COLOURFULWORLD

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Our European holiday - Berlin & Signs

Please check other Signs from around the world at Tom's blog.

DAY 2

We woke up early, took the underground train and reached our destination about 20min later. We had breakfast at a nearby Cafe, then walked a short while to Parizer Platz (Paris Square) in the historic centre of Berlin, where the famous Brandenburg Gate is located.

The square is surrounded by lots of Embassies, the most expensive hotel in Berlin (the Adlon Kempinski Hotel), the Academy of Arts and apartment/office buildings.

Apart from the Brandenburg Gate everything around the square was turned to rubble by air raids during the war. When the city was divided by the Berlin Wall, the area where the Gate was fell under the "death zone" dividing the cities. 

After the city reunited in 1989, the area was reconstructed, and the square was once again turned into a beautiful space. Looking at all those buildings around the square you would think they had been there forever...

The Adlon Hotel and the Academy of Arts

We had booked a tour with Walking Tours of Berlin, and this was the meting place. After the guide and all guests introduced themselves, we were ready to go.

To our left was the Deutscher Bundestag (Parliament) with a glass dome at the top with a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. 

There is free admission to the dome for the public, advance registration is required with ID/passport details. Sadly we didn't book and didn't have our ID's with us to try and see if we could get in when we were there.

               

To the right of the Brandenburg Gate we walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It's a 19000 sqmt (200,000 sqft) site with 2711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. It was inaugurated in 2005, sixty years after the end of the WWII.  The area where it was built was also part of the "death strip" that once divided the city. Nearby, under an apartment building parking lot was what once was Hitler's bunker. 

Next we walked to the Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundes Finanz Ministerium), in Wilhelm street, a very austere building which was formerly the Air-Ministry headquarters.

A few minutes down the road there was an open-air exhibition called "Topography of terror", with photographs, graphics and documents, set along part of the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall, to which the 3 of us returned to later in the day. 

Across the road was this huge "Die Welt" balloon (a national newspaper) and next to it the Trabi World, a tour company that offers guided tours of Berlin in Trabant vintage cars (cars from the DDR).


We reached Check Point Charlie, one of the most famous Berlin Wall crossing points between East and West Germany, during the cold war (1947-1991). 


After an explanation about the check-point, we walked on for a couple of blocks until we reached the area called Gendarmenmarkt, known for the Berlin Christmas markets, and across from it is the identical French and German churches, dating back to the 17th century. 

And this where we ended our walking tour of Berlin, and our friendly guide departed with our cash donations. 

French church

We stopped for lunch at Vapiano - a German franchise restaurant offering Italian food (just a block away from the Wall Museum). 

 

After lunch we returned to Check Point Charlie, to visit the Wall Museum in Friedrich Street. This is a private museum created to document the so called "best border security system in the world". Entry costs €17/Adults which is quite steep.

Replica of Checkpoint Charlie (on left)

Billboard signs warning you were leaving or entering the American Sector, with the Russian and American soldiers

The exhibitions shine a light on the many stories of pain, loss and courage of the hundreds of people that attempted to flee East Germany, and history of the cold war. Descriptions can be read in German, English, French and Russian. 
There is probably a bit too much in the 3 or 4 floors of the Museum, and towards the end I was getting a bit tired of all the walking and standing. 

Many tried to escape hidden in car, in furniture, in musical instruments...
  
A slice of the wall and a DDR border mark (top left)

After the visit to the Museum we walked 15 minutes to Postdamer Platz, to climb to the observation deck of Panoramapunkt to experience the stunning views over Berlin. You buy your 9,00 € ticket, then get into the fastest lift in Europe that takes you to the top in 20 seconds! You can also read a lot of information about the history of the square as you walk around the platform, and you can end your visit with a drink at the bar on the 25th floor.

Postdamer Platz had in the 1920's the first traffic lights in Europe and was Berlin's busiest area with traffic, shopping and entertainment. After WW II the area was in ruins and lay lifeless in the "death strip" between the divided cities until 1989. After the fall of the wall, international investors and international architects brought about its resurrection, and nowadays it's one of Berlin's trendiest places.



