Brilliant Berlin!

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jul 10, 2009

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, May 22, 2009

We had a 5 hour train ride from Amsterdam to Berlin, in a comfortable little cabin all to ourselves. The train arrived in Berlin's huge new train station (Hauptbanhof - basically means central station) - a huge glass dome, with 4 levels, complete with shops, travel agents and even a food court!! Fantastic compared to some of the stations that we have seen.

It was an easy train ride to our hotel stop, and a small walk down to the hotel itself. It was a great choice of hotel compared to the last one!! We settled into our room, then went for a stroll down the city's main shopping strip (Kurfurstendamm). It was Subway for dinner - complete with a takeaway beer! Makes Australian Subway a little boring really :) :)

The next day we jumped on a regulation bus, and headed around the city. It is a very strange city, in the way that the buildings a definite mix of new and old. Of course that makes sense when you think that most of the city had been bombed during World War 2, so they would eventually have to rebuild the majority of it. Still, it was amazing to see those buildings that still remain throughout - you can actually see the bomb damage on the statues at the front of them. We saw the largest part of the Berlin Wall that still remains today, ironically with its own fence around it to stop tourists stealing bits of it!!!!!

Also in our sights were the Reichstag (Parliament) and the Victory Column. After each major war victory a level was built on top of this column - Hitler decided to put his victory level up about Karma!!!!! There is now a beautiful gold statue on top of the colum, Victoria.

Checkpoint Charlie was next on the list - really interesting. Given that neither of us really knew the full story of the Berlin Wall, the timeline along the sidewalk helped us to understand what went on. It is really hard to believe that the fighting was still happening only 20 years ago. From the Checkpoint we walked down to the Jewish Museum. I am quite interested in all the happenings of World War 2, so was pretty enthralled by it all - Jase however was getting bored by this stage!! I did warn him in advance though, so he just had to follow me around and put up with the history lesson!!

We managed to catch the last bus back to our stop, and had a lovely dinner that night at a small restaurant down the road - funnily enough, we have continued our love of Italian food and pretty much eaten that all around Europe! Boring as it sounds, we couldn't quite bring ourselves to eat the local delicacy of curried Bratwurst sausages...yuk! At least we will have plenty to choose from when we get to Florence :) :)

We didn't realise that the next day was a public holiday - it was Ascension Day, a religious holiday that is celebrated in Europe and in the US. So we walked down the road to have our daily Starbucks and found it was closed!! Shock horror - no tall café latte for us!! As a result of the holiday, tourists were out in force - the locals were probably sleeping in. The metro was still running, so we headed to the Brandenburg Gate - in the rain of course. As I marvelled at being in such a historical spot, Jase was more interested in the concert and big screens that were being erected for a huge music festival on that weekend.

Around the corner was the Holocaust Memorial - what an amazing place! Have a look at the photos and you'll know what I mean. After searching the streets surrounding the memorial, we finally came across the spot of Hitler's Bunker - which is now a car park!!!!!!!! There is a plaque that marks the spot, but it wasn't really what I expected. Apparently the actual bunker (which was more like a series of huge underground rooms where Hitler lived the last 3 months of his life) is now filled with water and completely inaccessible. Oh well, I am still happy to have seen the spot! Then it was back to the hotel to seek shelter from a thunderstorm :) Our luck with the weather continues...

We both gave Berlin a clear 9 out of 10 in the ratings - fantastic city!! We'll look forward to going back some day.
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