Berlin. A city full of German history. There are hundreds of options and attractions for tourists to learn some things about the Berlin and also German history in the capital city. So I forced myself to think a lot about the past during my visit.
I don’t like to do all these typical tourist attractions and I am also not very fond of going inside the important monuments. So I tried to figure out a way to visit Berlin with it’s history and adding a part of myself to this trip.
WALKING THROUGH HISTORY: DAY 1
My friend and I stayed in the Altberlin Hotel during our visit. It’s about a ten minute walk to the Potsdamer Platz which is pretty little and we decided to stay there because we like the charm of previous centuries. So at 2 p.m. we arrived in Berlin and after bringing our bags to the hotel we made our way to the heart of the city.
As it was our first day and we both like to walk through big cities, we just wandered around through the streets until we found ourselves in front of the monument of Berlin: Brandenburger Tor. Sun was about to set and it was damn cold but although I really enjoyed the feeling of this old building. We both found it pretty funny to do these typical touristic photos in front of the Brandenburger Tor and when we walked away we both had the same feeling: right where we stood, where we had fun and we were laughing, there were people only a few decades ago suffering from the consequences brought to them by postwar era or looking for a bomb-safe refuge. It’s weird what time does to people and to cities. By the way: the Brandenburger Tor as we know it today exists since 1791 and was later in 1793 decorated with the Quadriga, the sculpture which is placed on the top of the building. The Quadriga as you see it today is only a replica of the old original, because it was destoryed during WWII.
We went over the street, strolled a little through the Tiergarten, with it’s beautiful sculptures and artworks here and there (such as the Goethe Memorial or the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism) and fianlly reached one other big typical Berlin building – the Bundestag. If you buy tickets you can go in, see a little bit of the rooms where the German politics happen and walk around in the beautiful dome, but as I told you before: I don’t like to do such as things. But it was nice to look at it from the outside and to walk a little through the park which is right in front of the buliding.
We sat down for a few minutes and watched the sunset, diving the whole world with it’s past, it’s future and present in the nicest colours you can imagine, as nothing ever happend before and nothing’s going to happen in the future. For a few moments the whole world seems calm and silent and the only thing which remains is you and your thoughts.
After this little break the sky became darker and darker with every minute, so we wanted to grab some food and relax. On the way back to Potsdamer Platz, were we wanted to eat, we passed the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and we spontaneously decided to walk through the artwork, instead of just walking by. The sculpture is just great. From the outside you may be a little bit disappointed, thinking that all these concrete blocks look boring or something like that. But after a few steps in one of those lanes you are starting to realize what all this is about. The cold concrete grows bigger and bigger with every step that you take and as it was sunless and the sky was turning dark, I really felt uncomfortable and constricted. All these apparently neverending blocks were confusing and reminded me a lot of a strange type of labyrinth, which you just want to escape from. As someone who studied a few years of Jewish studies and is highly interested in art, for me the work was just perfect to give you a little feeling about how cruel all the rejection and persecution must have been to the Jewish society in Germany during the Third Reich.
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” – Anne Frank
Arriving at Potsdamer Platz we took a food break at the Vapiano and then moved on to relax by a few drinks in a bar near our hotel. In the nice, clean and artful bar named Victoria Bar and which entrance is hidden between the house facades we let the day fade away and finally found time to calm down and to fill up our energy for the next day.
Lost and Found: Day 2
For day two of our journey I made some plans to see more facets of Berlin. I wanted to see as much as I can to soak up as much pure Berlin as possible… 🙂
On the schedule were two parks and the Museum Island Berlin. Everybody told me before going to Berlin “you have to go to the Museum Island, it’s beautiful!” so we went to the underground and … alighted at the wrong station. Whatever!, was my first thought so we decided to walk these 4 kilometers from the lower part of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district to the historical part of Berlin Mitte. Weather was changeable, so it always alternated between sunshine and snow. Although unplanned the walk turned out to be a good idea. In Friedrichshain we saw a lot of bedraggled and shabby houses, some of them are used by squatters, which was pretty interesting and the further we went the cleaner the streets became. It felt like going through different worlds, like there were two totally different images layered upon eachother: it looks kind of cool and interesting but also can give you creeps when you look at it for too long.
As we finally arrived at the Museum Island I was pretty impressed by all these gorgeous buildings which started to surround us. Especially the baroque Berliner Dom became my object of love 😀 ♥
After a short lunch break eating some fries with joppie sauce (my dutch favourite ♥ ) we went to park number one, the Volkspark Hasenheide. Someone told us that this would be a great place to be, but we were a little bit disappointed. The only highlight of this park was the memorial for Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who is also called “Turnvater” (which means something like “father of gymnastics”) and who became an idol for gymnastics during the GDR 😀
Funfact: adjacent to the Hasenheide Volkspark there is a street called Sonnenallee, where the famous German book by Thomas Brussig “Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee” takes place and which I was supposed to read during the eighth grade. The particular thing about the Sonnenallee is that the street was divided by the Berlin Wall during GDR.
The last point on the thursday schedule was my dearest: to visit the old lost amusement park Spreewaldpark which was built inside a park area called Plänterwald. It’s a little distance outside located, so we drove there by bus. After a quick walk through a neighborhood we arrived at our final destination. And it was love. I can’t help myself when it comes to lost places. These places move myself in very strange ways. I somehow feel connected to them. Sadly, the park is being demolished right now and you aren’t allowed to stroll through the amusement park anymore, but by walking around the site fence you still can see a lot of the old amusement rides, now overgrown and retaken by nature.