Monday, August 12, 2013

Europe Trip Travel Blog #1: Berlin, Germany

We left on July 3 and landed in Frankfurt, Germany on July 4th. We immediately went from the airport to the train station to catch a train to Berlin. This is the only photo I took in Frankfurt, in the train station.

The street our hostel was on in Berlin was very pretty. 

We only had one full day in Berlin and tried to do as much as we could, but it is definitely somewhere I would like to visit again. 
We went to the Reichstag (parliament building) first and waited in line to register. We registered for a time later that evening.
The man who took our passports to register us for our visit to the Reichstag said, "Canada Day was a few days ago, right?" and we said yes. He asked us if there was one place in Canada where people went to celebrate, and we tried to explain that the country is too big for that, and each city has their own celebration. He said, "I know it is big, but there aren't a lot of people so it'd be weird to have a party for just three people." We tried to explain that there are more than 3 people in each Canadian city and that for us all to trek to Ottawa for Canada Day would take days but we kind of just gave up because the concept was so foreign to him, and said the main celebration is in Ottawa.

After registering to visit the Reichstag, we went to the Wilhelm Memorial Church because my sister had recommended it, but it was closed for restoration. So we went on to Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was an American checkpoint/crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. It is called Checkpoint Charlie because it is Checkpoint C, or the 3rd one, and in radio lingo C = Charlie.
It was cool to see. There was a sign that had a soldier dressed in an American uniform on one side, and the same man dressed in a German uniform on the other side, and there were soldiers posing for photos.

This is a representation of all the different passports from countries who visited the checkpoint while it was still running.

We then went to the East Side Gallery, which was one of my favorite things we did in Berlin. It is the longest still standing section of the Berlin Wall, and has been made into an art gallery. Different artists from all over the world have painted parts of the wall, and then local artists and tourists tag it and graffiti it, as well. 

I loved this poem by an Italian artist.

We saw this weird store walking around East Berlin:

After supper, we went back to the Reichstag.
"For the German people"

On top of the Reichstag is a glass dome (it is transparent to represent the German democracy's transparency to the people.) It is lit by solar panels (which you can see in the centre) and open on the top to let out stale air. People can climb the outside in a spiral while listening to an audio guide giving history of the buildings outside, and the Reichstag itself. 

A solar-powered shade follows the sun's movement to always provide shade. We climbed to the top and learned a lot about the buildings of Berlin and the German government. 

We saw the Brandenberg Gate, and a memorial to the genocide of the Sinti and Roma people of Germany. We walked around a park, and that was it. That was our one day in Berlin.

Berlin had cheap, good food; nice people; and lots of history.
I have never been to a place that was so upfront about their mistakes in history - from the wall, to the graffiti all over the city that nobody seems to make an effort to hide or cover up, to the different memorials, to the explanation of the democracy at the Reichstag, Berlin seemed like a place that was trying to make up for its past mistakes by being honest about them and giving the people some power and agency after being oppressed for so long.
It was really refreshing and interesting to see, and very different from home.
I loved Berlin and would love to go back some day.

Check out my other Europe Trip Travel Blogs:

and my packing tutorial


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