7.23.2013

::Berlin, Germany - Day One

Whew, what a weekend! We were in Berlin, Germany for about 30 hours and we saw it all, which makes for two tired people on one Sunday evening. 
Being that Berlin is only a three hour drive from Wroclaw, we deemed it a great 'first' European trip since moving here to Poland. We left at about 7 am on Saturday, dropped our bags off at the hotel upon arrival and quickly hit the town. Berlin was such a surprise! It was never really on the top of my must-see places, but now it is one of the best cities I have ever been to and I think it should be added to everyone's European vacation itinerary. We stayed in a great little hotel in the area of Mitte (Adelante Hotel) that was walking distance to almost everything we wanted to see. The first place we stumbled across was Museum Island.

Museum Island is located on the River Spree and is an island composed of museums (fitting name, right?). It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The weather was so beautiful for the entire duration of our trip that we did not want to spend too much time inside, so we did not attend any museum exhibits but we know we will be back soon and likely will do so then. 

Welcome to Museum Island!

The Berliner Dom located on the island took my breath away, and is the most beautiful building I have ever seen. It was the highlight of my trip. 
On the walk from our hotel - this is the Berliner Dom!
This is on one of the lawns of the museums...this lady to the left is legit on one hand.
The German flag blowing.
Berliner up close!
I'm in <3 (with the building, not myself)
"Diversity Destroyed Project" - to commemorate victims from the arts during the Nazi Reign. 
Are you sick of seeing the Berliner yet? 'Cause I'm not!  ;) 
After Museum Island, we jumped on the "hop on, hop off" bus. For those not familiar, it is a bus that goes to all the hot spots of the city and for 15 Euros, you can get on and off at any stop with buses coming every "15" minutes. Totally worth it. Berlin is a HUGE city.
While on the bus, you can listen to fun facts about the city -  in 12 different languages. They even give you headphones.
[My husband loves taking candids.]
After we got off the bus, we had a beer on the famous street: Unter den Linden
we even saw a wedding. aww.
After a beer, we walked down Unter den Linden to see the Brandenburg Gate.
This was the real color of the sky that day. Perfection.

Now for the turn of events.... 

....come to find out July 20th is a holiday in Germany. It is to commemorate a failed assasination attempt on Hitler. This means that there is a large ceremony with top government officials and ALMOST ALL PEDESTRIAN PATHS ARE CLOSED (near the Reichstag). So, what would have been a two second walk to the Reichstag Building was a few miles. 
Check out the gates ( I mean the ones on the road, not the Brandenburg Gate) - no one can cross here. 
German police enforcing the anti-pedestrian crossing. It was the wurst :-)
And the route for our convenient 'hop on, hop off' bus was changed and we couldn't find the stop. And so we walked (a lot).

But, we found the Holocaust Memorial. 
It's hard to see here, but the floor is uneven and full of hills. 
The stones are all different sizes and start off small before turning into a maze of large cement blocks.
And then they got very tall. Parents: watch your kids in here or they will get lost.


After our stop in the memorial, we started walking. again.
We walked through Tiergarten Park (the old royal hunting grounds)
And we saw the Berlin Victory Column in the distance. (If we looked the other way down the road, we would see the Brandenburg Gate.)
The Nazis relocated the column to its current location in 1938.
Then, we stumbled upon Bellevue Palace: the official residence of the President of Germany :)
Built in 1786, these digs aren't too bad.
And I am happy because we found the bus again!
YEAH!
Spotted: The Titanic Building!
And now we're off to Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point between West and East Berlin during the Cold War (A war that ended in the 90's, you know the same time Nirvana was hitting the scene.) Berlin boasts so much history, both old and more recent - I probably should have paid more attention in school ;) 
Artwork to commemorate the Soviet/US tanker standoff in 1961. The image changes from Soviet soldier to US soldier depending on what side of the wall you are on.
Entering American Sector = McDonald's on the corner ;)
We then passed in what my opinion was the most moving artwork I have seen.
These images are painted on pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Following, we went to the Topographies des Terror Museum - free entry and well worth the visit.
This was a former Gestapo bunker and the central location from which the Nazis planned and managed most of their crimes. Eerie... The Wall is on the other side. Hitler had planned to make Berlin the capital of the world and call it Germania.
We then went back to our hotel to check in. (Yes, we did all this before 5pm on Saturday!)
This  is our hotel TV screen and where we learned about the July 20th ceremony - we had no idea before. Before this, we just knew the streets were closed and it was annoying. 
In Berlin - all the taxis are Mercedes.


Our evening then concluded sitting outside under the bridge, eating wiener schnitzel and drinking Berliner.
Our walk to dinner Saturday evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment