Ich bin ein Berliner!

Berlin Travel Blog

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Hello everyone!  This is Berlin calling.  After a pretty tiring and hectic night traveling to London Stansted with our flight departing at 06:25 we finally touched down in Berlin at 10:07 local time after out flight was delayed (while we were all sitting on it!) by an hour.  Arriving into Berlin was easy and after taking a bus, the U-bahn (underground) and walking a little bit we got to the Meininger hotel - proudly proclaiming to be "good in beds."  We headed almost straight back out but was nice to finally be at our base, if only for the next 2 days.

I think every travler hates the first day!  I mean this in the most positive way of course.  I think it's only natural to suddenly ask yourself, even after over a years planning, 'what the hell have I go myself into?!'  Suddenly the reality of what we were doing hit me like a whipped towel across the back, and the mamouth task of 6 countries, 6 cities, and just a month to do it all in hit home.

Needless to say we battled on and first stop was the Free bike tour of the city.  A truely fantastic way to see such a culturally, historically and socially rich city!  Although a little rocky to start with (it has been a long time since I got on a bike...) we were soon successful ignoring all other cars on the road and biking through the heart of Germany's capital.  We saw loads but a few worth mentioning are, the Reichstag, SS Headquarters, Hitler's bunker (now a very nice car park haha), Checkpoint Charlie. the last remains of the Berlin wall and the Brandenburg Gate.  A funny story about the Brandenburg gate...

The gate in one of the landmarks of not only Berlin, but all of Germany.  It was the gate to the city when Germany had a Royal Family - kind of Berlin's London Bridge.  So a very important part of Berlin.  The Americans are currently building a new Embassy for themselves.  (I'm still laughing in disbelief as typing...) Out of 'security reasons' the Americans actually asked Berlin whether they would MOVE the Gate - bearing in mind it has stood in this place for 200 years! - so they could have a better security zone.  Unbelievable!  Only the Americans!  Some may say slightly paranoid...

Berlin is not as I expected it to be.  Not better, not worse, just different.  It's a very quiet place and nowhere do you get the feeling you are wandering around the middle of a city.  Completely un-London like.  Its peaceful and laid back and no one seems to be running around or busying themselves.  It feels like Stroud almost!  We've yet to go on the pub crawl, and not yet headed out an night properly, but by night I expect this to change!  Lets hope so anyway!  The green-ness is very apparent also.  Recycling is standard part of throwing waste away, cycle paths are on every street and the public transport is cheap and efficient.  We have a bit of catching up to do I think.

Today we went to Sachenhausen Concentration Camp.  A place of torture, abuse and death.  The most poinent thing was the comment our tour guide made at the end, and was something I had thought of as we toured.  What we were seeing was history, it's a past event.  And we ask ourselves 'How did we let this happen?'  But the reality it - this is happening today.  It happened in Rwanda, its happening in Darfur and Sudan.  We should be asking ourselves 'How are we letting this happen?'
What was also interesting were the memorials.  At this camp there were political prisoners, jews, homosexuals, criminals and people who didn't fit into one group.  After it was closed down, the East Berlin Government built a memorial remembering the Communist prisoners.  Not any other group.  There is a plaque for the homosexuals, another for the jews.  It seems the verz segregation that was meant that have been ended through a bitter war, is continuing today - ironically as a symbol of rememberance for the people who were persecuted by it.  Something not right there.

As for me, I'm good!  Ear infection has cleared up and was fine up until I put more drops in!  Always the way.  So out with the drops.  Still got Athletes foot which is irritating, especially as we're walking all the time, but got some cream to hopefully sort that.  But I'm great!  Hope you are all well at home.  Missing you all of course.

Alex x

Ps.  Im wearing short and t-shirts....are you? haha
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photo by: CFD