Friday 5 June
Unbeknownst to us, the UEFA Champions League Final
is being held at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday night between powerhouse clubs Juventus and Barcelona. Surprisingly this is the first time they have met in the final. So when we got to the Brandenburg Gate today we discovered the area had been cordoned off into a special zone for celebrations etc. You can still walk through but views of the gate have been severely impeded. No matter anyway as when I turned the camera on the battery was flat – I must have forgotten to turn it off after downloading photos yesterday.
So we had a slight change of plan in that we went our separate ways straight away and we’ll do the sights we were going to do together tomorrow or Sunday. Heather headed off to the “Topography of Terror” and Checkpoint Charlie which she enjoyed very much. I’ll provide more of a report on those when I have visited them.
Zachary and I went for a walk through the large gardens, finding a playground, and eventually ending up at the Aquarium. It is next to the Zoo but I decided we would just do the Aquarium today. It was very good with a large area of insects / arachnids and another of amphibians as well as the fish. We saw some creatures we hadn’t seen before and we both enjoyed this very much. From there we walked around the corner and then caught a bus, planning to get off at the Brandenburg Gate and then walk down to the Legoland Discovery Centre. However it was now extremely busy around that area and as the bus was not really moving we got off one stop early to avoid the crowds a bit! The Centre was rather expensive - €16 each regardless of age, but we went in anyway. The first part of it was definitely the best as they had created a miniature of Berlin (all out of Lego of course). It had working parts (trains, cranes etc) and buttons you could push to make things work. The most entertaining bit was where they had the section of the Berlin Wall by the Brandenburg Gate. When you pushed a button the crowd started chanting and the middle section of the wall collapsed. Then a spotlight came on to the cherry-picker parked there and standing on it was none other than the mighty David Hasselhoff. Now, many of you may not be aware that The Hoff is a HUGE music star in Germany. His song “Looking For Freedom” became the anthem of the fall of the Wall. He still performs it today and if you want to treat yourself, you can watch him performing it at the Brandenburg Gate just a few months ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DlBpTHSZr0
I like to both educate and entertain in my blogs so I’ll give you some interesting info here. It is hard for us to conceive how unbelievably popular The Hoff is in Germany. Add together the popularity of the Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and U2 in the rest of the Western World and multiply that by 250 and you’ll be getting the idea. When the Wall came crashing down in 1989 what better man to capture the mood of the nation? There was serious talk of adopting “Looking For Freedom” as the new national anthem of newly unified Germany. Chancellor Helmut Kohl had considered retiring in 1994 and reportedly asked his aides to approach The Hoff about taking on the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union and consequently the Chancellorship. However The Hoff apparently misunderstood the aide, thinking he was asking him about the Christian Temperance Union, and as a man who enjoys a Jack Daniels now and then, he had to decline.
You may also be interested to know that in 1990, after the reunification treaty was approved, the government passed a law making it compulsory for all German citizens to own a copy of “Looking For Freedom”. Squads of heavily armed police were sent door-to-door to check that the law was being obeyed and it is estimated up to 650,000 citizens were taken away for questioning and approximately one-third of those have never been seen again.
A search of German birth records show that, between mid 1990 and the end of 1991, 82%!o(MISSING)f all boys and 86%!o(MISSING)f all girls were named David. Further research by a PhD student in 1997 concluded that in the first half of the 1990s, 93%!o(MISSING)f all German babies were conceived while a CD or cassette tape of The Hoff was playing in the background. There are currently 106 life-sized Hoff statues in German towns and cities and the German government is lobbying hard for The Hoff to appear on the 200 Euro note to be issued in 2017. There was a bit of amusement a few weeks ago apparently when Chancellor Angela Merkel, appearing on a hard-hitting current affairs show, didn’t realise the cameras were still on and she was shown doing her best Hoff impersonation, belting out “Looking For Freedom” while playing a wicked air guitar.
Anyway, enough of that. The rest of the Legoland Discovery Centre paled by comparison. There were some cool creations, especially of Star Wars characters and Hagrid the Giant from the “Harry Potter” series. There were also a couple of small play areas and some areas where children could build. Towards the end we went on a ride which involved us sitting in a “dragon” and travelling through a cave. As we went around there were various life-sized Lego characters. It was pretty cool but Zachary found it a bit dark and scary.
That was enough for the day. Coincidentally we ended up on the same tram back as Heather and after I cooked dinner Heather headed for the laundromat which is not far from here. There is a washing machine here but no dryer – the owner was supposed to drop off an airing rack today but didn’t so easier to do it all together in one place. After travel and accommodation, laundry is becoming our biggest expense (closely followed by ice cream and alcohol!)
Sorry about the no pictures but I will post another blog in 2 days with some.
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