Behind the Wall

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July 1st 2015
Published: September 13th 2015
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Hello my fellow travellers!

Well, I can't exactly claim to have been in tip top shape today, seeing as how I didn't sleep at all tonight. Between people slamming doors, talking loudly, having sex and Andreas snoring like a dinosaur with severe asthma I didn't manage to fall asleep. I did my best to keep up but I sure was tired today, I still feel like we managed to cover a lot of ground today though.

Our day started with a speedy breakfast together with our host Tim. He was going to a job interview though so he really just rushed down a few sandwiches and then he was off after providing us with a key. Since we had a key now we decided to take it a bit calmer and laid out a preliminary itinerary for our day, although in honesty we just decided to follow our eyes and see what we find interesting. We each had one point though that we rally wanted to see, for me it was the Brandenburg Gate and for Andreas the Berlin Wall. We began by setting our sights on Alexander Place in the centre of Berlin and we decided to make our way over there by foot, checking out our lovely neighbourhood on the way.

Already from quite some distance away we could see the Berlin TV Tower piercing the skyline. We later learned that we can go up in it but we didn't know that when we passed it, but we probably wouldn't have done so anyway because I think it was fairly expensive.

On the way there we first passed by the Ruins of the Franciscan Monastery which is a quite nice ruin dating from the 13th century. Today it actually still fills a function as a cultural place and you can find art exhibitions, music performances, live theatre and open readings here. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit the gates was closed so we looked as well as we could from the outside. Next we came to the Old City Hall, a quite impressive eighty metres tall building that was constructed between 1902 and 1911 to supplement the Red City Hall (located just across the street). Both of these buildings are currently used by the senate and the mayor of Berlin sits in the Red City Hall.

From the Red City Hall it's just a short stroll to the quite beautiful old Saint Mary's Church. It is built in the 13th century and is one of the oldest churches in Berlin. There seemed to be some kind of restoration of old murals going on here as well and much of the outside was sealed off so I couldn't get a look at the statue of Martin Luther standing outside, that was a bummer.

Between the church and the city hall is the Neptune Fountain, which is seriously cool and I got some nice pictures there while Andreas was on his phone. Next thing our eyes led us to was the Berlin Cathedral which is a really immense and a truly imposing figure on the skyline! After that we went to the Saint Nicholas' Church (passing the Marx-Engels Forum on the way). I was quite surprised to find that it didn't really feel like a church inside, more like a mix of a museum and a social gathering spot. I wasn't quite expecting that.

From here we moved across the river to the Friedrichswerder Church, the first Neo-Gothic church in Berlin, built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the 19th century. He's honoured with a statue on a small square nearby. We didn't go inside this church because there was a lot of constructions goin on nearby so we didn't really know how to approach it. Actually it kind of feels like the whole city is currently one big construction site!

We of course stopped for a while to admire all the beautiful statues on the Castle Bridge, or at least as well as we could through all the constructions going on there. As we kept going we also passed the Old Arsenal but it was also a construction ground at the moment so we couldn't get close to it. However, at least we were lucky enough that the New Guardhouse was still open. It was originally, as the name suggests, a guardhouse (specifically for the soldiers of the crown prince of Prussia) but since 1931 it's a War Memorial. It's not highly decorated but it's still a quite powerful place to visit. In it's unclad and simplistic nature it pays homage to the victims of war.

Passing by the statue of Frederick the Great we finally made our way to my main point of today's exploration, the Brandenburg Gate. I must admit that I actually felt a bit underwhelmed by it. I suppose I had my expectations a bit to high about this one. Sure it's nice and all and worth a visit, it is after all a landmark not only for Berlin but for Germany. But I've seen far more impressive examples out there. Still, I'm happy that I visited it.

We also popped in for a short while in the Great Animal Garden Park and sat down for a while, just relaxing for a moment and enjoying the fresh air and the shade. We didn't go very far inside it though, I understand it's one of the largest parks in Europe. Walking along the road we then came upon this weird large scale installation that we didn't really understand what it was, almost looked like a miniature city without any details on it. We later learned that it was the Holocaust Memorial and we decided to return later to take a closer look at it with this new perception and understanding.

Now we finally came to Andreas point on the list, the Berlin Wall! Or well, pieces of it at least. They were displayed on the Potsdam Place and there were a couple of guys clad in Soviet and German uniforms standing there with their respective flags. Obviously I jumped right in, got adorned with a cool hat and went on a photo spree. Andreas was less inclined to do the same and stayed away from the pictures this time. Oh well, his loss!

Just next to the Potsdam Place is the Boulevard of Stars which wasn't really all that special to me, quite few names that I recognized but none that rocked my world like they did in Cannes! I did however love a sign pointing to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 9269 km away!

We also passed a quite interesting little park near Marlene Dietrich Place where we enjoyed watching a man and his dog for a while. I guess that by this point we didn't really have any more goals but just walked around and enjoyed the scenery in general and once we felt done with Berlin for the day we returned to Tim's place where we talked a bit with Lina before going to bed. Quite exhausted by all the walking under the scorching sun.

For tomorrow we will check out this park that used to be and airfield. Lina recommended it as being a magical place so we'll check it out. It seems to be quite a bit out of the way though and neither me nor Andreas have really understood what it is or what makes it magical, But, a tip is a tip so we will do our best to find it and see for ourselves. Andreas also mentioned this Checkpoint Charlie as a significant point of interest that he had been to when he was a child. I read somewhere that it had been destroyed but the source didn't really seem all that genuine so we'll see if we can find it!

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!

Additional photos below
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13th September 2015
Ruins of the Franciscan Monastery

I love Berlin and will go there again in the future. I still haven't seen those ruins so next time we have to see them. Thanks for letting us know about it./Ake
13th September 2015
Ruins of the Franciscan Monastery

I agree with you, I will certainly return there myself. =)
15th September 2015
Berlin Wall

You break me up Per-Olof...Crazy!!!
16th September 2015
Berlin Wall

Hehe, if I had a middle name that would probably be it. :D

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