Published: September 20th 2007September 20th 2007
We really have a fair amount of things to catch up on even though it only has been one week today traveling around Germany. We have seen some wonderful and not so wonderful things along the way.
I'll start back in Hamburg where we first started and getting off the plane, jumping in a bus in the middle of no where and turning out onto a dirt road with the trees brushing the side of bus, I thought we were in the wrong country. Of course we were on the cheapest flight we could get and it was about 1 1/2 hours to the city from there!
We arrived in Hamburg pretty early in the morning so set about meeting up with our couchsurfing host for the next couple of nights. We got the underground train system to her place (trains are brilliant over here) and dropped our gear off and went back into the city to do some exploring. We hopped on a boat cruise to see what the city was all about and it really is mostly a cargo shipping port and has been the same for the last couple hundred years as we found out. It has the
second largest port in all of Europe so the traffic was very heavy up the river and the cargo ships were just huge. That took up most of the day so just went back to our hosts place and relaxed there for the night.
We were planning to do the tourist things the next day but there is not to much to do in Hamburg. There is the St Mitchells tower and has great views over looking the city but it is all fairly new, well from the WW2, so the old building have all been lost. A little about the war here.... Was very heavily bombed and 80% of the city was totally destroyed. One air raid involved 700 planes and killed 50,000 in one night and left 1.5 million homeless. So the city has completely changed since then except for the shipping yard and that has been the same for a few centuries now. We went and had a look at a museum down among the old cargo sheds and that was very interesting. Had some great photos of all the old buildings before they were destroyed and some great stories. The afternoon we just walked around the
city centre and looked around for a while before going back for tea which was very interesting. We decided to try out some traditional German food and I didn't realise that it would be matjes (raw fish) and raw mince involved! Of course there was the sausages and other things but didn't realise that raw fish was on the menu, maybe just Northern Germany near the coast but actually it was all bloody nice exp the mince with all the spices and herbs on top made it fantastic. So thats the food done for Germany.....
Next we were off to Berlin for a couple of nights but ended up staying for three because it is just a fantastic city! I could ramble on for ages about this place but will TRY and make it short... First day, arrived there in the afternoon from the 5 hour bus trip and was dropped off on the opposite side of the city from where we were staying so walked around in circles for a couple of hours before making it to the city centre. We then spotted an old church so went and had a geezer and we found out that most of
One of the bands we watched
it was missing from the war air raids and the remaining part had bullet and shrapnel holes all over the place, I just never really imagined we would be seeing that stuff I guess. Next we walked to Reichstag (Goverment building) and it is free to enter for views over the city but the line was massive so we gave in and headed to our hosts for a quiet night. Next day we were up early to do a walking tour of the city and was great fun. It started at the Brandenburg Gate (see pics) and this is the last remaining gate of 14 that used to be around the city where everyone had to arrive though to pay their taxes on the goods they were bringing to and from the city. This one was the only one the royalty came through though and the monument on top has even caused a war over the years as well with the French. Next on the tour we went past the Holocaust Memorial for all the Jews that were killed during the war, the whole 6 million or so and there is 2711 slabs there all of different sizes. Once in
Really what this city is all about
the middle it was very easy to get lost but it was quite interesting and had a very strange vibe walking through after the tour leader said some stories about it all. After this was to Hitlers Bunker where he finally killed himself with a bullet to the head but he also swallowed a pill to make sure he did it properly. I didn't realise that he got married 24 hours before he shot himself and also he wanted his body to be fully burnt so he couldn't be paraded around the city, but they were half way through the job when the USSR found him and buried his body in the east of Germany but didn't tell anyone for quite some time later since they made up rumours that he had been spotted here and there so they could stay in the country and ' look for him' but really take over the place. Next was to the Berlin Wall well what was remaining of it. I have some great stories about this but will take up way to much time, but that was where East and West were separated and in the end it was a complete mistake
New buildings along the river
that it was taken down. A speaker for the government said something wrong in front of the world audience and the next day the wall was gone pretty much but was never supposed to be taken down, not yet anyway. Charlie's Checkpoint was next where WW3 nearly started between the world super powers (again photos) then it was to where the book burning was, 24,000 books were destroyed in a single night by the Nazis, the books by a writer who was a Jew, Black, a member of a different government or against there regime. Now that is a lot of books gone in one single night and there is a great monument there for that but it was underground so couldn't take a photo.
