Out and About: Berlin (days 2 and 3)
Nice breakfast to set us up for the day. We took the U-Bahn to the Brandenburg Tor to get a closer look and visit the tourist office nearby., Luckily we did, there was a jobs fair at the Olympic Park so we postponed our plans to visit until tomorrow.
From the Tor, we headed East from Pariser Platz down the magnificent main parade marveling at the magnificent buildings. The French and American Embassies have pride of place in the square but just around the corner nestles the British Embassy in a striking Modern building.
The buildings in the area are beautiful, not unlike historic London. What sets Berlin apart is the width of the roads which enables you to appreciate the buildings’ splendour. As you wander down Unter den Linden you can easily admire The Hotel Adlon, Libraries, The Academy of Arts, Churches, The Russian Embassy and Humboldt University.
Along the Unter den Linden is the Neue Wache (the new guardhouse), original a guardhouse for Prussian soldiers it s now the ‘central memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the victims of war and dictatorship’. It is empty inside except for a poignant solitary statue by Kathe Kollwitz called Mother with her Dead Son.
Just past the Neue Wache is an area called Museum Island where the River Spree splits briefly to form a natural island on which there are 5 hugely impressive museums. Although we didn’t venture inside, it was enough to wander beside them amazed at their majesty.
We did go into the Berliner Dome, Berlins’ majestic protestant Cathedral. As with most big city Cathedral it’s beauty was breathtaking. There was also plenty of room for exhibitions in the siderooms which were an added interest. Once again there was the option to climb to a ridiculous height which I declined to do but I was quite happy to wait while others did.
Lunch time! Apparently Curry Wurst is the thing to have in Berlin so we headed off to an outlet recommended by a friend and tried one. So a German Sausage and chips sprinkled with curry powder accompanied by LASHINGS of tomato ketchup. Not something I would usually choose, but it was satisfying and hit the spot.
Another beautiful walk from Museum Island along the River Spree. Fast falling in love with Berlin at this point.
We stopped at St. Nicholas’ Church in the Mitte district which is the oldest church in Berlin. Beautifully impressive it was lovely to rest for a while within its walls and contemplate all the lovely things we have seen over the last few days.
Our next plan was to take a trip to the top of the TV tower, but upon arriving we found it was very expensive and the queue was quite long so we decided against it, particularly as we had climbed the Siegessaule and experienced brilliant views the day before.
After a well deserved drink, we changed our plans and headed out on the S-Bahn to The East Side where there is a kilometre long piece of the wall that international artists had painted murals upon with political and ecological messages on making it the world’s longest open air gallery. Many of the paintings were fascinating but I would have liked more information, about the artists and the message that they were portraying. My other issue was that certain sections of the murals had been heavily vandalised with graffiti which was a crying shame.
Food time! We returned to the St. Nicholas’ Church as we had spotted an interesting restaurant there earlier. Luckily the lovely restaurant Zur Letzten Instanz (serving Berlin since 1621) had a table and we had a delicious Schniztel.
A second exhausting day. However satisfied that we had covered a long of ground we headed back to the hotel quite satisfied.
Due to fly our late afternoon we knew we had to be quite organised with our plans for today. Luckily we already had our tickets for the dome at the Reistag all booked so we headed there first. The sun was beating down (in March) and after the security checks we headed into the dome. View all over Berlin and beyond. Spectacular.
Then to the highlight of my son’s weekend (he is a keen swimmer) we headed to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Now used by the football team Hertha BSC the stadium still has the austere look of when it was built in the early 1930s to host the 1936 Olympics. The tale is quite well known that Hitler who was the leader was perturbed when Jesse Owens won many of the races.
We enjoyed mooching around the stadium a lot.
Back into the centre of Berlin for Lunch (a delicious pizza) after which we took the train back to the airport.
An exhausting weekend but fantastic fun and well worth going. I would love to return one day.
This trip has meant that I have been able to tick off one of my 101 challenges ‘Visit a foreign city not visited before’.