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The Magic that's Berlin

June 22, 2018

Berlin, Germany, a fabulously magical place! Three of my girlfriends and I decided to go away for a long weekend

(4 days) in search of a destination rich in culture and at the same time, budget friendly.

 

We all agreed on Berlin. I had never been before and had always wanted to see what had remained of the infamous Berlin Wall! A friend in our group had been there and vouched for it being brilliant. So off we went to this enchanting adventure!

 

After a delay in our flights  due to some technical problems we finally took off from East Midlands airport, UK, on Friday,

1 June, 2018 and got to Berlin in just under 2 hours. After we landed, we caught a train to our hotel at H2, Alexanderplatz.

I only realised then that we were based in East Berlin, what used to be the communist side! It is now difficult to tell both sides apart. Our first sight of Alexanderplatz was the Fernsehturm which was a television tower in central Berlin constructed between 1965-69 by the German Democratic Republic. 

First things first.  We had something to eat in our hotel then we were shown our fabulous room with a brilliant view of Alexanderplatz! We then set out our itinerary for the day. After having a sumptuous lunch in our hotel, we visited the nearby pub which held a mini  beer festival every Friday. As soon as we went in, we could feel the electrifying 'fiesta' celebration.  There was a live band and dancing all night! What a party! It was amazing!

 

 

The place was heaving with people all of whom had beer mugs in their hands! We were shown our table and in a few minutes, mugs of beer appeared. We ordered some protein laden meal - sausages, pork etc.

 

 

 

It was quite a massive feast, we just couldn’t finish it all no matter how hard we tried. The beer was freshly made in the premises as they had their own brewery. It was sweet beer, so sweet that I, who do not drink at all, drunk that 1 pint mug without a struggle. Well, so I thought until the alcohol kicked in then I remembered why I never drink and never will again!

A massive hangover the morning after was to be expected and didn't disappoint! It didn’t last long though as we were all excited to be in Berlin and planned our itinerary for the day!

 

We went on an open bus tour around the city.  We paid for the Hop On - Hop Off bus tours for our second day and a river cruise the day after as a package. There were two coloured tour buses which we could use. There were the red and green buses. Both these buses had slightly different routes. We used both.

 

We had an amazing tour around the city, crossing both East and West Berlin! I am in history land!! I only ever read or hear of Berlin in our history classes or the news. Now I am reliving history! The commentaries on our tour buses transported us back in time.

 

At that time, I could not believe I was actually there! As I was in the bus, I could not wait to see and touch the Berlin Wall. The Berlin wall was originally build in 1961 to separate East Berlin (controlled by the Soviet Union) from West Berlin (US, France and British controlled). It was demolished in 1989.

 

We then went past Check Point Charlie. It was the name given by the Western Allies to the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Then finally, I caught sight of what remained of the Berlin Wall. Only a small part of the original poignant image of the infamous wall, remained untouched. If only that wall could talk! It could tell a lifetime worth of stories it has witnessed over the years!

The rest of the wall has been painted by over 100 artists from all over the world! The moment I touched the wall, I touched history! Amazing feeling!

 

Then we went to the Holocaust Memorial with its 2,711 grey concrete slabs or stelae. I was not sure what I was seeing when we made a stop over to check out the endless rows of concrete slabs. We were informed that this was  the Berlin Holocaust Memorial -  a memorial to the murdered Jews who perished during WW Two.

 

The Brandenburg Gate: once a symbol of a divided nation has become a symbol of unity and peace. This photo was taken from the glass dome of  Reichstag Building.

 

Next stop, the Berlin Victory Column. The victory column was built in 1873 to celebrate Prussia's victory in the Franco-German War.

 

 The Reichstag Building - it is the historic House of Parliament topped by a Norman Foster glass dome with 360-degree city views.

 

Inside the glass dome of the Reichstag Building.

 

Spotted : A quirky way to get around! Wouldn't it be great to hang out with friends and get very fit legs at the same time!

The following day, we went on a river cruise. We had an amazing view of the various sceneries, showcasing magnificent architecture along the way.

 

This is the spectacular Berlin Cathedral.

The river cruise which included the museum island in the Spree River

 

Berlin is magical in terms of history and culture.  It is also home to over 100 museums and galleries! For me, the most impressive aspect of Berlin is not just the scenery and history but the people themselves. Contrary to common misconception that the Germans are aloof, rude and lack sense of humour, I discovered that the exact opposite is true.  They are straightforward people, likes to party (with lots of beer) and very efficient! I have never encountered any hostility from any one of them. The staff in our hotel couldn't do enough for us! The people in the streets couldn't do enough to help us when we seemed lost or wanted help in general. One guy in the train station, upon noticing that we were stuck on how to use the machine to secures train tickets, went out of his way to help us. He interpreted the German instructions for us and didn't leave until we had paid and got our tickets. What a gentleman! And another thing which I found impressive - the trains and buses are so punctual to a fault! Not a minute late!

 

All in all, we had a fantastic time in Berlin and I bring with me not only great memories of a great holiday but also greater respect for the German people and their system!  I won't hesitate to recommend Berlin to anybody! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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