I saw a lot even though I was only in Berlin for one day. To sum up my trip, here is what you can expect on your next trip to Berlin based on my observations:
1. People eat everywhere and all the time. It must be because everyone is really busy and they don’t have time to sit down for a normal meal. I saw a woman holding a carrot and getting onto the U-Bahn!
2. I never expected Berlin to have so many fast food restaurants- McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, KFC…. I expected to see more high class restaurants.. Maybe I was just walking in all the wrong places..
3. Germans don’t really care if you’re a tourist or not. They just walk on and continue doing what they were doing until you interrupted them. I think it’s a good characteristic from a tourist’s perspective. I hate it when I’m in a different country or city and everyone keeps staring when I’m taking pictures in front of weird monuments.. In Germany I actually felt like a local.. (Many people stopped me to ask for directions!)
Reichstag- old photo effect
4. Germans are very proud of who they are and they love their country very much. But I think it’s pretty easy to integrate into their lifestyle. Overall, Germans are very nice people and whenever I stopped and asked for help, everyone answered kindly and helpfully.
5. The transport system in Berlin is amazing!! You can get anywhere from anywhere. If you are planning on visiting Berlin soon, note, that you can book a hotel even as far as 10 km from the center of the city. With the S-Bahn and U-Bahn being so great, you will be at the Brandenburg Gate within minutes!
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Photos from trip to Berlin.
You might be wondering why there is no post about Checkpoint Charlie and Tiergarten. The reason- I had a one day time limit and I didn’t have enough time to see these. I was actually on my way to the Charlie Checkpoint, but…… I got lost. I’m embarrassed now. Oh well… I was going the right way, but then I missed the street which I had to turn at and.. that’s when I decided to just go to the Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery).
This post isn’t about how I got lost on my way to Charlie Checkpoint. It’s about an extraordinary bridge, that has an interesting history. It’s the OBERBAUMBRUCKE (Oberbaum Bridge).
It was built in the 1700s and at first was only a small wooden structure. The tiny bridge was modified in 1879 mainly to accommodate heavier traffic. It became the longest bridge in Berlin (154 meters). But because of the growing population, the bridge was still not big enough. Plans were made for a new bridge, which would accommodate pedestrians, road vehicles and the U-Bahn. The is how today’s double-decker oberbaumbrucke was born.
The U-Bahn crossed the bridge for the first time in 1902. Sadly, during WW2, the middle section of the bridge was blown up to stop the Red Army from crossing. It was restored and reopened in 1994.
Today, auto traffic speeds across the lower section of the bridge while the U-Bahn line (U1) zooms over the upper level.
Isn’t that some interesting history? It is also important to note, that after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the bridge came to represent the reunification of Germany.
One of the top attractions has got to be the Berlin Wall and the best place to see it is the East Side Gallery. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Wall located on Mühlenstraße. I walked along a small section of the wall, and I’m tired of saying why- because of BAD WEATHER
East Side Gallery
The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. Two-thirds of the paintings are badly damaged by erosion, graffiti, and vandalism (tourists chipping parts of the wall off to bring home as souvenirs). One-third have been restored by a non-profit organization which started work in 2000. Please remember, that no one is allowed to paint on these walls because it is a monument on which professional artists paint.
One of the most well known paintings on the wall is “The Fraternal Kiss”. It is a painting of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev’s mouth-to-mouth kiss.
The Fraternal Kiss
I think everyone must visit this historical monument especially since the transportation system in Berlin is really good. You’ll get there in seconds! Besides that, the Berlin Wall is the key to the history of Berlin and all of Germany. It’s definitely worth a visit!!
Other places to see remains of the Berlin Wall: Zimmerstrasse, Niederkirchner Strasse, Bernauer Strasse.
More photos HERE!!
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KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH
Built between 1891 and 1985, this church was a symbol of Prussian unity. It had burned down after it was hit by an allied bomb (November 18, 1943) and only the broken west tower of the church was still standing. The top was completely damaged. Looking at old and new photos, it’s hard to say, that the same church stands today. Inside the remaining west tower is a Memorial hall. It documents the history of the church as well as photos from before and after the bombing.
It is really easy to reach the church, unfortunately I was walking in circles because I could not see it. I went inside a souvenir shop to ask where the church is, because I knew it was somewhere near. The woman told me, that the church was undergoing renovation and that is the reason I could not see it. Wow, what a surprise! More renovation!! I as really disappointed. Since I couldn’t change anything, I decided that I seriously have to come again to Berlin when the weather would be better and not so much renovation would be happening.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is located on the Kurfurstendamm- the main shopping street in Berlin. This avenue has a very interesting history. Otto von Bismarmarck suggested that the Kurfurstendamm be formed into a boulevard with large houses and plenty of trees. The boulevard was widened and the construction of the most prestigious addresses began. Unfortunately, more than half of the magnificent structures along the Kurfurstendamm were completely destroyed or suffered significant damage during WW2.
