Grammar's Travel travel blog

Oct 11

We had to get up at 3:40 am to go to the airport. The airport was jammed and if Grammar had not managed to persuade them to let her go through the fast line for families and cripples, we would have missed the plane (even though she arrived 1. 1/2 hours before a flight that had no immigration implications). There were just lots of people and everything was slow. We will go two hours ahead next time.

The flight was good, about an hour and a half and we landed in thick fog +6C. We sat in the airport - Grammar with coffee and me with juice - for a couple of hours and Grammar read her Germany Rough Guidebook on the ipad about Berlin.. She never had time to research it before! Fortunately her friend Ruth, from Scotland, had done some research and had booked us into a Holiday Inn express about 5 minutes from Checkpoint Charlie in what used to be East Berlin.

The room was not ready when we got there at 10:30 am so we wearily wandered off to Checkpoint Charlie, where people used to cross from the American sector to the Soviet sector of Berlin. The American, British and French sectors made up West Berlin; the Soviet sector was East Berlin.

We looked at a very good and free exhibit about the Berlin wall. It included related events in Europe and elsewhere during the period before, during and after the wall eg, Prague Spring: 1968; Hungarian uprising in 1956.

We wandered towards the Brandenburg Gate through back streets and saw a lovely sculpture made of metal rods and bricks and stones in the pavement. The metal structure defined the space/volume of the Bethlehem Church, which was demolished in 1943. There are stones that outline the footprint of the church and black rows of stones that show where the pews were. It was very simple and striking. ( We have since discovered that this sculpture was meant to be a temporary installation -June 26 to Sept 30, 2012 - by the Spanish artist, Juan Garaizabol)

We ventured into the Holocaust Memorial - 4 acres of prime land containing over 2000 grey stone pillars ranging from 2 centimetres to 4 metres in height. They are set in an undulating bed so some sections are very deep. It is meant to look as though they have been there for a long time; some of the stones are tilting, just as they would in an old cemetery. There were lots of little kids and teenagers racing among the stones, playing hide and seek or just frightening one another. The architect expected, and indeed planned for this use of the site.

When we reached the impressive Brandenburg gate, we found the well hidden tourist office. We extracted some information from a grumpy agent, and then headed back to hotel, passing by the site of Hitler's bunker on the way.

Ruth and Grammar connected, sorted through the tourist blurb and talked non-stop through dinner. I was tired and snuffled off to bed (sf)

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