The trip from Amsterdam to Berlin, via train, took about 6 hours in all, given the many stops during the first leg and a 30 minute layover. I sat next to someone during the first leg who was entertaining – from Egypt and hoping to relocate (if he can convince his wife) to move to Dubai. Made the time pass quickly. Took a picture of the German countryside. Still surprises me (in a good way) that what I’ve seen so far are many individual farms. Saw a lot of corn ready for harvest.
German countryside at 200 KPM
Train Schedule Showing Train Outlines
The above picture shows the trains that are scheduled to arrive in the station with the configuration of each train. People are given a ticket with the coach number, so they know where to stand when the train arrives.
Got into Berlin a little after 7:00 p.m. and headed for hotel, the Titanic. The hotel is part of a chain run by a Swiss company. Very modern! The room needed a user’s manual! I asked for an inside room so I could get a good night’s sleep. (I’m finding that moving around and site seeing takes a lot of energy. Getting good sleep is a bonus!)
The next morning (yesterday), I met up with my Airbnb host and toured my new flat for the next 4 nights. Wow! The building was built in 2014 and everything was new, spacious, and conveniently located. Once you close the widows … silence.
Flat in Berlin, Next to Spree River
After unpacking, I headed over to the Reichstag (home of the Imperial Diet of the German Empire).
On the way, I saw the results of new buildings recently built in the area of the Reichstag along the river. I’ll walk this route again.
I’ll have to wait until another time to tour the dome of the Reichstag since there are no tickets until later in August. Check out the building’s history when time permits. Now that Germany is unified, the building once again is where government (Bundestag) meets.
In the picture above, you can barely seem the dome. Must visit the dome next time I’m in Berlin.
Next stop: Bradenburg Gate, very close to the Reichstag. On my way there, I was looking forward to seeing this piece of history. This structure has been a focal point in pictures of pre-WWII and during the reconciliation of Germany. It has stood and endured so much in its history.
I approached the Brandenburg Gate from the West. I knew that because the quadriga at the top faces to the East.
The gate was not refurbished much after the war and sat in the middle of East and West Berlin for many years. In the last 20 or so year, restoration has begun. You can see the marks of war on the columns, which I guess is how it should be.
Bandenburg Gate Column with Marks of War
On the east side of the gate, there is a large plaza where I have pictures of the east view of the gate.
Brandenburg East View
I was thinking about all of the events from the past that happened through and around this structure. How this symbol of Germany has represented so much for the German people and the students of history. I’ll visit again before I leave. So much to take in at once.
Speaking of domes, the next was a visit to the Berlin Dome also known as the Berlin Cathedral (short names for the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church). It is somewhat like St. Paul’s in London, and highly regarded by the Berlin people.
Berlin Dome (Cathedral)
Still had to do my grocery shopping. Had a good time finding basic supplies for the kitchen in the new flat. Warm day, and with the running around, I settled on cold cuts and bread. Also saw some of the Olympics later on TV.
Next day, my first stop was Checkpoint Charlie. Had no expectations what I’d find. Easy walk up Friedrichstrasse from my flat – and there it was! The block before the site, there was a storyboard which told the history of the site and of the Berlin Wall. Some I knew, some I didn’t. When I got to the end of the storyboard and faced the site, I was overcome by deep sadness. The Berlin Wall which divided a city, citizens, friends, and family and this is the lone point where access could be granted. A sad cloud hung over this city for many years. I decided not to visit the museum of Checkpoint Charlie or the Berlin Wall until I could come to grips with what I was feeling.
Checkpoint Charlie Post
Checkpoint Charlie Sign
I did visit the DDR Museum (next to Museum Island) which shows the daily life in East Germany (known in German as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). I wanted to get a sense of what the people in this country experienced – unknown to the western world.) My impression is that these people “made do” with what they had and hoped for a brighter future.
Speaking of the DDR, they built a lasting monument (between 1965 and 1969) that I visited next. The Fernsehturm de Berlin, or more commonly known as the Berlin TV Tower, is the second tallest structure in the EU. What is the first? The Shard in London – see my earlier post. I took a number of pictures from the observation deck. Really gives a perspective of this city. Below the tower is the oldest part of Berlin. I’ve marked a picture that shows the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstad. Think I got several pictures of the East, South, West and North views.
Fernsehturm de Berlin (Berlin TV Tower)
From the Observation Deck
Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag
From here, I walked back to my flat. Was reaching my limit of 6 hours of walking around and decided to head back along the river. Along the way I took a picture of one of the many tourist boats that run along the river and then . . . a very familiar plant.
River walk along the Spree
River Spree Tour Boat
Isn’t this Oregon Grape?
It is after 10:30 p.m. and will publish this post soon.
Haben Sie eine gute Nacht! (Have a good night.)
(My high school German is paying off.)