Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin

Trip Start Jan 11, 2011
Trip End Jul 13, 2011

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Friday, June 17 we arrived in Berlin from Prague at about 5:30pm. We then took a commuter train and a walk to Michael and Renate's place (Birgit's parents) in the western part of the city. That night we had a great dinner with them and a couple of good beers. We then watched CNN, did a few things on the computer, and hung out before going to sleep.

We woke up on Saturday, June 18 and had a great breakfast complete with some homemade flakey pastries. We then took the train into the city center. We arrived near Brandenburg Gate which during the time of the Cold War was a main gate between East Berlin and West Berlin. Nowadays it is the site of the British, French, and American embassies. After picking up a map at the tourist office we walked over to the Reichstag building which is the German Parliament building. It had a fire in 1933, which the Nazis blamed on the communists in a way to increase their power. Since Germany's re-unification it is again the seat of the nation's government. Nowadays it also has a glass cupola added in 1999 that pretty cool to see. Unfortunately we couldn't go up it cause reservations are needed a few days in advance due to terrorist threats. Next we walked through a park to get to the Victory Column, which was to celebrate all of Germany's victories in 1871. After a brief lunch of nutella sandwiches and apples while it rained we headed back to the Brandenburg Gate. There we joined a free tour of the city that would last four hours. We started with some history of the city and then saw the Jewish Holocaust Memorial. It is a very interesting memorial because it is just 2711 differently shaped concrete columns. Next we saw the spot where Hitler's bunker once was beneath. This was the site where Hitler and his new bride both committed suicide just days before the Soviets took the city. We then saw a memorial to the attempted revolution against the Soviets along with a wall nearby depicting propaganda of happy Germans living equally under communism. Following that memorial we walked over to one of the remaining segments of the Berlin Wall and then over to the spot that was formerly referred to as Checkpoint Charlie. After a brief break in the tour at a cafe we continued on to see various old buildings built before the world wars destroyed much of the city. We saw a memorial to all wars which was a a mother holding her dead son in despair. It was a quite an emotional memorial. We finished up our tour in museum island, which is the site of four major museums. Next we walked back towards Checkpoint Charlie. Along the way we stopped at Bebelplatz which was the site of all the bookburnings under the Nazi regime. At Checkpoint Charlie we went into the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie museum. This museum chronicled various escape attempts including tunnels, hot air balloons, secret compartments in cars, and a one-man submarine. The museum also had information about other oppressed people over the last 50 years all over the world. When we finished going through the museum, we bought some famous Berlin curry wursts with fries for dinner. After a very long day of sightseeing we headed back to house where we relaxed a bit and then went to sleep.

We woke up on Sunday, June 19 and had another amazing breakfast with Michael and Renate. Renate made a really good apple kuchen and we also had some good white bavarian wursts along with a lot of other great food. After breakfast Brian and I walked to a museum that was only about 20 minutes from their house. The museum is called the Allierten (Allied) Museum and is a great free museum with memorabilia from the British, French, and Americans during the entire time of divided Germany and Berlin. When we finished at the museum we walked and took a train to get to Potsdam. Potsdam is a small city just outside of Berlin where the former German monarchs built palaces. Brian and I went into one these palaces, called Neues Palais. It was a pretty interesting museum, especially since it was still in use until World War I and it had running water and electricity inside. It was one pretty cool hall that's walls and ceilings are all seashells and different types of rocks and stones. After walking around the palace we headed back to the house because it was raining pretty hard. Shortly after getting back to the house we had a great meal with Michael and Renate. We ate white asparagus, potatoes, and ham all covered in a great sauce and drank a couple of good German beers. It was another awesome meal. Afterward Michael told us that we could keep the mugs that we had been drinking from all weekend and we were so surprised and appreciative. They're awesome mugs. That night we watched some German basketball and hung out before going to bed.

We woke up on Monday, June 20 and packed up all our bags. We had another great breakfast with Renate and she made us sandwiches for the day as well. After we were all packed up we headed to the Berlin Haptbanhof and took a train to Copenhagen.
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