The old Charlottenburg Gate.
Got up this am feeling still a little shakey but 100% better than the night before. We had a tour around Berlin all morning so we drove around and saw a ton of great builings just reeking in history. Berlin seemed so modern and I know that I will say this over and over again but it just amazes me that this city had parts of it that were destroyed 62 years ago. We got to see Brandenburg Gate in the daylight and it is just as amazing as it is at night. There were these 2 people standing in front of it, one in an American soldier's uniform and one in a Russian and I thought wow, that's kinda a cool concept until I saw the thank you for your donation can in front of them.
The local guide soon confirmed out of work actors, it still made a cool shot though, lol. The local guide would also point out buildings that were the occupied during the war by various sects of the Nazi's and that freaked me out. I don't think I mentioned this earlier but evidently Berlin is 345 square miles and has a population of 3.2 million people.
The hightlight of my morning was the visit to the wall. I remember being glued to the tv on that day in 1989 and thinking how weird it was for me that all my life it had been east and west Berlin so how amazing it must be for the Germans. The local guide took us by some really moving sites. there was an area of crosses that was a monument to those who had lost their lives attempting to swim from east to west.
A pretty canal.
The area of the wall itself has an exhibit called the Topography of Terror which was really, really intersting. Evidently they have uncovered the basement of the former SS, Gestapo and the Reich security forces headquarters and they decided to put up an outdoor exhibit around those ruins so people don't forget what happened there. It was in these buildings that the Nazi's planned the genocide of European Jews and the persecution and murder of other sections of the population and made reports of their mass murder. It was a very sombering exhibit paired with the spray painted messages on the remains of the wall. I was kinda of amazed that there is a wall built around the wall, but the guide said that they had to do that because people were coming by and chipping off pieces of the wall to take as souvenirs.
Beautiful Brandenburg Gate.
As a result, there are large gaping holes in the wall so now it is walled off. All over Berlin there are people selling pieces of the "wall". I think I'll just take my pictures and memories as souvenirs thanks. We also passed an area that was fenced off and there was nothing there just a field, the local guide said that there are areas like this in Berlin that used to house powerful places such as Hilter's bunker and all remnants have been destroyed so as to not draw people who still feel sympathy for the Nazi's.
We also visited the Kaiser-Whilhelm Memorial Church which was absolutely amazing. The church was destroyed in the war except for 1 tower and instead of rebuilding it, it was left as is as a memorial. A new modern building was built right next to it in 1961 I believe.
Carvings on the inside of the gate.
When you look at the church the steeple is half gone, the large stained glass window was blow out, and inside there are steps to the second level that just end and paintings and things on the ceiling that only half there. It's an amazing place. What makes it stand out even more is it's location, it's on a pretty modern shopping street filled with H & M's, Mcdonald's etc., but instead of taking away from it I think it enhances it somehow.
It was on this particular street that I began my quest for non-gas water, little was I to know that it would become a quest that would last the next 2 weeks. I think Frodo had an easier time getting the ring to Mt. Doom than I did finding non-gas water. I thought that perhaps I should be drinking water since I had been so sick the night before and could be dehydrated.
I bought a "spring water" early on in the day and when I opened it I heard the, what was to become familiar, "pssshhht" sound. This completey threw me off because at home "spring water" is still and does not come from a carbonated spring, evidently not so in Europe, lol. After a little while I decided I would try again at the Mcdonald's, so I went in and ordered a still or non-gas water in what I thought was the proper German word I had looked up in me English/German dictionary. Evidently, that was not the correct word because when I took a big drink of it...... it was gas-water. Who knew how damn popular club soda would be for Christ's sake. I came out and told Kerry that I had just wasted some more euro on carbonated water, and God love her I think she was trying so hard not to laugh.
The out of work actors.
AT this point I would've laughed to if I wasn't so damn thirsty. It had just started to rain and I thought about just standing in downtown Berlin with my mouth open trying to catch the water in my mouth when I spotted a street vendor with water. I must have had a look of absolute thirst on my face cause all I said was water and she handed me a bottle that did not go "pssshhhht" when I opened it, I could've kissed her. Had I know the quest was going to continue in every country I would have kept track of how much money I wasted on water, lol.
In the afternoon we took a trip to Potsdam to visit Sanssouci Palace, built by Frederick the Great between 1763 and 1769.
The Russian Memorial.
Frederick is also buried there although it took some time for that to happen. We walked around the gardens but it was a rainy overcast day so we didn't spend as much time as I would have liked. When I go back to Berlin this is on my list of things to see. After Sanssouci we headed to the Cecilienhof Palace the site of the Potsdam confernece in 1945. The conference lasted from July 17 to August 2, 1945, was attended by Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Stalin that ended with the Potsdam Agreement. After that exhausting day of history we headed back to the hotel for the evening.