At Duisburg, Germany we caught a reserved sleeper train to finish our trip to Berlin.
The sleeping booth was very cramped and very noisy. So glad we woke up early as we were only given a 12 minute warning of our stop in Berlin, with only 5 minutes to depart the train. Cindy had left her small backpack which contained all of our schedule information. She remembered it was on the bed just before the train pulled out of the station…whew!!! We did not sleep very well, so we went straight to our hotel which was very close to the train station.
It was a newly opened hotel, so modern that we had to put our key card in a slot to turn on the lights. Took us a bit to figure that out. The best part, it was free as we had reserved it using reward points off one of our credit cards. They let us check in at 7:30am and we took a 2 hour “nap’ before we had to leave for our walking tour. We walked to Market Square, where we met Walter. As we walked around he gave us lots of historical information but his major was impressionist art so he kept asking how the buildings made us feel. The entire tour was World War II and Cold War sites. We learned that Berl means swamp which is what much of the land was like when it was settled in the 14th century.
The bullet holes from World War II are still visible in the buildings and columns. It took 15 years to clean up the debris and rubble from World War II.
We walked past a peace memorial and a library.
This square is where a famous book burning took place in 1933 where 20,000 books were burned in one night. There is a window that looks down into a book room.
We thought the “crossing guard” was clever, and somewhat of a celebrity in Berlin.
During the Cold War, this station was left intact but no trains were allowed to stop.
We headed toward the Bradenburg Gate. Constructed from 1788-1791 as a sign of peace. On the way, saw the hotel where Michael Jackson stood on the balcony and held his baby over the railing.
We walked past several embassies, including the United States.
At the gate we saw the outline of the Berlin wall…in 1961 Russia has had enough with Germans fleeing to the west. 40,000 border guards are deployed in the middle of the night and create a 24 hour barrier until the permanent wall is built.
We made a quick stop at a pastry shop…good thing we don’t live in Europe, as we love the croissants and pastries.
There is a World War II memorial that takes up an entire block. It is very symbolic and you are asked to be reflective and solemn while you walk through it.
We walked to Hitler’s bunker which is now the courtyard of an apartment building. It is not physically marked so that it does not become a shrine. Hitler did not want to surrender and stayed in the bunker for 2 weeks, until his death. Also stopped for a moment at a Communist art exhibit about how work will set you free.
We next headed to the only remaining portion of the Berlin Wall. The wall was breached on November 9, 1989, reuniting East and West Berlin.
The streets are marked with where the wall once stood.
Next stop was Checkpoint Charlie…where people crossed from East Berlin to West Berlin.
We stopped at the square with beautiful churches.
Berlin is home to an internet game company, which we found entertaining as several members of our family play Farm Hero Saga and Candy Crush.
After our walking tour, we walked to the Berlin TV Tower, which is much like the Space Needle we have visited in Seattle. Along the way we looked at the construction that was taking place and also caught some great views of the tower.
We purchased tickets to go to the top…
At the various views there were signs which told you what world city you were facing towards. After enjoying the views of Berlin, we walked back towards our hotel and noticed the man-hole covers. We then stopped for the “untraditional” Germany dinner of pasta, but it was really good. Bruschetta to start and then Vegi Penne, Mushroom Cheese, and Gorgonzola Tortellini
It had been a full day in Berlin. We learned alot of history, saw many sites, but we had to catch an early train to Prague in the morning, besides, all the TV shows were in German.