Crazy day in Berlin

Berlin Travel Blog

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Rent-a-bike! You just call the number on the bike and it is unlocked, leaving you free to ride around the city

My train brought me into Berlin at about midnight.  I had booked a hostel online and let them know that I was going to be in late that night.  So, I took the U-Bahn over to my stop, and got off.  It was very dark, but after getting turned around a bit I found my way to the hostel.  I checked in and went right to bed.

I woke up at a decent time and started to make my way out the door.  As I was leaving, a poster for an all day walking tour caught my eye.  It said it was 8 hours long, but it was very cheap and something just told me that I would be learning a lot about Berlin.  I looked up at the sky and say nothing but dark, grey rainclouds.

Brandenburg Gate
  I put on my poncho, bought my ticket, and headed out.

I walked to Alexanderplatz.  From there, I found my way to the meeting point for the tour.  I was a little early, and for a while I thought the tour was cancelled because no one else seemed to be waiting around for anything.  Then, seemingly all at once, people came from all directions for the tour.  As I finished meeting everyone, our tour guide stolled up, large umbrella in hand.  He was an American, but he had be living a while in Berlin - he just looked knowledgeable.  Our first order of business was to head across the street and pick up some lunch, which we would eat a little bit later.  I don't remember when or where we did eat lunch.  I'll do my best to talk about what happened on teh 8 hour walking tour, but I won't do it justice.

The Reichstag
..it was an awesome tour and we got to see a ton of sites.  There is a ton of history and building explanations that I just won't remember to put in here, so you'll have to check it out for yourself!

Our tour started down a quiet street as the heavens rained down on us.  The guide pointed out a building that definitely stood out among the others.  It was a Jewish Synagogue.  We were walking through the Jewish quarter in Berlin.  As we continued on, we came to a bike on the corner.  We learned that this was a "rent a bike", you simply call the number on the bike, unlock it with your credit card, and ride it where you need to go.  They are all over the city but you never know where you are going to find one.  I thought that was a neat idea.

Holocaust Memorial
  Next, we walked past some buildings that had been bombed and rebuilt in different fashions - some by communists and some by capitalists.  I wish I could remember which was which.

Our next stop on the tour (and by this point I had no idea where we were) was to a piece of the Berlin Wall.  This piece of the wall had been removed at some point during the teardown and was painted, perhaps to bring a sense of peace to the whole thing.  We then headed onto the Pariser Platz, and the Brandenburg Gate.  This gate, once one of the gates leading out of the city, has been the spotlight of even recent events.  The Quadriga of Victory sits on top of the gate, although it was removed by Napoleon in the early 1800's and moved to Paris.

Only remnant of the Berlin wall
  Brought back after his defeat, it remains on the Brandenburg Gate today.  After World War II, the gate was closed as a result of the separation of East and West Berlin, and it would remain closed for close to 50 years, where it served as a boundary between the two parts of the city.  Next to the gate was a bank with some interesting architecture inside.

We walked from there to the Reichstag, the German Parliament building.  We did not go inside, rather we spent some time looking at the memorial nearby.  This was a memorial of the members of the parliament who were killed during the Nazi regime.  Close by is a memorial to the Soviet fighters of World War II.  The next memorial we encountered was really interesting.  It was the Holocaust memorial, in honor of the Jewish population that lost their lives.

Checkpoint Charlie
  Look at the pictures, it is a very unique monument.  These...stone slabs start small, but as you walk into the memorial, you simply...vanish into the rock.  Nearby this memorial is where Hitler's bunker stood, where he was when he killed himself.  Now there's nothing left.

Before I forget, there were actually various times where we stopped and, over a cup of coffee, talked about the history of Germany, or a person, place, the culture, something.  It was a really neat addition to the tour, to not just see the sights, but to learn about the people and the times.  Plus, it was rainy and it was nice to break up the 8 hour tour a little!

After leaving Hitler's bunker, we made our way to the only remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall.

Bebelplatz
  There's about 200 meters (I think) of wall left in one area of Berlin as a memorial.  Below this wall is the Gestapo museum, which portrays some of their terrible acts during and before the war.  We didn't spend time here on the tour, but I came back the next day to check it out.  By this point, the rain and wind were bad, but that did not stop any of us!

Our next stop on the walking tour was Checkpoint Charlie.  Although not the original, this replica stands in the place where the original once stood.  On the ground you can see cobblestones where the outer wall once stood.  For those that do not know, there was an outer Berlin Wall, folowed by some 20 meters of traps, tanks, etc, and then an inner wall.  They didn't want anyone making it to the other side.

Berliner Dom
  We passed by a German Cathedral on the way to the chocolate shop!

This ritzy chocolate shop was more of a pit stop for us than an actual tour destination, but it was neat all the same.  We smelled the smells and saw the sights inside, and some people bought some.  I just looked and tried not to touch.  Our next stops on the tour were to the Koncerthaus followed by a Catholic Church that was bombed out during the war, and carefully redone.  After the church was Bebelplatz, which is where the infamous book burning took place.  There is a memorial here to the books - below ground exists a large room, with bookshelves, that could hold every book burned.  As the tour winded down, we passed by the Berliner Dom and made notice of the large communist structure next to it.

Pergamon museum

The tour wrapped up in the museum area of Berlin, right near the Berliner Dom.  Our guide told us as he left that on Thursdays (this day was a Thursday) after 5:00, all museums were free.  So, some of the group, including myself, went to the Pergamon museum to see some ancient history.  I won't spend much time talking about it, but there were famous gates from Mesopotamia, Greek structures, and much more...for free!  It was really cool!

Tired after a busy day, we all parted ways and I went to the hostel.  On the way I got some food to cook up and did just that.  I took the time in the evening to record as much of the day as I could so I could share it in the future, as I am doing here.

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Rent-a-bike!  You just call the nu…
Rent-a-bike! You just call the n…
Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
The Reichstag
The Reichstag
Holocaust Memorial
Holocaust Memorial
Only remnant of the Berlin wall
Only remnant of the Berlin wall
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Bebelplatz
Bebelplatz
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Pergamon museum
Pergamon museum
Berlin Rathaus
Berlin Rathaus
Chocolate Brandenburg Gate!
Chocolate Brandenburg Gate!
Chocolate Titanic!
Chocolate Titanic!
Koncerthaus
Koncerthaus
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Ishtar Gate (from Babylon)
Ishtar Gate (from Babylon)
Berlin Church
Berlin Church
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Jewish Synagogue
Jewish Synagogue
These buildings were bombed and re…
These buildings were bombed and r…
Soviet Memorial in Berlin
Soviet Memorial in Berlin
Holocaust Memorial
Holocaust Memorial
Nothing remains of Hitlers bunker
Nothing remains of Hitler's bunker
Our guide and his ruined umbrella
Our guide and his ruined umbrella
Berlin Cathedral
Berlin Cathedral
This communist building is next to…
This communist building is next t…
Underground memorial to the books …
Underground memorial to the books…
This church was bombed out
This church was bombed out
Piece of the wall
Piece of the wall
This was inside a bank - I have no…
This was inside a bank - I have n…
Memorial to the government officia…
Memorial to the government offici…
Stones placed where the outer wall…
Stones placed where the outer wal…
Chocolate titanic in one of the be…
Chocolate titanic in one of the b…
Bombed out church
Bombed out church
Berlin
photo by: CFD