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Published: December 26th 2009
Berlin is great! I came away feeling really good about this city - a city that has welded itself together after being separated for so long by a big lump of concrete.
The Christmas markets definitely added to the magic of Berlin, and our hostel was located right opposite of of the big markets (City Stay hostel). With an ice skating rink in the middle, and plenty of gluwein to go round, it was all very festive. The food was also amazing! We ate dinner there every night, and there was so much variety. After small markets we'd seen in previous European cities, I was expecting hotdogs, but no, there was all sorts of fantastic fresh food such as pretzels, cheesy bread, goulash soup, roast ham and I could go on! I'd go back again at Christmas time for the festivities, it was good fun, and the gluwein has a good kick!
Obviously Berlin has a massive amount of history, pre war, second world war and then the Cold war! There is so much to see and do, I quite happily spent five nights there taking in what I could. I saw Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror
which depicts a lot of nasty stuff that happened in the street close by to Checkpoint charlie. Unfortunately the topography of terror is outdoors at the moment soon to be indoors, so we froze a bit on that morning! The Jewish Museum has an interesting architecture which was designed to represent the negative past, and positive future of the Jewish culture, with separate axis - an axis of holocaust, an axis of exile and an axis of continuity. It is cleverly designed and the best thing to do is see it for yourself as I am no architect critic. It's unusual for a building to be a part of the museum as much as the content.
I visited the courtyard where Von Staffenberg was killed after his failed plot to assassinate Hitler. In the museum inside, there was a fascinating exhibition both about the plot, and the thousands of people who resisted the Nationalist regime, and put their lives on the line for the cause. That is one I would definitely recommend visiting.
So many more...Brandenberg gate of course, the holocaust memorial, the site of Hitler's bunker - which he was in for at least a month before
his death so i gathered from the information board. The Reichstag dome provided me with a great view of the city, and bonus for a budget traveler like me...it's free! Aside from the cold queue it was a perfect free tourist thing to do! All around Berlin, where the wall used to be, there are lines of two cobble stones set in the road or pavement so it's location is still visible and you can look out for what used to be West and what used to be East Berlin.
I visited the Pergamom museum, and as much as I appreciate the value and history of the contents, ancient history is not as appealing to me. Thankfully an audio guide made it more comprehensible.
Berlin seems to have healed it's wounds well. It was clear from the art and the segments of wall on display for the 20th anniversary of the tearing down of the wall that the city was celebrating together and was proud of how far it had come, and how history would not be repeating itself. I think that solidarity as a city helps create the happy atmosphere the Berliners are proud of.
top rated city in my humble opinion,
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