A Rainy Day in Berlin

Trip Start Aug 29, 2010
Trip End Oct 04, 2010

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Flag of Germany  ,
Thursday, September 9, 2010

A very gloomy day, today. We had managed to avoid inclement weather for nine straight days, but our streak came to a crashing halt today. It rained. All. Day. At least it was mainly the kind of misty annoying rain rather than torrential downpour. So we did what most people do on rainy days: spent all day walking outside.
Our day started off a little comically. As we were leaving towards the S-Bahn, we noticed a car with a Belarussian license plate. We had to take a picture of course, and as we started doing so, the owners of the car show up. Could've been awkward, but they were nice people, from Grodno, and quite happy to let us photograph their car. I (Barry) later in return helped them buy tickets for transportation.
We headed to the Charlottenburg Palace, the summer home of Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick I, first Prussian king. She was a patron of the arts and sciences, and this was reflected in her home. Most of the palace was destroyed during WWII, but it was rebuilt and much of the furniture replaced from other destroyed palaces. Like most palaces of the era, the rooms were very varied and intricate. She even had a room with 2700 pieces of porcelain. That's ridiculous. The grounds were massive, but we didn't venture into them as we had a lot on our plate for the day.
We stopped for lunch at a small fast food place called Giga Potato. The food was interesting and good. Tina got a baked potato, which was apparently stuffed with everything the chef could find in the fridge: corn, peas, beans, cheese, pickles, carrot salad, couscous, and butter. Kelly and I just had sandwiches, but we liked them too.
From there, we headed to Potsdamer Platz, which was underwhelming. It was supposed to be a mini Times Square, and we decided that the emphasis was on mini. It was close to Checkpoint Charlie tho, so we headed over there to get a better look. Tina and I got our passports stamped with an original Soviet stamp, and we got to spend more time reading a lot of the history of the Berlin Wall. There is probably miles of text about it around the city, but we tried to get through what we could. Fascinating to read about.
On our way back to the subway, we stopped by something called the Topography of Terror, a memorial built on the site of the former headquarters of the SS and Gestapo. It detailed Nazi history from the late 1920s through 1945, and then the treatment of former Nazis throughout East and West Germany over the next few decades. The memorial was essentially a very long glass wall covered with newspaper clippings and photographs, which I liked since it made it especially vivid. Most interesting for me was that West Germany began a long period of denazification and lots of trials for perpetrators, whereas East Germany more or less pretended that there was no such thing.
Once again we're cutting this post in half for photography reasons. So... Tchuss!
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