Well that was the main things of the tour but there was heaps more we visited and went for about 4 1/2 hours I think and it is completely free!! They are uni students doing those tours and we did the same one in London but they go off tips which is a great idea.
In the afternoon we went back to the Government building for the views of the city, also free, but the
St Mitchells Tower
line was terrible that was the only problem. A little story about this place.... When Hitler was second in charge one night the Government building was set on fire and burnt to the ground and they say that a Dutch guy was running around saying he had lit the fire and was chanting something about religion, I cant remember. Anyway it was exactly what Hitler wanted to hear so he rang up the then President who was in his 80's at the time and he already been through wars and all the history and didn't need this, Hitler told him that this is the rising of the enemy and look at what they have done and what they can do, give me the power but only for a short amount of time and I'll gather up our army and I'll crush them. All this commotion to the old guy and his story was just to much so he just gave all the power to Hitler to sort them out but only for a short time but that documents went missing over time... Also it was later discovered that the fire was started in five places at the same time so
St Mitchells Tower
how could one man do all that???
Getting close to the end now....
Our last and extra day in Berlin was the creepiest by far for me. We went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp for a few hours. It was really not the best feeling walking around that place and seeing where the prisoners of war were kept and finding out what happened to some of them, well probably most of them. Over 100,000 people were murdered here and that is what they pretty much happened, murder. Even on the tour they say this and the way it was done to some of them was very bad. Just trying to imagine what it could have been like, walking around the dorms designed for 200 men but 400 would be cramped into there starving and in the morning they had 40 minutes to wash, tidy and eat then be out the front for roll call. The two worst things for me to take in were, firstly they gathered 10 children and back then they didn't know a cure for gang green for the fighters of the front line, so what they did was cut open their arm and on some straw would
be trace of gang green and they would actually sew that into their arm and watch them to see what are the symptoms are on different parts of the body. Next was the mass graves and it was really bad. They weren't of bodies though it was of the ash left from the body's. They tried to hide what was happening so buried all the ash and it was later found out that they had up to a tonne of ash sitting there with no where to put it so what they did was seal the road with it. That was way to much for me then and I could not just imagine how it must have been back then..
Enough of that now.. later on that night we went to a international concert in a old brewery and had a great time there. There were bands from all corners of the world and that was the main reason for us staying the extra night and had a great time. So that was our time in Berlin and could have easily have stayed for longer in that city. It was a great place but really ugly though still heaps of
fun to be had there.
We are nearly up to where we are now..... In the following morning we got a lift to Frankfurt by this car pull site on the net. What it is people who are traveling from one city to another put a message on this site asking if anyone else needs a lift there and we just chuck in some money for fuel and away we go! Saves heaps on travel which is the main expense by far for us so it is really good. So yesterday was spent walking around Frankfurt and this place was really dead but it was Sunday though so that's probably why. We walked along the River Mile there and went to the Kaiserdom Cathedral (more pics) before going to our hosts for the night. We didn't really get to see much of the city but it looked really modern when we were arriving not like the other two we have already been in.
Today we have left Frankfurt and headed to Mainz on the River Rhine and we are staying here for a couple of nights before going to Munich. Just before we went for a walk around the city
View from St Mitchells Tower
with our hosts at night and it is our favourite place by far and only been here 5 hours now! It really has the old feel about this place but I have photos next time for this place I'm sure. Tomorrow we are on a river cruise and have the wine in the fridge all ready for a picnic (if it is not pouring with rain). I cant believe it, as I'm sure the rest of my family, that I'm starting to enjoy a drop of wine now! We had a white with tea and it was great! And the other night was a red, I have know idea whats going on!!!
I think that is well and truly enough for now, properly hardly makes any sense but anyway.. Also we would like to thank the hosts that we have stayed with throughout Germany, they have been fantastic to us!!
Actually I wrote all this two days ago now so will be doing another update soon... And one last thing, I'm going to OCTOBERFEST in two days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are more photos below