Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Germany's Capital: Berlin

This weekend we went to Berlin with some of Matt's classmates. When we arrived we took a tour right away. Berlin is Germany's biggest tourist destination but it is so massive that you hardly feel crowded at all. But since it is so massive it is hard to get your bearings on your own. The tour guide didn't tell us much more than what I had read out of our Rick Steves book but it was so helpful to have someone navigate for us for a couple hours. Our Hotel was right on Alexander Platz where there was a cool fountain and a very informational exhibit on the post-hitler alternative youth culture. We walked down the main drag, Unter Den Linden, to Brandenburg Gate. Along the way this is some of what we saw:

Martin Luther Statue with a dash of protest.

Small Cold War memorial in the middle of a park.

Here we have the Berlin Cathedral.

Humboldt University. 27 noble prize winners have taught here, including Albert Einstein.

This is the courtyard where infamous Nazi book burning took place. Among the 20,000 books banned and burned there was one with the passage, "when you start by burning books, you end with burning people." The memorial above is a glass window that shows into a room with enough empty book shelves to hold the all the books that were burned. Matt is tap dancing on the memorial.

This is the Russian embassy. I loved it because of the USSR symbols still above the window!

Does this balcony look familiar??

This is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews WWII. It was completely entrancing. We could wander and rome all through the different concrete tombstone like blocks.

Beautiful Brandenburg Gate. The statue on top was originally named Goddess of Peace. When Napoleon took over Prussia, however, he stole it and took it the Louvre in Paris. When Napoleon was overthrow they stole it back and renamed her the Goddess of Victory.

Reichstag Building: This is Germany's Parliment building. It burned down in 1933 (many believe this was Hitlers doing) and it wasn't rebuilt until 1999.

This is at the top of the Reichstag in the glass dome on the top.

After the Parliment Building we roamed around the streets South of Unter den Linden where the Nazi and Wall history is rich. But we made a happy stop first:
This is Gendarmenmarkt Square. There are twin churches on either side (one French, one German) and the Berlin Symphony's concert hall is in the middle. This was the most charming block of Berlin.

Just on the corner of Gendarmenmarkt Square is Europes biggest Chocolate shop, Fassbender & Rausch. We tried a handful of truffles and a few different levels on chocolate and it all was so delicious! All over the store they have these enormous chocolate masterpieces.

This is just the bottom of the wall to an old bank. The holes in the concrete are bullet holes from WWII. So crazy!

Right under this parking lot is Hitler's Bunker. This is where he plotted, hid, and commited suicide.

The Berlin Wall! Even though the wall is gone, they have traced the entire thing with this double cobblestone line.

Some remnants of the Berlin Wall.

This is Check Point Charlie. Many people died trying to cross the wall into Western Berlin. The big picture on the right is of a soviet soldier looking over eastern Berlin. The other side of the picture has an American Soldier looking over the West.

We followed the cobblestone trace of the Berlin Wall for 3 miles until we came to this, The East Side Gallery. This is the biggest remaining stretch of the Wall. It is about a mile long and is covered with murals by artists from around the world.

It Started raining so we booked it to the nearest train station to find dinner.

Vapianos was the coolest restaurant! The table we are sitting at had a real huge tree growing out of the middle of it. They hand made all of their pasta and made killer pizza! My pizza has 3 types of cheese including shredded parmesan and gorgonzola, procuito, and figs! it was so tasty.

And then on the way home we passed a car show room and matt couldn't help himself!

Berlin was Awesome! So much scary recent history and incredible innovation all rolled into a huge, busy, ever-changing city. We loved it.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know of which I am more envious: the fact that you got to see remnants of the Berlin wall, or that pizza!