22.04.2014 - 27.04.2014 24 °C
Vibrant and cosmopolitan, Berlin, much to our surprise became one of the cities we enjoyed the most. A history lesson on every corner, five days was not enough time to cover this massive city.
Our apartment was located within the Kreuzberg area, with a strong Turkish community very close to the Berlin wall. With an organic fruit and vegetable market, bakeries and Turkish restaurants as our neighbours I knew we weren’t going to go hungry!!! And we didn’t.
Our first stop was the Berlin Wall. Although parts of the wall remain intact throughout the city, the section we visited was by far the most popular with the tourists, it is known as the East Side Gallery. The wall has been painted with vibrant murals, some sections colourful and fun, others a stark reminder of what the wall represented.
Next we hopped on the train and headed to the Brandenburg Gate, originally built during the18th century it was located in no mans land, between East and West during the time of the Berlin wall. Reagan’s famous speech calling on Gorbachov to tear down the wall was in front of the gate in 1987. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the gate has now become the symbol of a unified Berlin.
We then visited the site where Hilter had his bunker during the war and the place where he ultimately ended his life. A car park now occupies this space and other than an information board there is nothing else present to signify the area.
Just near the bunker is the Holocaust Memorial that takes up a whole city block. It is known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
There are various monuments throughout the city dedicated to those who fought and died during the war, as well as a photo display known as The Topography of Terror. The display has lots of information explaining the history of Berlin, its people and the Nazi party very well. It is well worth the visit.
Lunch for the day was a German specialty, currywurst – a German sausage cut into small pieces, smothered in a tomato sauce and topped with curry powder. Not bad, but not great either, certainly didn’t go back for seconds during our stay!
Using Tripadvsor walking tours we were able to efficiently explore Berlin. These tours took us through Check Point Charlie, The Gendarmenmarkt, The Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island, and the impressive Reichstag Building.
Our second last day was spent visiting Sachsenhausen concentration camp which is now a Memorial and Museum.
It was used by the Nazis’s during the war and then the Russians post war. It was the model camp and used to train Nazis to run other camps. Too much death at this place and definitely not the highlight of Berlin, but certainly a place that needed to be seen to fully understand the cruelty of the Nazis and war in general. If you wish to read more about the camp we visited click on this Link The blogger writes about his experience at the camp and some of its history.
On our final day, having had enough sightseeing, we decided to go shopping. Without a doubt Berlin has the best shopping we have seen on our trip. With three major districts within the city, it is a shopper’s paradise.
Our final days in Germany were spent in beautiful Cologne, on the banks of the Reine River. The town is extremely picturesque with the city’s cathedral taking centre stage.
Next stop Belgium.