Following a very chilled first day, it was time to do a typical sightseeing tour of Berlin. Our first stop was probably the most famous sight in Berlin after the Berlin wall, the Brandenburg Gate. The gate originally led to the royal city palace of the Prussian monarchs, but unfortunately for us we couldn’t even walk under it as it was blocked off. We think this was because of the football that was being shown as the Euro’s were playing, but we couldn’t be sure. It was typical of our luck not to be able to get a clear shot of the famous sight! Just outside the Brandenburg Gate was the American Embassy. The day before we visited, there was a shooting in Orlando which killed 49 people so people had come to lay flowers and sign a condolence book. It’s tragic how crimes like this touch the whole world.
Without dwelling on it for too long, we made our way to the next sight, the meeting place of the German Parliament; the Reichstag Building. It was once severely damaged after it was set on fire, and fell into disuse after World War 2, but after years of refurbishment and reconstruction it began to be used again in 1999. The highlight of the building was the glass dome at the top, which had we have gone up it, would have given us 360 degree views across Berlin. However, you do have to book the tour to the top of the dome in advance and we just didn’t get around to it. The queue was huge so we just looked at the dome from afar.
Next up on our sightseeing tour of Berlin was The Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews. The memorial is made up of 2711 rectangle shaped slabs in various heights and as we wondered amongst them all it was eerily quiet.
Ironically, just round the corner form the memorial was the Fuhrerbunker, otherwise known as Hitler’s Bunker. I say that, but it was actually just a plaque. The bunker itself was underground and a carpark had been built on top of it. There wasn’t a lot to see, but the plaque did have a map of the bunker and it was here that Hitler killed himself.
Having now been walking around Berlin for a couple of hours, we found ourselves at Berlin’s equivalent of Times Square, Potsdamer Platz. It wasn’t quite the same as the experience we had when we visited Times Square in NYC. It didn’t have all the giant advertisements and the neon lights but it did have some interestingly shaped glass buildings and even some left over segments of the Berlin Wall. You see when the Berlin Wall was still intact, it cut right through the centre of Potsdamer Platz, so the leftover pieces were positioned in the exact places they would’ve been when the wall was still intact.
We continued our walk onto Checkpoint Charlie, which was a crossing point along the Berlin Wall. It was all decked out in the same way it would’ve been back in the 60’s. It even had some guys dressed up as guards which you could pose with. It was a popular tourist attraction and there were a lot of people crowding round, which was a bit dodgy given that the checkpoint was situated in the middle of a busy road. We waited for the crowds to disperse before taking a few snaps.
Feeling a bit peckish, we opted to have a quick snack in KFC. I know it’s not traditional German food by any means, but we did queue at a German fastfood snack stand, but it was so slow we gave up. We were just far too hungry!
Our last stop on our little walking tour was Gendarmenmarkt. Berlin has so many old and beautiful buildings, that you just can’t help but look up and around you all the time at them. But those at Gendarmenmarkt were without a doubt my favourite buildings. At either end of the square is a church, one French (Franzosischer Dom) and one German (Deutscher Dom). The beauty is that they are identical and a mirror image of each other. In between them both is a fountain and the Konzerthaus (concert hall). The churches were built in the early 1700’s and the concert hall in the 1821 but like a lot of buildings in Berlin, there were all damaged during the war. They have since been restored and looking at them now you wouldn’t know any different.
Having spent the entire day walking round Berlin, our feet were tired and so were we. We headed back to our hotel for a little rest before venturing out for dinner. This time we were going to have a home cooked meal. Barry’s friend Dave moved out to Berlin a few years ago, so it was only right that we paid him a visit. Not wanting to arrive empty handed, we thought we’d buy the dessert so we found a local Lidl and picked up an apple pie, we just needed some cream to go with it. We made our way to the dairy section, but what we found we couldn’t decipher. We saw pots that looked like they were cream but who knew what they actually were? We tried to google translate it and thought we sussed it, so we purchased the pie along with two tubs of what we thought were cream.
When we arrived at Dave’s, we handed over our gift and he laughed! It wasn’t actually cream we’d bought, but something that you had to mix with something else to make cream. Well, at least we were half way there!
Dave cooked us a delicious three course meal of jerk chicken and homemade muffins. Good job he wasn’t relying on the apple pie and cream!