Another brick in the wall….

Today we breakfasted at our apartment with yogurt, fruit & muesli that we had picked up at the grocery store, supplemented by another early morning bakery run by Deb. Then we were off for another interesting, history filled day.

We took off on the S-Bahn, today realizing we could travel as a Kleiner Gruppe for a substantial discount. 🙂 Our first stop was to be at the Deutsches Museum, but I somehow got that confused and we ended up in the DDR Museum. This was however a serendipitous mistake as we all thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits at the DDR. This museum is a “hands-on experience” that shows you how the East Berliners lived from 1961 – 1989. Some aspects of their lives looked quite normal – but on closer examination, the government control was something that is hard for us to imagine. The regimentation started early, with group potty breaks – no child could leave until everyone had done their duty!

Harvey and Larry enjoyed trying out the people’s car – the Traben…. certainly not up to North American standards.

We then headed to the Deutsches Historisches Museum and this time arrived at the correct spot. This museum houses a very thorough account of German history from 100 BC to 1994. My goodness, they have had their trials & tribulations. We focused most of our attention on the period from 1918 – 1945, beginning with the German empire that emerged from the revolutionary shockwaves of the First World War to form a parliamentary democracy. The economy had a roller coaster ride, with periods of relative stability and other times with unbelievable devaluation of the currency. Entering into the 1930’s, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nazi Party) gained strength with Hitler at the helm. As we all know, this led to the darkest time in German history. The museum presents the story of the Holocaust in a factual manner, not minimizing any of the details. Many of the exhibits are haunting and leave one with a better understanding of just why intervention was required.

The museums took us well past lunch time and we paused for great sandwiches at a delightful bakery & bistro.

The next stop on our historical tour was the Berlin Wall Memorial, an outdoor exhibit at the lone remaining intact stretch of the Berlin Wall. This exhibit presents the building of the wall and continuing enhancements to try to stop the escape attempts. It also focuses on those men, women and children who lost their lives while attempting to escape from East to West Berlin.

After a lot of heavy, albeit fascinating, history, we headed to a much more light-hearted event. The Berlin version of Octoberfest is taking place at Alexandrplatz and we stopped in to check out the sites. Pretty tame compared to what Kristin & Justine have told us about the celebrations in Munich, but nevertheless, we enjoyed looking around and may return tomorrow to partake in some refreshments.

It was now late afternoon and we rode the train back to Friedrichshain for a short rest before dinner. Tonight we chose a local German eatery and indulged in some of the traditional dishes. Harv tried out the Berlin speciality of currywurst, Bev had schnitzel and Larry enjoyed the goulash. Deb was the health conscious one of the group, ordering a delicious chicken salad. It was all great, paired with another good German beer.

Now off to sleep before our last day of touring Berlin – a city that we are thoroughly enjoying!


B, H, D & L

Why are we sitting in the middle of the road?

We all arose this morning between 7:30 & 8:30 am, feeling rested to various degrees. :-). Deb visited the local bakery and returned with a delightful variety of baking that we could nibble on with our Via coffee while we planned our day. At 10, we zipped across the street to the Kaufbar fir our complimentary welcome breakfast. It was great!

Feeling very well-fed, we headed off to the local S-Bahn station and traveled to the Hauptbahnhof, Berlin’s main train station. It is very modern and quite impressive.

We then set off on our own rambling self-guided tour. We passed the Reichstag, and continued on to take a look at the Brandenburg Gate. Lots of action there – we couldn’t determine if they were tearing down from yesterday’s Marathon or setting up for German Unification Day on Thursday.

We wandered for a ways down Unter Den Linden, checking out numerous embassies and some high end shops. A detour took us to Gendarmenmarkt where we saw the Konzerthaus. From there to Checkpoint Charlie. Although the actual checkpoint isn’t much to look at, there was a very interesting display with the history of the Berlin Wall and the many attempts to cross it, some successful but many with not-so-happy endings. L & D had driven up to the checkpoint in West Berlin in 1989, just the month before the collapse of the wall. It was very interesting for them to remember it as it was and see it today!

We then strolled back to Unter Den Linden, examining the buildings on the way. The East Berlin architectural style was certainly stark, uniform and utilitarian.

We passed through the H university area, where both Lenin and Marx studied and Einsten was a professor for a time. The historic buildings here were much more appealing.

We sat for a while in square in front of the Berliner Dom, listening to a street violinist and watching people. This is at one end of Museum Island, which is the home to a number of notable museums – and is also the home to many cranes as construction is booming! Not being real museum people, we admired the exterior of the buildings and continued on our walk. We do plan to return to visit the DDR Museum at some point this week.

By this time, it was well past time for a kaffee break and we found a delightful kaffeehaus where we relaxed for a while.

We hopped back on the S-bahn and headed back to the Brandenburg Gate. We watched some protesters who are apparently on Day 30 of a hunger strike – Deb & I think they looked a little too healthy for that?

Our next stop was the Memorial the the Murdered Jews of Europe. Consisting of 2711 stark blocks, it is a haunting monument and will hopefully continue as a statement that such atrocities cannot occur again. Hmmm – perhaps some current Russian politicians need to visit here….

The Tiergarten offered a lovely spot for a peaceful walk. Debbie commented that it always amazes her how parks such as this can seem so peaceful in the midst of a bustling city! We passed an interesting area – the Global Stone Project. There are 5 stone groups here and 5 others in the 5 continents of their origin. Once a year, on June 21, the light of the sun connects all 10 stones by reflecting the light beams. Viewers are invited to join the invisible straight lines using their imagination to create a circle a symbol of a united mankind.

Our walk in the park culminated at the Siegessaule (Victory Column), an impressive monument built to commemorate the creation of the German empire following the Treaty of Versailles.


Another trek down the street, a short U-bahn ride, a longer S-bahn trip, a bit of a walk, a stop at the supermarket and we were home. Then off to a local pizzaria for a fabulous dinner of salad and authentic Italian pizza. One of these days, we will actually get to German cuisine, but so far have been enjoying the ethnic diversity of the neighbourhood we are staying in.

Oh and Deb couldn’t finish her wine – hated to waste it. 🙂


B,H, L & D