Drowning in history and gloomy weather
We flew to Berlin today. Berlin is way different from Munich. Munich is every much so the European mountain city you envision with pristine streets and beautiful buildings. Berlin is very much the city that has burned down so many times and had to build up with numerous influences. Berlin is not quite as clean or nice as Munich but it is rife with history and interesting stories. I learned so much about the history of this city that I was pretty oblivious and ignorant to.
The weather could not decide today if it was just going to be cloudy or cloudy and rainy. Thank goodness that I brought my LL bean boots.
We started the day with buying a Berlin Welcome card and museum island pass for 72h for 46 Euros. Then we headed to our hotel to abandon our luggage. We first actually explored the Alexa mall and I had MrcDonald's since I wasn't particularly hungry. I really wanted to try the rosti fries which are like soggy fried hash browns with a hint of onion ring flavor. It wasn't my favorite but kind of grew on me. I also ate chicken wings which actually were decent considering the source.
We then embarked on a 4.5 hour walking tour with Original Berlin tours. Aaron, our tour guide, was from England and no one else in our group was from the USA. So diverse here. We went to Alexanderplatz first and really the stark comparison you notice of here and Munich is the huge Soviet Union influence on East Berlin. The gloomy weather and dilapidated old school architecture left me feeling pretty meh. We continued on through Mitte and saw numerous buildings with a mix of Soviet Union and neo classical influences. We finally walked to Checkpoint Charlie which is this huge tourist trap. You can pay some people dressed up as US Army soldiers to take a picture at the replica of what the checkpoint looked like. Granted everywhere you look there is construction but on those walls is a ton of facts about the history of the Berlin Wall. Most of the wall has been destroyed but the city has placed a 2 brick pattern to represent where the wall used to be. It's pretty staggering and crazy to imagine living one night in one part of Berlin and not being able to go to your work on the other side the next night.
Neue Wache Memorial (powerful statue of a mother and her dead son by Käthe Kollwitz who did lose her son to war - the top opens so that the statue endures all weather)
bricks indicating where the wall was
Piece of the wall
We then continued on towards the Memorial of the European Jews, which was designed by a New Yorker. Our tour guide recommended walking diagonally through the artwork and you get submersed into these huge concrete walls. It gives you an overwhelming sense of envelopment and peacefulness while you get lost in the immensity of the concrete. I was very taken aback by the feeling the memorial leaves you with and Aaron talked about how the artist very much left this artwork up to interpretation to each individual person. I could see a person walking numerous times through this and feeling different each time. We then headed to the Brandenburg gate. It was GORGEOUS AND ORNATE. And very much so more awesome at night. Left me feeling very small and wishing California had more of this rich history. We headed back to the hotel to check in and then came back to the gate to head towards Reichstag Dome.
Brandenburg Gate (even prettier at night)
The Reichstag building has been reconstructed several times but this last construction included this awesome clear glass dome at the top of the ceiling meant to indicate a transparent government. I highly recommend visiting this because the views are amazing of the whole city and because the dome is really cool with a really helpful and informative audio tour. It was nice to admire the old and new architecture in the city from the encasing of a glass dome. It is however extremely crowded.
View of the Museum of cultures and the bell tower
overlooking the government
Us in the mirror
We then headed towards Mustafa's Kebap but the line was entirely too long and not mobile so we instead at another random Yorcke's kebap shop. The kebaps were cheap but just okay without a lot of meat. More importantly we invested in some bottled beers which were delicious. Thank you, German breweries for not disappointing. I was still hungry for some reason and since I binge eat in other countries, we headed straight to Curry 36. This was AMAZING AND DELICIOUS currywurst and even the pomme frites were delicious. Germans surprisingly make the most delicious ketchup and mayo. Possibly more delicious than Heinz. I devoured the snack. And we headed to a random Berlin bar near by for drinks to end the night. Bars in berling are nothing like the biergartens in Munich. It was very dark and very smokey with a romanticism to it. I think I actually prefer the rowdy gardens, but that may be the American in me.
BEST CURRYWURST EVER