If you want to get a look of the street’s original architecture, head to address no.59/69. The structure is known as Iduna-Haus.
From my previous posts you already know, that I visited 2 Starbucks cafes. Since the 3rd was on the Kurfurstendamm and I happened to be there, I decided to get the delicious cookie I had at the Starbucks on Alexanderplatz. Sadly, the delicious chocolate chip cookies were all gone… In general, this Starbucks was pretty small…
Wow, the dome was marvelous.. You can’t tell, that more than 70 years ago it was set on fire by the nazis and then hit during an aerial bombardment. The entrance to the dome costs 1 euro. The synagogue also houses a museum, an archive, classrooms, administrative offices. If you want to learn more about the building, visit the museum which is on the ground floor. The cost is 3,50 euros (full price). Note, that the museum does not work on Saturdays.
When visiting the synagogue, men are required to wear a head covering. Women can, but they don’t have to.
In the 1920s and 1930s this was the busiest and one of the most liveliest squares in Europe. More than 90 years later, it is still busy and lively. The Sony center is a very modern addition to the square. You can find anything there- stores,IMAX theater, condominiums, restaurants, Dunkin’ donuts… I actually saw many Dunkin’ Donuts in Berlin… Right across from the Sony center is the Ritz Carlton hotel. That adds even more glamour.
The Sony center is located right next to the Potsdamer Platz railway station. When you come up to the surface, right away, you will see remains of the Berlin wall. So if you don’t feel like going to the East Side Gallery, you can see many remains of the wall all over Berlin.
Remains of the Berlin wall
On the other side of the Ritz Carlton hotel (same building), you can enter the Panoramapunkt. In 20 seconds you can be on the viewing platform and enjoy breathtaking views of Berlin. In the same building you can enjoy coffee in the Panorama Cafe and sun terrace and an exhibition about the history of Potsdamer Platz.
More photos HERE!
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It started raining while I was still at the top of the Berlin Cathedral dome. I had known this would happen, so I had my umbrella with me. To hide a little from the rain, on my way to Alexanderplatz, I went inside the Radisson Blu Hotel. If my brother wouldn’t have told me, I wouldn’t have known, that here I can see a huge fish tank! It’s magnificent! You can even ride an elevator inside the AquaDom which is available after buying a ticket to the AquaDom & Sea Life, which is right next door to the hotel. Here you can see more than 5000 creatures, walk through Neptun’s mirror maze and more!
After having had admired the incredible fish tank, I again headed towards Alexanderplatz. My eye caught sight of a souvenir shop, so I had to check it out. Here I found the cheapest magnets (2,95 euros). All other souvenir shops had magnets costing from 3,00 to about 4,50 euros.
St. Mary’s Church
Finally I reached Alexanderplatz. And it was pouring!!! I didn’t take many photographs because of that. I went inside the TV tower to see the inside of it. There was no point in visiting the viewing platform because it was raining and really cloudy. I wouldn’t have seen anything!!
At Alexanderplatz, you can also see the St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche) and Neptune’s fountain. Along with the St. Nicholas’ Church, Marienkirche is the oldest church in Berlin. I accidentally took a photo of this church looking like the TV tower viewing platform is on top of the church! Neptune’s fountain is pretty amazing as well. The Roman god Neptune is in the center and the four women that surround him represent the four main rivers of Prussia: Elbe, Rhine, Vistula and Oder.
On the other side of the TV tower, facing the Alexanderplatz railway station, is Starbucks coffee. I had the best cookie there!! I wanted to buy another one, but I thought it would be more fun to buy the cookie at a different Starbucks.
More photos HERE!!
Having seen so many interesting monuments already, the best was yet to come! But first I must cross the schlossbrücke (palace bridge).
SCHLOSSBRUCKE (PALACE BRIDGE)
It is somewhat like Ponte Sant’ Angelo in Rome because of the statues atop the pillars. But this bridge has its own story like any other.
The eight different sculptures were created by eight different sculptors. The sculptures show the development of a hero from early youth to manhood, and then to death on the battlefield and the taking of his body to Olympus. It is much more fun to walk along this bridge when you know the meaning of the statues.
This was my favorite attraction of Berlin! I have never seen such a big and remarkable cathedral! It just took my breath away! I like that the cathedral is on the museum island which, when at the top of the dome, gives great views of the river Spree and the museums.
It costs 4 euros for students to visit the cathedral. Before leaving for Berlin, I checked online, that with my ISIC (international student identity card), it would cost me only 2 euros. Unfortunately, the ticket seller didn’t understand what I was telling her (or she didn’t want to understand) and I ended up paying 4 euros. The funny part is that at first she told me to pay 7 euros (full price). Come on! I look like a student!! I told her I was a student and then she told me to pay 4 euros. Always find out what the ticket prices are. Or you may end up overpaying. At least the view was worth it… But the climb to the top (270 steps) was a bit hard. The stairs were really narrow and I was scared at times, that they might break! At least I don’t have to go to the gym for a whole month now!!
More photos HERE!!