Building works, blisters, and beer.

Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
Trip End Aug 23, 2013

Flag of Germany  ,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We had a totally fantastic time in Berlin. It is certainly a happening city! The first thing that struck us was the huge number of building works and projects going on in the city. For example, on one road as we walked into town, there was a new metro line being built, a reconstruction of the original Berlin Castle in the central square and restoration work being done on several other buildings.

The history of WWII and the following Russian occupation of East Berlin definitely dominated our time here, visiting museums and memorials. It is amazing the impact that the war has had, it is still very fresh in people's lives and minds. It is within our lifetimes that the Berlin Wall has come down - somewhat of a reality check!

On the evening we arrived we did a bike tour for 4 and a half hours. It was a fantastic way to see the city's main sights without having to walk everywhere. (Just to give you an idea, our hotel was around 4.5km from the centre of town, so we walked in and out to the hotel each day as well as around all of the tourist sights!) The guide (Rami) was fantastic and gave us lots of interesting facts about the city. We were struck at the amount of war damage that is still visible in the city today. Lots of buildings are riddled with all sorts of bullet holes - they have been left (rather than filled in) as a reminder of what happened. Seeing the amount of damage to some of the amazing historic buildings was eye-opening. Our bike tour finished with a stop at the Tiergarten where there is a beer garden, all the people on the tour had dinner together which was fun.

The next day we did a big museum orientated day. We visited the famous Pergamon museum first and saw some huge sculptures and parts of buildings from biblical times and before. There was one large facade that had been ordered to be built by King Nebukenezah (spelling wrong!) quite amazing to see things from that long ago in such great condition. We saw the Holocaust Memorial and Museum that afternoon, it was a hugely sobering experience. They had extracts of diaries and letter written by both adults and children as they were taken to concentration camps. One that stuck with me was written by an eleven year old child to her father. She wrote 'they are taking us away to be killed now, I am so afraid of this death as I have seen them throw children like me into the pits still alive'. After a few more museum stops and a Chekpoint Charlie visit we had schnitzel for tea!

Our second full day was nice and quiet and gave us a chance to soak up a bit more of the atmosphere of the city. It was also a nice chance to not do so much walking as our feet were getting quite sore! Tom is now an expert blister-fixer and always has a packet of plasters close to hand. We visited the Gallery Lafayette in the morning and had fun wandering around some rather expernsive looking shops! We then found a lovely little bistro by the side of the canal and sat there for about four hours reading our books in the sun sampling some of the local wine and beer!

Today we have travelled to Leipzig and have just had time to have a quick look around the city (where Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Wagner all lived!) this place has a wonderful vibe and we are excited about looking around more tomorrow! Watch out for the Leipzig blog update in a few days!


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Jocelyn on

I too found the Holocaust Memorial awe-inspiring. So simple - able to impart the enormity of the confusion and the distress yet a place of solitude and reflection. I think it is the must-see when visiting Berlin. All sounds great - what's the food like in Germany? Are you checking your emails?

Elizabeth on

So love holidaying through your blog. Recalled my Berlin as a tourist in 1966! In a tent beside No-mans land strip hearing guard dogs all night and patrol parties on motorbikes. Checkpoint Charlie so different then too. You will make so many memories which last forever. Hugs - and remember to look for the little green men when you cross the road! :)

Barry on

Great memories of a wonderful city, Pete and Mel walked me round most of those places plus a heap of flea markets so i know what you mean about blisters. Even if they weren't living there it is now for me a must see city. Emm shhh you mentioned the war.....

Mum on

Thanks Emma and Tom. What a great time you're having. We love the photos. Awesome sign! Neil loved the car.

Dorotyh Jonhston on

Emma And Tom Thank you for giving us this first hand imfo it is just amazing that you are there and sharing your experience with us.

Jessica Shields on

hey guys glad you have had a good look around the city and enjoyed it:) I totally get what you mean about the cool vibe there!! and the holocaust memorial is almost surreal huh. hope you're having a wonderful time in Leipzig, glad you know about it's famous inhabitants:) (make sure you get to Thomaskirche - i'm pretty sure that's where Bach performed or wrote or something cool like that) btw, Leipzig is where Goethe lived while writing his famous 'Faust' piece - you can go to the cafe where he wrote :)

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