Monday 8 June
We finally managed to get all of us to Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall remains, and the Brandenburg Gate this morning. Despite multiple attempts by helpful strangers to take a photo of us with the “soldiers” they all insisted on coming out fuzzy. It was interesting to follow the line of the Wall and just by the Topography of Terror a 200 metre stretch remains preserved with some remnants also a bit further along at Potsdamer Platz. We explained to Zachary as best we could about the Wall, without going into too much gruesome detail.
Next stop was the site of Hitler’s Bunker. You can’t actually see anything here as the East Germans removed the remains of it in the early 70s, although information boards show you a plan of it.
Just a few steps up the road from there is the Holocaust Memorial. This is, like Gleis 17 at Grunewald, a simple but appropriate memorial. It is 4.7 acres covered with 2.711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. It resembles a cemetery. Underneath there is a list of all known victims. We couldn’t go into this though
as it is closed on Mondays.
We then walked along to the Brandenburg Gate and all the UEFA crap had been moved so we could actually see it properly! From there we made our way to the Hauptbahnhof and, after a bit of confusion as to where we had stored our luggage, caught the train to Krefeld
via Duisburg. We got off the train at the station just a few hundred metres from the Gebauer house and Andreas and Birgitta met us. Zachary quickly made himself at home and Tim came round a bit later. We almost didn’t recognise him wearing business clothes (he is working between finishing his Bachelor degree and starting his Masters). A late night for him, asleep 9:30ish, so hopefully a sleep-in tomorrow. Tuesday 9 June
I was the first of the 3 of us to wake up at 8:50am! So a bit of a late start but after breakfast Andreas and Birgitta took us on an “Industrial Wasteland” tour – that is a visit to some historic industrial sites that are no longer in use for their original purpose.
The first stop was about 80km away in Waltrop. As we drove up we were at the very western edge of Germany and we saw a number of signs to Dutch cities. Here we visited the LWL-Industriemuseum. The main exhibition was the Henrichenburg ship lift which was has been out of service since the late 70s. We were able to go in, under, and up and explore how it all worked. When we got to the top (224 steps up) you could see very clearly how far the ships that went into it had to be lifted in order to continue along the Dortmund-Ems canal. We also got to go into a couple of old barges and there was also an exhibition on shipwrecks. Some other old vessels were on display and there was even a playground. All in all very interesting and enjoyable and certainly not something we ever would have found by ourselves. While we were sitting having a snack we were approached by two people with microphones – shades of Dresden! They were from a radio station asking people about the museum. Fortunately we were able to claim language ignorance and passed the buck to Andreas to
do the interview.
Next stop was the town of Bottrop. After some afternoon tea we walked towards a structure called the Tetraedra (Tetrahedron). This is a steel sculpture situated on top of mining land. To get to it we could walk a circuitous mountain path or take the more direct steps. We chose the latter and it was only 386 steps to get to the top where the Tetraedra was. Another 200 steps and we were at the top of the structure itself. Excellent views of the industrial area surrounding it were to be had. The trip back down was fun too! This is not Heather’s cup of tea at all, (much like the Magic Tree walk in Adelboden) but she made it, nerves a bit frayed but still relatively sane. Zachary did all the stairs and somehow still had the energy to run full speed all the way back to the car (about 1.2 km).
Our last stop was in Duisburg at the Landschaftspark. This former “secret city” was out-of-bounds to the public until industry was stopped. This was an ironworks and has been transformed into a public park. You can go inside
and all around. The blast furnace is now a viewing area. There are gardens, rock-climbing facilities, play areas, and the old gasometer has been transformed into a scuba-diving complex. What a great way to put to use what would otherwise have become an eyesore.
Then it was back to Krefeld for dinner and bedtime for Zachary at 9pm.
A very enjoyable and different day. We certainly would never have visited any of these had we been on our own. That is certainly an advantage of staying with people – they have ideas and can take you to places that are off the beaten track. An excellent day even with all the steps! (Well over 1600)
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