Day 2 – Walk around Berlin (26/4/2023)

Not a bad night’s sleep, although the room seemed a bit warm, despite the aircon being turned to about 15 degrees!

Made it reasonably comfortably to breakfast, to be confronted by a vast buffet. Neither of us were particularly hungry after last night’s blowout, but managed to force down some sustenance and coffee to prepare us for potentially a lot of walking. We are fortunate that much of what Berlin has to offer is within walking distance of the hotel.

So off we went, me having prepared an Alexa list of the order of things we planned to visit.

First up (groan) was the Brandenburg Gate. It was freezing – a really piercing wind and a small hail shower! Explains the woolly hats…..

Much of Berlin seems to be pressure washed

Box 1 ticked.

Next up – the Reichstag. This has a glass dome on the top, which one can ascend to and reputedly gives great views of Berlin. No chance today, but a visit to the booking office secured a slot for 12.30 tomorrow.

Box 2 ticked.

Potsdamerplatz next. This proved to be the first exposure we had to the Berlin Wall. And what an exposure. A whole set of murals explaining the history and construction of this division between Western democratic and Eastern dictatorial ideologies. I’m afraid some of these pictures might be a bit hard to read, but hopefully they provide some real insight into how this schism came about. Fascinating and thought-provoking.

Wall extracts
Not just one wall, but Death Alley between two walls
This shows the border around West Berlin, a Western enclave in East Germany. Movement between West and East Berlin was strictly controlled by East Germany (GDR or DDR).
This double row of cobblestones shows the path of the Berlin Wall

Box 3 ticked.

Mall of Berlin next. The main reason for visiting this was to buy some EU/UK plug adapters as I’d brought the wrong ones (but you knew that, didn’t you)? It’s enormous, but although I hate places like this, mission accomplished.

Box 4 ticked.

Most people have heard of Checkpoint Charlie. This was incredibly well presented and detailed, and I’ll try to keep the pictures to a minimum. It describes the whole story of how Germany was divided up between the Soviet Union, USA, Britain and France, how the Soviet partition became East Germany, ending with the latter being subsumed into West Germany (the Federal Republic) and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Absolutely riveting stuff as far as I’m concerned, but I do apologise for the quantity and quality of the photos here. If you’re not interested, I’ll not be offended if you skip this next section.

German partition after the war
Mid 1950s Europe
Europe today
Various uprisings
Berlin Wall marker
Precursor of the Cuban missile crisis in 1961
This is a copy of the sign indicating going from East to West Berlin via Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie today
Jean in Checkpoint Charlie
The beginning of the end for the Soviet Union
Erich Honecker, East Germany leader and Mikel Gorbachev, Russian leader just before the Berlin Wall fell

The reason it was called Checkpoint Charlie? It was the third of seven checkpoints, after Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo.

Box 5 well and truly ticked.

After this, a coffee was sought. And delivered. In fact, two coffees each. We were both cold and needed to take the weight off our feet. Most welcome.

The next item was some remains of the Wall, but these did not prove to be all that interesting.

Old GDR buildings coloured to make them less drab
Wall remnants
The aforementioned Axel Springer building
And again

Various museums were on the list next, but the only one we actually went in was the DDR Museum on the side of the canal, as it had been strongly recommended by a friend of Jean’s. Some nice architecture on the way there.

Comms tower
Part of the Humboldt University
Berlin cathedral

The museum was chaotic – full of schoolkids and students, and very difficult to discern a logic to. It gradually made a bit more sense as it quietened down and it certainly brought home how tough it must have been for the inhabitants of East Germany. Masses of detail.

By this time, though, we’d both had enough, so returned to the hotel.

I got some ideas from the Viking reps as to where to go for a meal, and we ended up in an Italian restaurant (Sagrantino) about 100 metres down the road.

This was delicious. After a starter of cold meats and cheese, Jean had sea bream and I had Argentine beef.

Fantastic flavours

A very nice bottle of wine and a limoncello (me) and a pannacotta (Jean) set this off nicely.

Back to the hotel to write all this up and prepare for bed.

The only items on tomorrow’s list so far are the scheduled visit to the Reichstag and a Berlin By Night excursion. Join us to see how that went.

4 responses to “Day 2 – Walk around Berlin (26/4/2023)”

  1. just sat down with cup of tea and read your blog on berlin wall like you i find it fascinating stuff made very interesting reading
    the meal sounded delicous

  2. It was. Not cheap, though! Proper marathon walk around Berlin.

  3. An interesting tour.

  4. Yes, it was. More to come.

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