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Published: July 22nd 2019
By the time we reached Berlin, my brothers had gone ahead down to Wittenberg - where Curt has been living and teaching for the past two years - and the heat was there to greet us. While we were in Berlin, it reached 102 degrees - not the hottest temp in Europe, but plenty hot for us. The day of our arrival, however, was marginally cooler, so we decided to take a walking tour to familiarize ourselves with a bit of the city and its history. There are many options for walking tours in major European cities, but I usually use Sandmans New Europe tours, and we did this time as well. Our guide Stephen was both knowledgable and funny, a good thing for a 3-hour walking tour. Much of Berlin having been destroyed during World War II, the majority of the historical buildings are no more or have been rebuilt in the years since. There are still glimpses of the city's past - like the building that was the headquarters for the Luftwaffe, then the headquarters and founding building for East Germany, and now continues as a tax ministry building - and it is also a city that acknowledges the
good and bad of its past - one stark reminder the Holocaust Memorial.
Our second day was the scorcher, so we made good use of the Berlin Metro - though it was crazy hot on their as well - and visited the Charlottenburg Palace gardens, the Holocaust Memorial, and the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. The Memorial is worth visiting. Above ground are stone blocks, but they do not sit straight and neither does the ground. We were told that this was based on the Jewish Cemetery in Prague - though the stone blocks are not meant to be tombs. Underground is an information center - providing the stories of Jewish families from across the continent, a room where the names of victims are read alternating between German and English, and a room containing videos of survivors speaking.
The largest section of the Berlin wall that still stands is now a mural - done by many different artists - and called the East Side Gallery. Certainly worth seeing, even in 100+ temps. On the far end of the wall from where we started, we ate at a cheap schnitzel place - Scheers Schnitzel - and then
returned to our apartment to get out of the heat.
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