Saturday 27th October
Our first full day in Berlin.
What a big place this is. So many relatively new buildings, squares, monuments and spectacular infrastructure. Obviously much of Berlin was flattened in WW2 hence the ‘newness’ of so much.
Cath was not well today with heavy cold so she filled up with some antibiotics and we ventured out to see the bigger picture on the Hop on Hop off bus.
First we had breakfast at Starbucks over the road from our hotel. Total cost 13 euros, better than paying 19 euros each for the hotel breakfast.
We purchased a 3 day and 2 route pass which means we can now visit most of the key locations as often as we want over next 3 days. We are here for 4 days so hopefully we can do a walking tour on that spare day on Thursday.
Total cost for the 3 day pass for us both was 72 euros. A bit high but we now have all our transport covered for our time in Berlin.
Most of today’s pictures were from the bus apart from the Brandenburg Gate (the gateway to the city since the mid eighteenth century) where we hopped off the bus and had some lunch. We also ran into a demonstration at the gate which we think was about organic farming rather than the use of pesticides. If that is what it was then I guess they were my people. Not sure, but we had potato soup and spaghetti anyway.
Berlin has about 3.5 million people and about 5.8 million spread over the full metropolitan area. It’s big. Having said that, it seems very clean and ordered and does not have the frenzy of Paris, London or even Budapest.
We passed into what was once Eastern Berlin behind the infamous wall built in 1961 by the GDR (German Democratic Republic). In this area there still remains many concrete buildings of all sizes. As we have seen in other cities on this trip these buildings reflect the communist period and were built for efficiency with no real beauty or character. We have heard guides call this style of architecture as Communist Realism or Brutalism.
We also witnessed several remaining sections of the Berlin Wall which separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. I have included several pictures of the wall below including in some cases just the remaining steel reinforcing rods protruding from the concrete footings. In many areas the remaining wall is covered with graffiti, but a long section has been used as a canvas for artists who were invited to reflect the wall, its original purpose and the celebration of its destruction.
Cath and I hope to visit this area again tomorrow to understand more of the detail including the apparent cruelty of its original purpose and some of the stories (good and bad) of those trying to get over or under it during its 28 year life. After all, this all took place after the end of WW2.
See Checkpoint Charlie, with McDonald’s in the background in first picture. Hmmmm.
We finished our day back at the hotel about 3 pm, knackered.