History around every corner
02.01.2007 - 08.01.2007
I started off the New Year in Berlin, a city I had been longing to visit ever since I started to learn German in high school (although quickly giving it up three years later as soon as I could). It didn't disappoint.
There was so much to see and do that a week didn't seem enough and it in fact flew by. The first day there I lined up in a line at Schloss Charlottenburg only to find out that the line was to to get a ticket for a tour the earliest being three hours later! A bit annoyed I headed instead to the old wing of the palace which was wonderful in its own right with ornate rooms and beautiful gardens so the day was not wasted.
The next day is one I will remember forever. I went on a walkting tour to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp with a fellow Aussie as the guide. It was an amazing experience, and standing there where histories worst crimes took place left me shaken to my core and at one point physically sick from all the emotion surrounding the place. I couldn't recommend highly enough the tour which was free apart from a train ticket and whatever tip you felt the guide deserved at the end of the day.
I joined another walking tour the next day, this time of the main sites of Berlin itself. It was fasinating to learn the stories behind things that you just cant find in guidebooks or on your own. We were taken to Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, the absolutley beautiful Jewish memorial, where I could have spent hours wandering between the columns, Adolf's bunker, a small section of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island and the site of the infamous book burning. For those with little time in Berlin, it is a perfect way to see the city, and for those with longer it is a great starting point for further exploration.
The next day was a Tuesday which was great because it was free day at the Musuems after 4pm, so after checking out the extreme methods of escape at Checkpoint Charlie, and being moved to tears at the Jewish Musuem and its black room, I headed off to the Pergamon Musuem and the Egyptian Musuem which truly hold some wonders.
The following day I lined up for two hours in the pouring rain in order to get to the top of the reichstag but as luck would have it the sky would clear so after all that I could barely see anything from the top anyway.
Later in the week I checked out the topography of terror which needs some serious funding to be able to operate properly, and then headed off to the East Side Gallery, the section of the wall covered in some serious political cartoons. Standing on either side of the wall was my little secret enjoyment.
But that was all I had time for in Berlin and a plane to Amsterdam beckoned me.