Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weekend in Berlin

Once again time has speed warped and I find myself having gone days without writing and knee deep in to do lists.  But alas, here I am with some free quiet time - duration unknown as Hannah's naps are anything but predictable - so now I can share stories and pictures of our weekend trip to Berlin.

Travis's Mom arrived on a Friday morning (yippee!) and we left on Saturday morning for Berlin via the Autobahn.  The train was expensive and not any faster than driving.  There was no time to exercise my trip planning skills before hand so we glanced through guide books on the way.

After over five hours in the car we made it to our hotel in Berlin, conveniently located near Potsdamer Platz - a great central location with the underground transportation station and lots of restaurants right there.  Our hotel room was nice (thank goodness the stars actually mean something here in Germany - unlike in Paris!).  We wasted no time after deciding which direction to head based on a choice of restaurant advertised on a map we picked up in the lobby - like I said zero planning ahead.

We made our way toward Brandenburger Gate (Tor) which was incredibly huge and so familiar after seeing it in so many movies and pictures.  I should mention we watched the movie Downfall the night before, which is a really great film about Hitler's last days and good to watch right before visiting Berlin.  After a delicious German dinner we headed back to the hotel, got Hannah and Nana settled and headed back out for some rare couple time.  Bonus to having grandparents visit!

For our "night out" we headed to the nearby Sony Center which is loaded with restaurants and great people watching.  The actual structure has the weirdest acoustics and is visible from so many places in the city.  So we found a nice little restaurant to enjoy a couple tasty beers.

Saturday we rushed over to catch the Third Reich tour - about a four hour walking tour - with an amazing knowledge and fact filled Irish tour guide, Barry - well worth the money and more.  The tour really started once we got to the main train station and then headed over to the Reichstag.  Our guide unloaded tons of facts and information about how Hitler and the Nazi party were able to take over the government - scary really when you think about it.  We saw so many sites, memorials, monuments, buildings and even the now parking lot where Hitler's bunker used to be (Seriously watch Downfall) and were exposed to so much history and information from Barry.  Seems like the tour was much longer than four hours.  He took us to new Roma Sinti monument, through part of the Tier Garten, to the Soviet Monument, to see Nazi architecture the few buildings that remain anyway and to the Holocaust Memorial, to the intact remains of the wall and ended at the Topography of Terror museum (great free museum).  A really great tour however haunting and after we visited the museum on our own Sunday night I was just about done focusing on the Third Reich and Nazis.

Roma and Sinti Holocaust Victims Memorial in the Tiergarten 

Russian Monument

The Wall - what is left - by the Topography of Terror Museum

Through the wall looking at the old Nazi Air Force Administration building

Checkpoint Charlie
We wrapped up our long weekend trip on Monday with a visit to the Checkpoint Charlie area including the newer Wall Museum and then continued on to the architecturally rich Gendarmenmarkt with it's two beautiful churches.  Finally, we ended at a cafe to enjoy chocolate croissants before getting on the road.

Berlin is a city that I would definitely visit again.  There were things we didn't have time to see and the atmosphere there was enjoyable and we crammed in as much as possible because we never know if we will make it back there.

We have a little less than two years here in Germany and so many places to see.  Any recommendations?