The afternoon we arrived in Berlin, we had a beautiful blue sky and I walked around in a light jacket, but it soon turned chilly and rainy. With all Berlin’s been through, I felt that a more somber tone was appropriate. Over Easter weekend we were huddled up in thick rain jackets and turtlenecks while in Berlin and now we’re sleeping with just a sheet in 80-degree Milan.
I took so many pictures, and Berlin has so much to see that I’m overwhelmed and I’m going to have to split things up a bit.
We bought our travel package last minute to Berlin and I was very pleased how things turned out. Our hotel was a 3 star (a real one) with a great breakfast buffet and right off a main shopping street (Kurfurstendamm) with a lot of activity. And I loved seeing the haunting, beautiful Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, still standing after a WWII bombing and peeking out at us while we walked around.
S has a particular penchant for Berlin since one of his favorite movies is Wim Wender‘s “Wings of Desire” which was shot in Berlin when the wall was still intact. Besides the plot of the movie which is great, comparing how Berlin has changed in just 20 years since it was shot is an eye-opening experience. Entire scenes in the movie shot in front of a desolate field are now populated with high-rise buildings.
The Brandenburg Tor (or Gate) became the symbol of the unification as Berliners and other Germans went there after the wall fell.
What’s left of the Berlin wall was a bit of a disappointment as the once-colorful tributes have chipped away greatly or they have been covered in graffiti. One section of the murals was repainted in 2000, 10 years after the original murals were done, and by the original artists. There are plans to develop a park on the river-facing side of the wall which I think will greatly enhance the experience – now a heavily trafficked street runs on one side and the other side is inaccessible.
The Reichstag building, which houses the German Parliament, was very interesting as it incorporated classic and modern architecture in the same place – the glass dome offers a great (free) view of the city and totally contrasts with the columned building holding it.
Here we are inside the dome looking down.
On our first day, we took a walk through Tiergarten, a huge park right in the middle of Berlin, on our way to Brandenburg Tor, and out of nowhere, we saw the Siegessaule, the Victory Column. S was pretty happy as we hadn’t planned to see it right then but it was on our list as it played a pivotal role in Il Cielo Sopra Berlino (the Italian title). The afternoon sun was able to break through the clouds and hit the west-facing angel just right.
Heading to Museum Island, we stopped in the Berlin Dom and listened to someone playing on their huge organ before the service. The church was beautiful but it was hard not to go…meh…after some of the other cathedrals I see on a regular basis. The grass-covered square in front of it was great for people to congregate, though.
S and I had been brought down a bit by the weather and a bit parched by our cross-city wandering, so by the time we got to a restaurant around 3 to eat, I knew exactly what would cheer us up. Or at least, get us “happy.”
The Meter of Beer!
I love me some sausage, which makes me a happy camper when I go to places like England and Germany. This was the “house specialty” – a pretzel dumpling (knodel), rostbratwurst sausages, kraut and some roast meat. Yum!
We found the architecture in Berlin to be amazing – it was so varied and from building to building you could see completely different styles. Also, the public transportation was also excellent, and since we had bought a Welcome Card for 72 hours, we had unlimited riding, including to and from Tegel airport for just 18 euro. There were so many museums (something like 130 at last count) that I knew we wouldn’t get to them all or even a major part, so we looked at this trip as an aperitivo of Berlin, a taste for future trips.
Next up…why are people getting so Knutty about the Zoo in Berlin?