Too much to see and not enough time in Berlin

Trip Start May 12, 2007
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Trip End May 27, 2007


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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sleeping in was getting up at 7am for our morning city tour of Berlin with Benny, a local guide. We went past CHARLOTTENBURG GATE, VICTORY STATUE, Parliament, a canal, Berliner Dom, a massive train station and lots of graffiti. Our first stop was Brandenburg Gate. It just seemed massive against everything else around it. There was a man and woman in military dress posing in front of the gate which did make for a nice picture. We also rode by the TV Tower, town hall, Opera house, Parliament, and embassies of Saudi Arabia, India, Africa, Netherlands and Italy. We also saw a building with numerous bullet holes that was the Traffic Ministry Building and Hitler's old bunkers are underground near here. I have an aunt that was born and raised in Berlin. She was shot in the leg trying to escape in the back of a truck during WW2! She met my uncle in Germany (he was an American soldier) and they ended up getting married! I'm still trying to find out the rest of the story.
We were then dropped off for 30 minutes at a part of the BERLIN WALL. The wall was built to separate East and West Germany for 28 years. It was built in 4 different phases starting in 1961 and finally tore down in 1989. It had started as a barbed wire fence in 1961. There was an "improved wall" in 1962-1965, then a concrete wall from 1965-1975 and from 1075-1989, was the Border Wall 75 or Grenzmauer 75. which is what is seen today.   It was 12 feet high (3.6 meters) and 4 feet wide (1.2meters). There were also 116 watch towers and 20 bunkers. 125-192 people were killed trying to leave East Germany, although the 125 is the official number. On a positive note, about 5,000 people escaped into West Germany.There are now only 3 sections of the Wall standing today since much of it was destroyed. One part (263 feet) is at Potsdamer Platz, another piece is at the East Side Gallery and the 3rd is where we viewed it at Bernauer Strasse. There is a memorial  and a TOPOGRAPHY of TERROR here. It was very interesting but I wish I had more time to read everything.
At 11am, we were dropped off at Ku'damm shopping street and we went inside the KAISER-WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH. This is a Protestant church that was first built in the 1890's. In WW II it was basically destroyed in November, 1943 by British bombs. There is now a Bell tower beside it and a new church was built with the same plans. The damaged church was left like like as a reminder of the war. We entered the Memorial Room and the inside had beautiful ceilings that were decorated with mosaic gold decorations. There were objects on display that were original to the church. Further back on the right side were steps that just seemed to end. Outside, we started looking at souvenirs and I ended up getting the usual postcards.
It was now 11:30 and lunch time, so we found a place called the MOUSE where you get a tray and basically serve yourself but it wasn't like a cafeteria. There were different parts to get different types of food. One area for salads, another for chicken, potatoes, another for vegetables and another for pasta and one for drinks. It was a "make your own dinner" type of place. I ended up getting potatoes and mushrooms. Liam and Sylvia happened to be there also and they invited us to sit with them which we happily obliged. The bathroom here was decorated in a funky fashion and was very clean so it was cents well spent! haha We then walked on a quest for Suzi to find "non-carbonated" water. After 2 stops she was still given carbonated water but finally found still water at a stand on the street. Go figure! It was then time for our Potsdam excursion.
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