Day 16 - one whole day in Berlin
Trip Start Nov 29, 2011
41Trip End Jan 28, 2012
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We got ready and went downstairs for our included breakfast buffet. There was so much to choose from! Mueslis, cereals, fruits, yoghurts, cold meats, cheeses, heaps of different bread rolls and loaves of bread, pastries, eggs in many ways, bacon, sausages, juices, waters in fancy bottles - flat and still, heaps of different teas to choose from, coffee and heaps of different condiments. I ended up having some fruit salad with yoghurt, some scrambled eggs, a little Danish type lattice apple and cinnamon pastry and a 'fitness' herb tea (not sure why it was called fitness tea?).
After breakfast we headed out to where we needed to meet with our tour group. The lady at the service desk of the hotel gave us dot points of where to go and I managed to get us there easily even though it was quite some distance away from the hotel.
When we arrived to the main street of Kurfurstendamm, we walked down looking for the correct number. On the way we came across a little Chocolaterie with amazing little cakes and biscuits! We spent a while in the shop examining everything. I noticed marzipan is a huge thing here. But I think it's a bit gross!
So afterwards we found the place and it was about time to hop on our tour bus for our 3 hour tour. The tour guide went through everything in both German and English. We saw most things while on the bus as we drove past, like Philharmonic Hall, Potsdam Square/Sony Centre, Alexander Square, City Hall, O2 World Arena (where they were actually setting up for Ramnstein that night), the tv tower which is the tallest building in Germany I think, Charlottenburg Palace, Bellevue Palace, Grunewald Forest and the government area to name a few. The tour guide mentioned that some of the streets had up to 70% destroyed during world war 2 and had to be rebuilt.
We did make two stops though, one at Checkpoint Charlie and the other at Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag building.
Checkpoint Charlie was the only legal crossing between east and west Berlin while the Berlin wall was up from 1961 to 1989. Here we bought some post cards which had all different pictures on them and some books about the history of the Berlin wall. By the checkpoint building there were two men dressed up as soldiers with US flags so Baba took a photo of me with them. Baba was very excited to see Checkpoint Charlie and explained a lot about it to me.
Brandenburg gate was a special entry and apparently many famous politicians have walked through it. The Reichstag building very close to this and was like the parliament house and was quite important in the second world war.
After the tour was over we wanted to see more of the Berlin wall so we headed back towards Checkpoint Charlie. When we got near Checkpoint Charlie we saw there was a Berlin wall museum so we went in to see that. Inside the museum was all sorts of information, photos and different models and things discussing how people coped with the Berlin wall and how they escaped to the other side - some making it through alive and others not so lucky. The stories about how they put the wall up and how originally it was just barbed wire were interesting to read about but at the same time it was difficult to imagine just how horrible Berlin would have been back then, which really wasn't that long ago. In the museum there were also bits of information about other countries and how they were affected by world war 2. There was one for Prague which mentioned everything Baba had pretty much already told me but also included a little video that had been filmed by someone viewing what was going on in Prague just after Baba had left. The video showed tanks rolling down the streets and the terror on the people's faces. People were shot at by soldiers in tanks and the people changed all the street signs around to confuse the soldiers as to where they were going. The video really opened up my eyes to everything Baba was talking about and made it actually seem real, not just a horrible story.
On the way out of the museum they showed some of the methods people used to escape while in Berlin, some where hidden compartments in cars and welding machines, large hot air balloons, tunnels where meat dishes were slid through, ropes shot over the wall and people slid across like a flying fox sort of thing, as well as people trying to go by water hidden in canoes.
After we had seen quite a bit in the museum we headed towards a remaining part of the Berlin wall which once was 150km long. Along the way there was a special paved line put along the ground where the wall once was. At the old wall there you could see different bits of painting and writing in its original state. West Berlin was allowed to paint on the wall but it was forbidden to the people in East Berlin. The wall had holes in it where you could see metal wires to prevent anyone getting through even if the wall was damaged. On the other side of the wall there was no man's land where it was monitored by watch towers with lights as well as guard dogs and anyone found anywhere near there was killed instantly. By this time it was beginning to get dark and I had learnt so much, so we headed back to a main city street to a large department store called KaDeWe which is the biggest department store in Europe apparently.
It was hard to see where we were going as all the bus windows where completely fogged up and it was dark outside too. Coincidentally when we kind of gave up and got off the bus, the department store was right across the road from where we were standing. At the bottom floor of KaDeWe where all fancy shops like Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Rolex etc. I went into Tiffany & Co. looking like a dag trying to find a ring I had seen on the Internet and had loved. I found the ring and it was absolutely beautiful! Definitely a dream to own something like that one day :p.
We wandered around the department store and it's many levels until we reached the top where there was a huge restaurant dining area. The restaurant was kind of like Ikea but everything was gourmet and they had absolutely everything just open like all you can eat (very fancy appearance though). Everything was weighed and the plate was charged by the specific amount of food per 100g (example, pastas and salads 2.89 euros per 100g). We ended up getting a few different types if pasta to fill a bowl each.
On the way out there were so many fancy cake shops and Baba wanted to buy all of it but somehow we walked away empty handed lol.
The main train station was close by and had an underground train line leading us to the tram connection we needed to get back to the hotel. It didn't take us very long to get back and when we did it was so good to sit down and rest our feet! :p We ended up eating the cherry strudel we got the night before, for our dinner. It was so good with so much yummy cherry flavour!