Great city to be a history major!
Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
11Trip End Sep 17, 2010
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Took a free walking tour of the city today. Saw Pariser Platz, the French Embassy, American Embassy, Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag (Parliament) Building, Holocaust Memorial, former site of Hitler's bunker (now just a parking lot, no marker, sign, or commemoration of any kind), former Luftwaffe HQ / 17 June 1953 memorial, a segment of the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. The tour guide pointed out Einstein Kaffee, a cafe next to Checkpoint Charlie on the American side that was a hangout for spies during the Cold War. The CIA had a room upstairs that they used as an observation post, staring at the Soviet KGB headquarters on the opposite corner, and the KGB stared back across the street at them!
We then walked to the Gendarmenmarkt, a square with the old Concert Hall, the French Cathedral on one side, and the German Cathedral on the opposite. From there we went to the Bebelplatz square with the Book Burning Memorial. This commemorates the massive book burning done by students and professors from Humboldt University across the square in response to the Nazi Party publishing a list of books and authors that they felt were not in-line with the Party's doctrine. The participants took it upon themselves to raid the library, grab as many of the works on this list as they could find, and toss them on a massive bonfire in the public square.
We walked along the Unter den Linden (a major street through Berlin) to see the statue of Frederick the Great, and across the bridge to Museum Island where we saw the Palast di Republik and the Berliner Dom (another cathedral).
Took the train to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, just outside Berlin in a suburb called Oranienburg.
Today we rented some bikes and took a ride down to Checkpoint Charlie again. (It's only about 200 yards from our hostel). From there we rode to the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining segment of the Berlin Wall, to take some photos. We rode the bikes the whole length of the wall, but it was raining so we took the bikes back and caught a train to Museum Island to see the Pergamon Museum. The Pergamon is the enormous Ancient Greek altar to Zeus, moved brick-by-brick and reassembled in this museum that was built specifically for it. The also have a great collection of ancient middle-eastern artifacts, including the Ishtar Gate--the ancient entrance to the Babylonian city of Ashur. This too was moved brick-by-brick and reassembled here in Berlin. The museum was one of my favorite things in Berlin, and one of the main things I had wanted to see here, so I was glad we were able to make it.
Hung out for a little while longer at the hostel, then overnight sleeper train to Amsterdam Centraal Station.