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Published: January 23rd 2018
German Reichstag building
The German parliament building aka the Reichstag building
A rainy weekend in Berlin
Last fall we went to Berlin for a weekend. Over the last year or so we have had some bad luck with the weather when we have made short trips to cities in Europe. It rained a lot in Vilnius in October in 2016
and it wasn't much better in Amsterdam in March 2017
. This weekend trip in Berlin completed a full triple of short trips to cities in Europe coinciding with bad weather. Fortunately we don't think it matters much that it rains when we visit cities. Often the things we plan to do can be enjoyed indoors or it is possible to do the sightseeing in between the rain showers. Rain or sunshine, we can have a great time no matter what.
We love the city Berlin and we have been there several times before. On this trip we decided to visit some lesser known attractions and possibly one or two which perhaps aren't attractions at all. If you visit the odd attractions you might bump into such diverse characters as David Hasselhoff, Rosa Parks and R2D2. How they fit in in this story we'll tell you later on.
But before we
It is one of those sites in Berlin which is hard to avoid.
get there we will start by doing the opposite to what Basil Fawlty instructed his staff in the Fawlty Towers episode The Germans
, we will
mention the war. It is difficult to avoid that subject when you are in Berlin.
On this trip one of the sights we planned to see was a memorial on Bebelplatz. The memorial is over the book burning which took place there in May 1933. The memorial consists of a subterranean library without books. The library is white and so are the empty bookshelves.
We also saw two other World War II related memorials. These two we didn't plan to visit but came across anyway. The first is a memorial over the Sinti and Roma who were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The memorial is a circular water pool. The second memorial is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
. It consists of more than 2,700 concrete blocks placed in a grid pattern.
Another Second World War related site we visited was a former air raid bunker. A company runs tours of this bunker several times a day. However, they do not allow anyone to take pictures during the tours
In Berlin there is a David Hasselhoff Museum. For you who don't know who David Hasselhoff is, he is an American actor who starred in the TV series Knight Rider and Baywatch.
and they have not given us permission to publish any of their own publicity photos so you won't see anything from the bunker in this blog entry. The only thing we can show you is a photo we took outside showing two small reinforced concrete shelters from the World War II era.
Another episode in German history which is difficult to avoid when you are in Berlin is the Cold War. Hard to avoid because during the Cold War Berlin was divided by the Berlin Wall and there are remains of that wall in several places in Berlin. The compulsory Berlin Wall photo we took one morning when we went for a run. In the photo you can see us running in between two walls. In most places the Berlin wall was double with a strip of open ground in between them. If you lived in East Berlin and wanted to escape to West you first had to climb one wall, then you had to cross the open ground and finally you had to scale the second wall. This gave the East German guards plenty of time to spot the escapees and prevent them from reaching the
Mural of David Hasselhoff with signature
Only a few months before we visited the museum David Hasselhoff himself was actually there. He obviously liked the museum because he signed several of the photos.
free world on the other side of the second wall. If we tell you that the open ground between the walls was called "Todesstreife", "Death Strip", we don't need to explain in detail how they prevented the escapees to reach the West, do we?
Enough of the dark episodes in German history. From here on we will keep to somewhat brighter topics.
In Berlin there is a David Hasselhoff Museum. For you who don't know who David Hasselhoff is, he is an American actor who starred in the TV series Knight Rider and Baywatch. The museum consists of some photos and some memorabilia. The museum is very small, free of charge and can be found in the basement of the Circus Hostel. Only a few months before we visited the museum David Hasselhoff himself was actually there. He obviously liked the museum because he signed several of the photos.
Another odd site we visited on this trip was Haus Schwarzenberg Street Art Alley. It is a short street where there is plenty of street art. Street art can be pretty fun. We have seen some pretty cool street art in Paris
Hasselhoff is German for awesome
and in London
on previous trips and decided to see the street art here as well. You decide yourself if it is good or not. We thought the R2D2 picture was pretty fun.
The final site we visited that we will mention here is a house in which the civil rights activist Rosa Parks used to live in. It wasn't her house, it belonged to a relative of hers, and she lived in it several years after the episode where she refused to leave her bus seat. When the house was scheduled for demolition a German asked if he could buy it. He bought it, dismantled it and reassembled it in Berlin where it stands today.
We hope you enjoyed reading this even though the things we saw perhaps weren't what you expected.
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