The next city on our agenda was Berlin. It was incredible. Such a fascinating mix of old and new, and so many reminders of Berlin’s dark recent past built into the cityscape.
On Berlin’s Museum Island, a beautiful grassy park space that holds some of Berlin’s most famous museums and collections. They have Nefertiti’s bust, the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate, Schliemann’s Troy atrifacts, and tons more. The only strange thing was that it was kind of hard to tell what was real and what was just a reconstruction, or what parts of a reconstruction were real, etc. Maybe it got lost in translation but I was never in a museum where I was so unsure about the legitimacy of what I was seeing. This was kind of a recurring theme throughout Berlin. With all of the destruction that came with WWII many of the historic buildings that even managed to survive the bombings were damaged to some degree. Still, an awesome ancient collection.
The Holocaust Memorial
Charlottenburg. You never realize how many palaces there are until you go to Europe! This was very badly damaged in WWII (like, decimated) but they chose to reconstruct it and bring it back to its past grandeur.
The East Side Gallery is this great stretch of the Berlin Wall that was painted by artists and was kept up as a reminder of Berlin’s past struggles.
We grabbed dinner one night inside the Sony Center, this modern, futuristic city park in downtown Berlin.
I decided to try Berlin’s favorite fast food, currywurst. It’s a fried sausage dipped in curry power sauce. That was one culinary adventure that did not pay off. I think I’ll stick to a cheeseburger.
The Topography of Terror Exhibit is located at the old headquarters of the Gestapo and SS. It traces the rise and fall of Nazi Germany.
Checkpoint Charlie, a delightfully tourist-y reconstruction of the original dividing point between US and USSR in Berlin. You can see a McDonald’s on what was the American side. Obviously a symbol of why the West won out 🙂
Berlin was really lovely. And everyone was so beautiful! (I think this is a requirement of every European city, but still, Berliners were especially attractive.) I think Mark Twain said that Berlin was the newest European city he’d seen, and he really could have been talking about 21st century Berlin instead of 19th century Berlin. In a lot of ways you’re constantly reminded of Berlin’s past mistakes, evidenced by prominent memorials to Holocaust victims and Russian soldiers, museums detailing Nazi brutality, and the leftover remains of the Berlin Wall. But at the same time its a beautiful, thriving modern city, with some of the best collections of art and archeology in the world and a rich history going back to the times of kings and queens. It was really incredible to be walking among all this history, and ultimately I loved Berlin, much more than I anticipated I would.