Berlin was definitely something else. All the cities that we visited, felt like tourist towns, but Berlin didn’t. We felt like locals while walking the streets, no large tour groups, except for the tourists surrounding the Brandenburger Tor. It was also so easy to walk around, we stayed in the Mitte and only once did we have to take the S-Bahn somewhere.
We got into Berlin late night on the 23rd and left early on the 27th, leaving us 3 full days in Berlin. And within those 3 days, things were packed. There’s so much to see in Berlin but i felt we got to see all we wanted to see.
We first started off the trip with a free walking tour with Sandeman’s New Berlin Tours. The tour starts at the Brandenburg Gate and they brought us everywhere we wanted to go and even to some spots we knew we wanted to see but had no idea how close they actually were to us, such as
Berlin Wall. When we first saw the wall, it actually looked pretty small, but looks were very deceiving. We saw a double decker bus pass by it, and the wall was much larger. And there wasn’t just one way, there were multiple walls lines up to keep people out and from escaping. An interesting thing, along the original path of the Berlin wall, they have plaques along the ground, and if you’re standing on one side of the wall and can read the plaques (it’s not upside down), you’re on the right side of the wall.
Check Point Charlie. There’s actually no one named Charlie. Charlie is just the name for the letter ‘C’ and is one of the many check points they had. But what made this check point so famous is the big stand off between Russia and the USA during the cold war. At the check point, they have an open exhibition with pictures and text describing the stand off that happened. Now a days, the original check point has been destroyed, but they made a new one simply for tourists, and it even just looks like a huge tourist attraction now.
Hilter’s bunker where he killed himself. It really doesn’t look like anything now. It’s a parking lot with apartment complexes and we only knew about it cause of our tour guide. It’s still there, it is a bunker after all, and there’s debate now whether it should be turned into a museum or it should just be left alone. I need to stress debate because if you don’t do something about it, then it’s like Germany is trying to cover their past and if they do do something about… well then it’s gonna be like a tourist attraction… for Hitler.
The Holocaust Memorial – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The museum portion was actually closed the whole time we were there, but the outdoor memorial is completely free and open all the time. They actually held a contest for someone to create the jewish memorial and this one won. As you can see, it’s just large slabs on concrete and as you get closer to the middle the slabs gets higher. I really liked it cause it forces you to interact with it, and in the center, it’s very quite and probably easy to get lost. It makes you feel something. Where if it was a statue, maybe you’d look at it and then move on.
After the free walking tour, we made our way over to another Christmas Market, this one was once again kinda like all the rest, but the location of the market was beautiful. Between two identical churches.
The Next day we walked on over to the Pergamon Museum. The impressive reconstructions of massive archaeological structures – the Pergamon Altar, Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon, and the Mshatta Facade – have made the Pergamon museum famous throughout the world, with the result that it is the most visited museum at the Staatliche Museen and in Germany as a whole. But the Pergamon Altar is under construction until 2019. But everything else was still open.
After the Pergamon Museum, we did something I had longed to do, I have been looking forward to this while we were planning our trip: Rausch Schokoladenhaus – the largest chocolatier in the world. The place is 3 stories, 1st floor is a chocolate shop and show room, 2nd floor is a cafe and the 3rd floor is a restaurant. We browsed around the chocolate shop and they had so many of the iconic sights of Berlin made into chocolate! such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building and even the TV Tower. Everything was perfectly crafted and had such great detail, but the most important question was: how well did it taste? We made our way up to the 2nd floor to the cafe, where they had drinks and desserts. The BEST, best tiramisu i have ever had and will probably ever have. Needless to say we were so impressed.
To get into the Reichstag Building (to see the Dome), you need to book in advance, it’s completely free, but you need to register online. The security guarding the place is like an airport and you even need your passport to enter, yeah, it’s that tight. But the view from the top is amazing and the Dome itself is magnificent and grand. But what is the building exactly? well it’s the German Parliament and is still fully functional.
One of the very important things we did was see the new Star Wars movie in IMAX 3D (and in English!) I was so impressed with the theatre. It was better than any movie theatre I have been in before. The seats were huge lazy boys with oversized arm rests and there was so much leg room. The theatre we went to was in the Sony center and the place itself looked like a neighbourhood from the future. Really cool.
We didn’t really get to explore Alexander Platz too much, but we did venture to the East Side Gallery as seen in the first photo on this blog, but i was very underwhelmed by both. Alexander Platz, well we went on the 26th, which is basically Christmas Day 2, so everything was closed, and we only saw the TV tower, and the East Side Gallery.. a lot had been vandalized and it was in a super sketchy neighbourhood. But hey, we saw them.
Overall Berlin was a really cool city to visit and I would obviously go back because there is just so much to see, also, i totally gotta go back to that move theatre.