‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ as Kennedy famously said. And no, he did not mean that he was a jelly doughnut (context, here.)
And as you must have guessed, the next place I’m taking you to is Berlin. Berlin is famous for being a lot of things. The capital of Germany, the place of the Berlin Wall (well, duh) and the nightlife capital of Europe. However, if you expect this post to be an extensive write-up on the various clubs of this city, you’ve come to the wrong place. Family vacation, remember? But you can keep your worries at bay for I will take you through the various other sights this city has to offer. And trust me, they don’t disappoint.
Getting to Berlin from Copenhagen was quite the experience in itself.Our Eurail pass couldn’t quite serve its purpose because of the lack of trains plying that route for the next few months. So instead of flying to the German capital, we decided to take a look at the highways of Europe and took a bus ride all the way to the city. And it was completely worth it. The roads were flanked with beautiful green patches and windmills on each side. But I guess that’s just how most of the European countryside looks. The high-point of this journey was definitely when the bus parked itself on the vast ferry for crossing into Germany and you stepped out to see the sea from the portholes.
Now, I’m going to let Berlin introduce itself to you because pictures are worth a thousand words. Do take in its views
Now that you have a fair idea of this city’s beauty, I’m going to go ahead and talk about some of its various sights. Also, for when you’re in Berlin, a super fun way to get to know the city is by taking a Segway tour. It’s a very different experience as compared to the usual hop-on hop-off buses. With a little balance, it’s really easy to get hang of and you’ll definitely want to come back for more. Moving on. Walking through Pariser Platz, with the American and French embassies surrounding you, you will arrive at Berlin’s most famous attraction, Brandenburg Gate. This used to be a gate and the main entrance point of the city. A fun fact? The statue on the Brandenburg Gate, known as the Quadriga, was seized by Napoleon in 1806 but brough back to Berlin by the Prussians in 1814. The head of the statue now is titled towards the French embassy, as if to say ‘ha ha’.
A little further from the Brandenburg gate, you will arrive at what looks like an ordinary parking lot. But, it used to be anything but that. That parking lot used to be Hitler’s Bunker. It’s the very place Hitler and his newly wedded wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide by consuming cyanide. The bunker has been completely destroyed and only a sign remains to mark its presence. The reason for doing so was to prevent the establishment of the bunker as a place of worship in case of a neo-nazi uprising.
Checkpoint Charlie is well-known as a point of crossing between East and West Berlin. Charlie stands for nothing but the letter ‘C’ as in the NATO phonetic alphabet. It is a symbol of the Cold War, representing the division of the East and West and remained so until German reunification.
And of course, as we approach Potsdamer Platz, we can see the only remains of the Berlin Wall. The history of this wall is well known. Throughout its existence, the wall has evolved from a wire-fence to a proper wall will reinforced concrete. The presence of the wall is still marked around the city by a path cobbled stones.
Potsdamer Pltaz is now a centre of entertainment and culture with a number of attractions such as the Sony Centre located there.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews or the Holocaust Memorial is a monument which at first glance, looks like tombstones. It was built in memory of all the Jews who died during the Holocaust. An interesting story to note is that the company which supplied the gas used to kill the Jews was the same company that supplied the anti-graffiti coating for the monument. Read the story here.
An attraction nearly as famous as Berlin itself would be the TV tower, which gives a 360 degree view of the city and most of its attractions from a height of over 200 meters!
And of course, one cannot go to Germany and not have Curry Wurst. Curry Wurst and the shops at Alexander Platz are worth an afternoon alone.
Berlin has a lot of offer historically but still remains quite modern. You could walk down a street dotted with buildings which look like they were built in the 17th century, when you’d suddenly come across a modern structure. However, it doesn’t seem all that out of place. And that’s probably because Berlin is a city “destined to becoming and never being”. No, I’m not making that up. It’s something any Berliner will tell you. It is a city that is always transforming, where change is the only constant.
Berlin, I’ll be back.