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Published: August 13th 2017
We fly into Berlin and take the train into central Berlin then the metro to our apartment at Frankfurter Tor. We buy a weeks pass good for the busses, trains, metro and tram. Our apartment building is a historical monument. It was built in the 50's together with the avenue Karl Marx Allee (in the past called Stalin Allee). We are staying in East Berlin in what was the Soviet sector. Our apartment was in the past behind the Berlin Wall, our landlord says spies lived here. As a child I never would have dreamed I would be staying in East Berlin. We like our apartment it is located right in front of a metro station Frankfurter Tor and a tram station, a few block away is a street with lots of cafes. A few blocks the other direction is a street with cheap small restaurants. Brad and Christopher like the location because it is near many nightclubs. Berlin is famous for it's nightlife. It is Saturday night and grocery stores close early here and are closed on Sundays. We find a small shop and buy eggs, bread and butter so we will at least have breakfast food until Monday.
Sunday we head to the German History Museum called Deutsches Historisches Museum, the boys join us. We all learn a lot about German history, the museum is free but we pay for audio guides. We spend about four hours here and have lunch in the museum cafe garden. The museum is great for adults and children.
Most of our time in Berlin, Mark and I head out early to musemus and Brad and Chrisgopher visit the nightclubs which usually don't get going until after midnight and can stay open all night. They sleep in and head out in the afternoon. Some of the night clubs are very picky about who they let in. You may wait in line for 45 minute, they look you over, ask a question or two then tell you yes or no. Dressing well will get you excluded, smiling will get you excluded, being in a group gets you excluded and begin foreign gets you excluded. Dispite all this Brad and Christopher never get excluded, being twins helped and they got into the clubs.
Mark and I spend a full day at the Gemaldegalerie, Old Masters Museum. We ate lunch at the museum and
rush through the last galleries as they announce closing. We loved the art collection which included Albrecht Durer; Hans Holbein; Jan van Eyck; Raphael; Botticelli; Titian; Caravaggio; Peter Paul Rubens; Rembrand and Vermeer among others. The entrance fee included free audio guide. What made this museum so enjoyable was there were no tour groups here. No trying to see a painting as tour guides and their large groups stand in front of the art. A great day!
Mark and I went to Brandenburg Gate then Check Point Charlie. Brad and Christopher went too but not at the same time, this is how we rolled in Berlin. If you want to get your picture taken with the pretend guards you need to tip. We also went to the Check Point Charlie Museum. It was started by a man who lost friends while trying to escape over the wall. We paid 15 euros to get in and 5 for the audio guide. This is not a large welll run museum and it is hot and stuffy, having said that we did learn a lot about events leading up to building the wall. How many different ways people escaped from East Berlin
Mark at Brandenburg Gate
When JFK visited the Soviets put up a black curtain so people in East Berlin could not see him.
and how many died trying. Finally we learn about the end of the wall. Walking around Berlin you can see bricks with (Berlin Wall) in German showing where the wall was.
We visit the free museum Topography of Terror. In front of the museum is a section of the Berlin Wall. The museum is a chronological picture portral of the rise and fall of the Nazis. There are many pictures of the victims and it is very sad but an important reminder of what can happen if the wrong people get in power.
We visit Luther Matthew's Church which has an exibit on social issues.
We have a rainy day and we decide to visit Charlottenburg Palace. We take a metro to a train then a bus to get to the Palace. The Palace was built in 1740 for King Friedrich II of Prussia and became a museum in 1927, we spent all day here, taking a break to eat pizza across the street. So many beautifully decorated rooms. Napoleon slept here on his way to Berlin, the royals had already fled. In one of the bedrooms was a cabinet which held war games. Used by the
King and his sons to practice war maneuvers, the game had building blocks and tiles that represented weapons. Because it had been raining all day the grounds were closed. It was a long interesting day with lots of history.
No rain today so we head to Tiergarten, a large natural park with trees, creeks and lakes. A great place to stroll or ride bikes. A Soviet Memorial is in the park, 2000 fallen Soviet soldiers are buried here. In the last ten days of WWII 70,000 people were killed in Berlin. German leaders insisted on fighting to the end.
Today another rainy day, Mark and I head to Spandau, the oldest part of Berlin founded in 1197. The oldest house in Spandau is from the late 15th century and houses the information center. We visit St Nicholas Church one of the oldest in Berlin completed in 1370. We walked down to the river and watch the lock lower the water level and a dozen boats go through. We had two beers at the local pub the cost for two was 4.50 euros. Yes we have lost the tourists prices here.
Tonight we meet Brad and Christopher at
a Food Hall. On Thursdays the Food Hall is full of food booths and booths that sell beer and wine. On our way we stop to visit the outdoor East Side Gallery. This is a large section of Berlin wall painted by artists. We are in a part of town where lots of young people live and it is a bit edgy. After dinner we stop at an outdoor beer garden for beer and wine. Our last stop is a outdoor club called Cassiopei. This place has an outdoor climbing and bouldering wall but what interests us most is the outdoor movie. We buy our beers and settle into the beach chairs to watch Wonder Woman. It starts to rain and they hand out thick blankets and umbrellas, this only adds to our enjoyment.
One afternoon Christopher, Brad, Mark and I go to the IMAX movie theater to see Dunkirk. Funny the two movies we see in Germany, both played in English with no subtitles have Germans as the bad guys.
Our last day in Berlin we visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, the memorial is blocks of cement of different sizes and elevations. We wanted to
understand the memorial so we go to the free museum under the memorial. You can find the entrance on one corner near a small building. Ask one of the helpful guides at the memorial if you can't find the entrance. The museum personalizes the victims with a room with pictures and stories of families before the war and tells you what happened to them. There is a room with letters and notes from victims, some trown from train windows or before they were shot. Another room is a remberance room with the names and short stories told. It will take eight years before the last name is spoken. I cried hearing some of the stories, but it is important that these stories be told and remembered.
We have no rain for our visit to Reichstag the parliament building with a glass dome. It is free to visit but you need a timed reservation. You can get reservations online or at a booth across the street from Reichstag. You must have your passport with you when you make your reservation and when you visit. We had our drivers license when we made our reservation and when we visited. They said
we could not enter but we talked our way in. From the dome you have a 360 degree view of Berlin and the dome itself is a marvel.
We enjoyed our time in Berlin and there are so many more museums we did not visit, it is an affordable city too.
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