I even spotted a mural from high above, but we had no time to wander around to search for it...

A hidden mural seen from Panorampunkt


The tower closes at 7,30pm in Summer, but we had a dinner booking at 8,00pm at Schnitzelei Restaurant, at 8 Chaussee str, so we caught the underground and then a tram to the area. The restaurant is very popular and as the name indicates their speciality is schnitzel, and they have two sittings per dinner, so bookings are essential.
Karina had mentioned her boss was also in Berlin with his wife and kids, and we were halfway through our meal when he walked past and was surprised to see Karina. What a coincidence to meet up in such a huge city!


After dinner it was time to take the tram back to our hotel for some rest, as we had another full day the following day!


The cute and different traffic lights that we saw in Berlin

You can't miss this sign! Ice-cream anyone?

33 comments:

  1. How fun. Love the beautiful photographs and especially the food. Yummy. What a fabulous vacation.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Sami. ♥

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    1. Thanks Sandee, always great to try different foods.

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  2. Your travel photos are always so impressive. The chicken Parma photos are just so nice to view. The urban frames really depict the great design of the city.

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  3. That's the best visitor account of Berlin I've read. I look forward to more.

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    1. Thank you Andrew, I'm glad you enjoyed my descriptions of our visit to Berlin :)

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  4. Hoje gostei especialmente de ver os famosos Trabant

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  5. I think I am more attracted to the smaller, more charming towns, but Berlin looks very important historically. You're a great guide!

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    1. Thanks Jeanie. Small towns can be very charming for sure, but Berlin was really special.

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  6. Dearest Sami,
    What a special meeting with Karina's boss and family—indeed in such a huge city!
    We had the very same once with one of our Canadian bosses from Vancouver and when we were in The Netherlands, he just stepped out of a restaurant... Incredible but true.
    Berlin is a special city and of course we would have loved to visit it once; never happened. My youngest brother, wife and daughter went by rapid train from The Netherlands a couple of years ago.
    Fond memories for you...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  7. Terror it sure was... but Trabiworld sounds fun! And the food looks yummy.
    I had earrings with the Ampelmännchen, I lost, I think, the red one.
    Thank you for the tour. We plan to drive to Innotrans2022 to Berlin tomorrow.
    Sad when you take the car to visit a railway-exhibition cause that is a lot cheaper.

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    1. They had so many colourful trabis, it would have been fun to tour around Berlin in one of them :) Enjoy your visit to Berlin.

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  8. Gostei de ver estas belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Andarilhar
    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    Livros-Autografados

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  9. It should give hope to Ukraine that cities can be rebuilt after the destruction of war. Berlin looks cosmopolitan and beautiful.

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    1. Thanks David. Hopefully the world will help rebuild Ukraine. Sorry your comment had gone to spam.

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  10. ...I still remember all of the Trabant driving of the GDR when the wall came down. Thank Sami for sharing this wonderful post.

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    1. Thanks Tom. That would have been a great sight Tom. Thanks for hosting :)

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  11. How fine to see your wonderful photos of Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate is such an important symbol of recent post war history.

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    1. Brandenburg Gate is certainly one of the most well known symbols of Berlin :)

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  12. Nice photos, brings back memories when we visited Berlin some years ago.

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    1. A nice city, so nice that you have visited it also.

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  13. I was most impressed with Brandenburg Gate and the museum. I just finished watching a three part episode on the Holocaust, so that was very interesting to see how people got away in East Berlin. I suspect some (most Jews) tried to leave Germany during Hitler's reign in similar ways. Thanks for sharing this amazing and beautiful day and city to us.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. It wasn't easy for them to leave, but many tried.

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  14. Fantastically detailed post and photographs of your trip.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan, glad you are enjoying the trip.

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  15. Interesting post. We were in Berlin in 2001 and I see it has changed since then. They were construction cranes everywhere on the eastern side because they were rebuilding.

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    1. A lot has been done, it's like a new city. Thanks Linda

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