After showing Chase’s family around Amsterdam, we took an early morning
flight to Berlin to kick off the week of spring break with two side trips. None
of us had been before, and we landed on a very grey and drizzly day. We took
a cab through the outskirts and into the city, making our first impression of
the city a little depressing. Rows upon rows of huge block apartment buildings
as far as the eye could see, graffiti, and a dark grey day made us a little bit unsure
of how we’d like Berlin. After getting to our AirBnb and grabbing lunch we got tickets
for a hop-on/ hop-off bus tour (thanks to Chase’s negotiating skills ;) because it was
pouring rain and we wanted to still be out and about! It helped us get around to all of
the sights and hear a lot of history in between while warming up. It was pretty wet and
rainy the entire time, but we managed to fit in all of the things we wanted to see…which
was a lot here! There is so much history between World War II and the Cold War, and
though it’s so important and interesting to see, it does make for a sobering type of trip.
While we were there the Brussels airport/metro bombing also happened…
bringing even more of a somber tone to our time here. We just took everything
slow and had a week focused on issues from the past as well as of today. There
are definitely some dark sides to this world, but there is hope and goodness
that shines through and that’s what is cool about visiting Berlin – seeing and
learning about the way the people, city, and country rose above the darker times.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe ^^
This memorial is simple and not beautiful or ornate, but I think it’s
done just the right way to symbolize and represent what was done to
so many innocent people. It’s rough from the outside, but also so peaceful
to walk through the columns and remember. So so important to remember.
From there we headed to the Topography of Terrors, which is a lot to
take in but such a must-do. It is on the site of some of the main Nazi headquarter
buildings and the museum goes in depth through the 1933-1945 war years in Berlin.
We walked by the Führerbunker almost without realizing it. The sight where Hitler’s
bunker once stood is now a dirt parking lot with one sign. It seems strange, but I
think it’s actually just how it should be – the bunker completely demolished,
with no trace or extra attention on the sight where a man like that stayed.
Checkpoint Charlie was crazy to visit, especially after seeing photos of how it
really looked at the time. I can’t imagine a time when the city was truly divided.
The East Side Gallery is a little bit more cheery and definitely worth visiting.
Though it’s a portion of the Berlin Wall, the murals and artwork represent
the rebirth and good things that came after the wall fell. It is now the largest
open-air gallery in the world and stretches 1.3 kilometres. It’s the longest single
segment which still remains of the Berlin Wall. In 1989 when the wall fell,
hundreds of artists from all over the world painted this part of the wall.
The murals and artwork make political commentary and spread love
and peace after so much hardship. It’s funky and interesting and it’s a
good thing to do after taking in all of the other sights!
Baby bump in Berlin ^^
Some of the iconic murals near the end ^^
The iconic Brandenburg Gate of Berlin ^^
Both baby girl bumps in Berlin! ^^ It will be fun to
show these future cousins their first trip together :)
Gendarmenmarkt is the prettiest square in the city, so we made sure to stop by ^^
We also lightened the mood with a stroll down the famous street: grand Unter
den Linden. It went past Humboldt University, the Deutsches Historisches
Museum (German History Museum) and the Neue Wache memorial.
Other favorite Berlin sights included the Tiergarten park, Kaiser Willhelm
Memorial Church with its incredible history having been bombed in WWII,
Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra, Auguststraße, Berlin Cathedral, DDR
Museum, Nikolaiviertel island, and the Reichstag (get reservations for this!!)
One sign of spring amidst all of the gloom! ^^
The little German man with the hat on the crossing signs was our favorite! ^^ Some of our favorite meals in Berlin were at Burger AMT, Vapiano,
& Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab… other suggestions we didn’t get to try
are “The Bird,” Lemon Leaf, Cassiopeia, ‘Santa Maria’ in the Kruezburg,
Roamers, Father Carpenter, and more. Lots of good food to be had here, and
I just wanted to list some that I had written down for anyone going in the future!
One last walk along the river our final night ^^
…Then it was off the next morning to Prague by train!
Berlin and all its history gave us a major dose of gratitude for what we have,
as well as for the people who went through those hard times. It is a tough city
and a memorable place to visit. It was a great stop to do with Chase’s fam!