Michelle and Charlie's Around the World Trip 2004-2005 travel blog

"Ich bin ein Berliner"- our Australian guide and his audience

The Brandenburg gate.

Guess if our President is popular with Germans or not!

the pride of East Germany's architecture



keep hand at all times inside of ???

the parliament building

the new Potzdamer platz

inside of Dunkin Donut


the railways station where ex west berliners used to arrive to to...

undescript parking lot where Hitler's bunker was and where his body was...

a little bit of the Wall

there is a lot of babylon in the pergamon museum

at the entry to the pergamon museum

In the Pergamon museum

After warm days in Budapest very pleasant, cooler weather greeted us. We settled in the hostel in ex-East Berlin (sharing room with another 7 was a record for us) then went for a walk to the Brandenburg gate, then on to the shiny new Potsdamer Platz (sp?) [It actually was very nice, well decorated and clean and the other roommates were very considerate. Although I may be biased because I picked it. - Michelle] At the latter we went into Dunkin Donuts, which had a very pleasant lodge looking area and arsenal of internet linked computers. What's the deal with DD, McDonalds and BK?? They all have very nice internet links in central Europe, but not at home? Anyway, our first impression was a very good one. Berlin is bustling with construction and truly exciting new architecture. The added benefits are the pink tubes. Since the city was built on a marshy area, whenever they dig down there is plenty of water to be sucked away. For that there are lots and lots of pink painted tubes going above head in the city, looking like a spider web of modern art.

Since we had only one full day there we decided to take a walking tour. Most of those who went on the tour came from the ex West side and someone came by our hostel to pick us up and take us to a square nearby to wait for them. He, as everyone else from that company, was not native but came from Canada. He mentioned that an older man just told him that the Nazis were hard at work to get rid of their opposition even during the last days of the war and hence from the unassuming windows of the square where we were waiting people were hanged.

The rest of the group showed up with the guide, an Australian. He was very funny. First a general story of the city, then we stopped at the area where the city's Jews used to live before the war. Next we stopped at a building that used to be one of the biggest department stores that short of the fa├žade had collapsed in the war and now is a focal point the techno/rave culture. It features a store that is full of anti Bush memorabilia. Oh, yes, by now it was clear that there are no friends of G.W. Bush in Berlin. [As a matter of fact in the last 3.5 months we touched on 13 countries and when US politics came up as a topic we found no person who was even remotely sympathetic to the policies of George W. Can anyone tell me why is foreign policy his perceived strength in the US when he achieved that the US is disliked everywhere in the world?] [He he - that's not his strength anymore after the debate - Michelle]. The block became a hotspot after the Wall came down. Before in West Germany there was only one exemption to the mandatory military service: residents of West Berlin were not drafted. Hence many of the alternative thinking west German young men moved there. Once the wall came down they discovered the area as a prime place for squatting. Further we stopped at a train station. It looks like nothing special now, but during the old times this was a major link between East and West Berlin. The westerners rolled in, got a dusk to dawn visitor permit, met their relatives, then in the evening left again. To avoid too many public cries there was a building put up for saying good byes. Near it is the Reichstag and only a few feet away on the ground a mark where the Wall used to stand. We also stopped at the site where a huge new memorial is being built for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazis. This impressive project draws some criticism, though. Not that there is a second thought about the penitence that it would express, but for one some question that why are the other 3 million victims of the camps -the gypsies, gays, political opponents and Russian POWs- excluded? It is also the concern that the design - hundreds of stone slabs shaped like a tomb, some a foot high, others up to 8 feet tall arranged like a big city- put into the middle of a huge city that has its share of nuts and ignorant people is going to be a prime location for less than respectful behavior. [The memorial looks really cool though. - Michelle] The next stop was the least touristy looking one. It was an unpaved parking lot in the shadow of apartment buildings. This is where Hitler's bunker was, where he committed suicide, then a few steps away the bomb crater where his and Eva Braun's body was burnt. The next stops were again reminders of both the Nazi and the divided era. The tour was great and I can highly recommend it to those of you who are visiting Berlin.

For the afternoon we went over to the heart of the ex west Berlin, then in the late afternoon we dropped in to the Pergamon museum that was free for he last 2 hours before closing. This museum is a showcase of huge items, including entire gates of the ancient Babylon and again is time very well spent in the city. [We had also been planning to check out the famous Berlin night life, but sadly we were just too tired. We went into a bar near the hostel and it was too loud and smoky so we left immediately. I guess it's official that I'm 30. - Michelle]

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