Ich liebe Berlin
Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
46Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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Where I stayed
The first day I got there I was worried that my social dry spell was going to continue. Not that I did myself any favors. What was to first thing I did when I got to the hostel? My laundry. I know, call me a social butterfly. However, I was super lucky with whom I got for my roommates. All of them were solo travelers and all of them were looking to have a good time
So the next day a huge group of us from a couple hostels headed off for the free New Europe tour they give us of Berlin. Here we met Liz, a lively Canadian who was always up for a good time. It took us forever to actually start the tour because SO many people had shown up for the free tour. However, once we did get started I was very pleased with the tour guide we got, and English guy named Sam. Sam told us all about Berlin, however most of the history was focused in the last century. So we heard a lot about the Nazis and the Soviets, which are not exactly the happiest of topics, but very necessary ones
After this we saw a few more sights and heard a lot of history. The final story that we got to hear was about how the Berlin wall finally came down. I actually had no idea about the events that resulted in the Berlin wall finally being opened. So we got to hear a very detailed account of how the soviet leader in power finally gave all of the different territories their right to choose whether or not they remained under communist rule. Guess what they decided? That's right: to get the hell out of dodge. The only territory that didn't get a say was Eastern Germany
Anyway, after the tour was done Beth, Liz and I went to the East Side Gallery. This is a section of the remaining wall that they turned into something of an art gallery. They allowed different artists to paint murals that represented their own personal interpretation of what the wall and it's final destruction meant
The following day was a relatively relaxed one. Beth and I went to the Fernsehturm. This is the TV tower that gives you the best view over the city. While we were waiting to go up the tower we did some shopping for Ampleman souvenirs. We had learned about Ampleman the day before. He is the lights that you see that tell you whether it's okay for you to walk across the street or not. He was created by the city of Berlin to encourage street safety, especially among younger kids. Essentially he is a super hero in the form of a crossing guard, or vice versa. A few years back they were going to get rid of Ampleman, but there was such an uproar among the city of Berlin that he remains. I wish I had gotten a picture so you could see him. Really, he is like our walking man on traffic lights, but instead there is a red and a green one and he is wearing a hat
Once we had done the Fernsehturm we went to the Holocaust Memorial museum, which is under the memorial. It is a free museum and well worth a visit. However, it can be overwhelming. It is meant solely to remember the victims, therefore it has countless personal accounts of what happened to certain people and their families. The Berlin government has said specifically that they only remember the victims of WWII, and not the perpetrators. For this reason pretty much none of the Nazi bunkers have been preserved. And the place where Hitler killed himself and was later burned by his followers is now a parking lot. So the man who carries the most hated name of modern times, his body remains are in an unmarked grave.
Beth and I also visited Museum Isle, which, strangely enough, is and Island full of Museums. On Thursdays after 6pm entrance is free to any of the museums. So we took advantage of this and visited the Pergamonmuseum. I had heard about this on the travel channel and thought that it was a must see. Many people refer to it as the museum with all the stuff Germany stole. Basically the main attractions are the Pergamon temple, The Roman gate from Milet, and the Gate of Ishtar in Babylon. They have literally taken these things and reconstructed them within this museum
And then it was time for Chantal's House of Shame at Bussy's. We had read about this place the day before and thought that we just had to go. Amazingly we got about 10 people to join us, have of which were straight men. This place was nuts. I had actually never been to a gay bar before, so this was an experience. It was also a haven for a lot of drag queens. Basically it was a techno party. About half way through the night an American drag queen got up and sang some songs that she had changed the lyrics of. So instead of Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" you got "Your a Homo, your a homo." It was awesome. I'm pretty sure half of the guys we were with didn't know what to do, but they were champs and just kept dancing. Around 3am Beth and I decided it might be best to head back to the hostel, since we had to be up at 6 the next morning. I know, smart decisions is my middle name. SO we went back, got some falafel at a corner store, and went to bed. And that pretty much ends my time in Berlin. It really was unbelievably fun. And it was amazing to hear about and see how much it has changed in the last 20 years. Berlin has gone from a place of repression and turned itself into a place where old and new collide and create this unique kind of energy that sweeps you up and carries you all the way to...a drag club.