936 Olympic Stadium and Charlottenburg Palace which was built at the end of the 17th Centuary. The palace was lovely and it was hard to believe how much had survived the war (though heavy restoration has been needed in places. The ceiling paintings were exceptional with it hard to tell if the paintings were 3d or not. Chris spent the day at home getting organised for our arrival in the UK i.e. setting up bank accounts, cellphones etc.

One more stop in Paris and then we will have made it to our final destination: London!
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