Strolling in the Heart of Berlin

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Berlin is one of those cities where you will walk and walk and walk for hours and still you won’t get to see everything that you want. We went for three days and we can’t wait to go back, explore things we didn’t get a chance too and maybe experience it with a little less grey sky. I imagine it’s beautiful in the summer months, out and about, riding on bikes because Berlin has a really well developed cafe/outdoor culture.

Berlin definitely has an edgy side to it with cool vintage shops, wide streets and underground bars. But it also has quite a dark and intriguing history. In the past 100 years it has seen the rise of Nazism, a genocide, communist control and then re-unification. Every building, memorial or landmark tells a different story of turmoil, conflict or peace from a different era in time. It is easy to get confused, so Sean and I decided to go on a free walking tour of Central Berlin and the Reichstag. PS. we didn’t get the chance to go up into the dome on the top of the Reichstag as you need to book in advance. The dome is supposed to represent transparency and Parliament sits below the glass dome looking up into the sky. A nice metaphor but understandably its not something you can book on the day as you need security clearance…

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We were really impressed with the Holocaust memorial. It was far more evocative than we expected. Each ‘tomb’ has the exact same width and length dimension, but the designer Peter Eisenman, has built the memorial on uneven terrain, there is a gentle slope down into the memorial, making the tombs stand taller around you, the effect is overwhelming and consuming, which I think really well reflects the turmoil that the Jews went through during that time.

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Walking around Berlin you also see snapshots of the Berlin Wall. A wall that divided West Berlin and East Berlin during the communist era, post WWII when Germany was divided in two. The story of how the wall came down is remarkable and not something I will cover here, but it was interesting to look down at the ground from time to time and notice this line of cobbled paving. This is a reminder of where the wall used to divide the city.

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We also luckily stumbled on a Saturday fleamarket on Museum Island where we picked up many wares, some records, a TinTin print and some old fashioned brown glass medical bottles.

There is so so much more to explore in Central Berlin, one corner after another exposes another great feat of history and architecture. Our afternoon carried on much in the same vain as the morning.

By the time darkness fell our feet were sore and we didn’t venture very far from our apartment. Luckily the restaurants nearby were just too good to resist. We chose pizzeria Monella for our red wine fuelled recovery!

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