History Class in Berlin

Trip Start Nov 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Metropol Hostel

Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, July 10, 2011

The next day we were up at 8am (crazy for us! haha) but only because it was so hot in the room we couldn't sleep. The best part about the hostel is that breakfast is included and they have bread, buns, cheese, meat, veggies, cereal, and yoghurt and also a full variety of morning beverages; it was a pretty sweet deal and they have it for 4 hours every morning. After breakfast I (Jackie) continued to work on the blog and our pictures so I could catch right up and maybe we won't fall behind again. James took the opportunity to go do our laundry.

Once we were all finished it was just after noon and we headed out to go see some sights. First we went to see the Checkpoint Charlie sight. This was where the US and Russian tanks faced off at a checkpoint in the wall in Berlin. Luckily things were stopped/controlled before any fighting actually occurred. At present there is a small booth on what was the American side and a sign stating that you are now leaving the American Sector. There is also a museum about the sight but we opted to just read the large dividers around the road by the checkpoint that had information about that period on them.

We then walked down the road a block or two and checked out the Topography of Terror Museum. It was free and had a huge wall of posters with a lot of information about the Nazis, how they formed, how they came to power, their propoganda, and basically just how things evolved between 1933-1945 all along it. There is a bit of the wall still standing there also and the sight is actually where an office of the SS and the Gastapo stood. A building has been built on the sight too and inside is more information on the Nazis and the people in high positions. Once we got our fill on the Nazi history we continued our wandering around Berlin.

We stopped for some frozen yoghurt on our way to the Riechstag and then we also came upon the holocaust memorial. It's basically concrete blocks all the same shape but at different hieghts and there is a whole block covered in them, it was quite daunting walking around and through them. At one side of the block there is also an underground museum about the victims of the holocaust. We decided to go in (again, it was free). Reading all the stories about what happened, the numbers of people that were murdered, and the backgrounds about some of the families was very heartbreaking. There was also one room that had some of the letters and postcards found from the concentration camps that were written by actual victims and translated to english; this was the hardest part to stomache. Reading a first hand account of some of the small details was gut wrenching.
 When you come out of the museum you are in between the concrete blocks and so we started to make our way to the other side. James thought he would be funny and run around a corner and try to lose me, I took the opportunity to take off through the blocks myself, heheher. I went diagonlly through the blocks and then just sat and waited for James. Apparently he thought I was looking for him back at the start and was wandering around saying my name, hahaha. Eventually he made his way out though and we spotted eachother.

We then walked a couple blocks down to the Reichstag and just took a couple pictures of the massive and impressive parliment building. After that we crossed the road again and went through the Brandenberg Gate to check it out form the other side. Apparently the Winged Lady and Horses Statue on the top was once taken by Napolean back to France, it has of course been returned to its home though.

By this time we were starting to tire but we still wanted to see the East Side Gallery. The East Side Gallery is the largest portion of the Berlin wall that is still standing. We hopped on the subway and then walked all along it. The wall was sectioned off and paintings have been done all over it. Most of them are about freedom and peace and such and others are just completely random, but all very interesting. About halfway down the wall there was an opening with a bar and a sand beach behind it and we decided to stop for a beer and some food. It all seemd very well priced but when my chicken wrap came out it was the smallest most pathetic thing I'd ever seen, we kind of thought it was a joke! haha.

After finishing our beers (mine was grapefruit flavoured, and pretty good actually) we continued alongside the wall and the rest of the paintings. At another point across the road there seemed to be some big Croc's event going on as everyone around had Croc's branded noise makers and there was a big blown up Croc's shoe mascot outside the centre, strange. By the time we got to the end of the wall we were done for the day and made our way back to the hostel. We just spent the evening playing cards and uploading pictures. We did want to go out in Berlin one night but our hostel seemed to be filled with 16 year olds and the thought of waiting till midnight (when the bars open) and then going out just the two of us wasn't greatly appealing; we miss our friends back home!!
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