Corny title I know but I’ve read so much about Berlin and it’s history in the last few weeks that Kennedy’s “We have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in” speech needs a reference.
Berlin is a big capital city, it’s got lots of the bits that other big cities have, but what it has on top is a crazy crazy history of change that in the last 100 and a bit years has been just nuts. This Berlin wears on it’s sleeve (not necessarily by choice) with it’s architecture (not so much old, lots of new, western vs eastern), it’s parks (Templehofer Feld, and some of the huge rubble mounds from post war re-construction), but maybe most is monuments and museums. I get the idea that to be a Berliner means to never forget the recent history of division and war.
I’m not going to talk about what we did in a list as Jayne’s covered that but these are patricular things i’ll remember from Berlin…
– History wherever you look. There’s the obvious, but then the less. We walked out of our camping place into Humboldthain park opposite and there was a hill we walked up for the view. Turns out it was one of many huge mounds created from cleared rubble after the war. I was walking through from checkpoint charlie to the holocaust memorial and stumbled on Hitler’s bunker. It’s just everywhere and not just in the centre.
– An evening ride out into town on my bike. I rode down through Hackescher Markt to Alexanderstraße and Karl-Marx-Allee and being stuck by the sudden change to the monumental DDR architecture. I stopped at a cool outdoor shop called CAMP4 to get Jayne a pannier and me a new shell, then rolled a bit further to the Berlin beer festival which was a bit overwhelming….until I’d had a few beers!
– The English bookshop. Sad I know but I’d run out of english books and would rather read paper than tablet if I can. I bought one on Berlin, the Stasi, German history……(and a random booker nominee). I’m justifying the expense on them being souvenirs that are educational!!!
– All of us meeting up and getting lovely street food at a random celebration of something or other near Alexander Platz.
– My afternoon in Berlin with my headphones and time to visit a couple of the more hard to explain (to kids) sights. The parents reading this will understand how nice it was to just be able to roam and not have to stop every five mins for another toilet stop or snack stop. I got to see the Topography of Terror, the holocaust memorial, DDR museum, but most of all I got to walk and make my way from place to place without a pushchair or a child in a sling. It was awesome (I also sneaked in a beer overlooking the river…don’t tell Jayne!
– The wall and how crazy it actually was. I knew, I’d read about it before, but seeing the places and understanding the scale is…well…chilling?
I’ve come away thinking that Berlin would be a fantastic place to spend a lot longer!