as i write about my last pitstop on our austria-germany trip i feel as though i’m desperately in need of another holiday. i know, #firstworldproblemsmuch?
the only reason why berlin was tacked onto the end of our itinerary was because i really wanted to see the berlin wall. after all, it was something that happened during my lifetime and i wanted to view a part of history, seeing as we were already in that part of the world. aside from the berlin wall, i really had no expectations for anything else, but what can i say? everytime i have no expectations i seem to like a place just that little bit more. i was definitely taken in by the eccentric charm of berlin.
our hotel was located near checkpoint charlie, so that was our first stop on this trip. i never knew the significance of checkpoint charlie, but it is/was the best-known crossing point between east berlin and west berlin during the cold war.
on the opposite side of this picture of a US soldier is an image of a soviet soldier. checkpoint charlie is now a tourist attraction, but the signs remain a somber reminder of the divide between east and west berlin only some 25 years ago.
i was reluctant to leave the plush comforts of our 4.5-star hotel in munich, but was pleasantly surprised that our boutique hotel in berlin came with a sitting area, 2 giant televisions, korres toiletries and a selection of amazing teas (not your normal english breakfast/earl grey varieties).
for some reason the berlin i have in mind is bleak, gloomy, dark and dreary, but to my surprise some areas were amazingly modern! just look at this glass building…and it wasn’t the only one in the area either.
the building below with amazing architecture is the reichstag- home to the german parliament. i didn’t get a chance to enter as advanced registration is required (admission is free), but my boyfriend was keen and signed up for admission the next day (while i lazed in our hotel) and his picture tells me it’s quite shiny and modern inside as well. just like ironman’s home, no?
by the time we were finished with all of the above it was way way WAY past dinnertime so boy, was i glad to see a christmas market at potsdamer platz. this would be christmas market number 11 for us! it was so biting cold that i was craving hot, yummy food which i could not eat fast enough.
after taking care of our tummies we visited führerbunker prior to returning to our hotel as it was on the way. this was the place where hitler’s bunker was located during WWII, but has since been destroyed and is now marked in place by a plaque.
while i was getting ready to snap a picture of the plaque i heard a really weird, cackling sound but wrote it off. on closer inspection i saw a real life fox walk up to a pole right in front of my very eyes. my natural reaction was to stand still so it would not eat me! it then proceeded to cross the road and naturally stopped another pedestrian in his tracks too. i guess he didn’t want to get eaten either. foxes are usually depicted as cunning, sly and fond of trickery. how apt was it that we saw one at the ex-site of hitler’s bunker? Mere Coincidence or Divine Intervention?
lunchtime beckoned and we popped into a christmas market (no.12!) located at gendarmenmarkt square, where apparently an entrance fee was required, but we didn’t have to pay as i think we visited during a weekday, during the day where it was relatively quieter. if visitors had to pay then, i think the market would have to pay US to enter instead haha.
and finally- the infamous east side gallery which commemorates the gaining of freedom. some cliff’s notes on the berlin wall: on the stroke of midnight on 13 august 1961, police and units of the east german army began closing off the border and construction of the wall began on 17 august. many people were cut off from family on the other side without much notice and east berliners with jobs in the west were unable to go to work.
around 5,000 people were recorded to have successfully defected to west berlin, with the death toll hovering between 100-200 deaths. defectors did so by digging tunnels under the long wall, flying in hot air balloons or ultralights, or by simply driving a car through the wall (which you can see depicted below).
all too soon it was time to bid adieu to our holiday and return to london.
tips for berlin:
– registration for a visit to the reichstag is required *click*
– enjoy a currywurst, which originated in berlin in 1949
– most of our journey was either done on foot or via the berlin metro, more information available here *click*
what’s to come, i wonder?