Hi guys! How are you doing today? You might have noticed I haven’t posted for a few days, and there’s a reason for this. I’ve done a lot over a few days and it’s been exhausting. So instead, I’m going to merge all the would-be individual posts into one long one.
So on Sunday morning, I was up bright and early. Today was my first full day in Berlin and it was going to be jam packed full of interesting things to do. The first thing, however, was to get a shower. I hadn’t had the opportunity to freshen up since leaving Clermont-Ferrand and I was desperate. Once squeaky clean and not smelling like a coach, it was time for breakfast. I didn’t know what to expect regarding shop opening times, as in France almost everywhere is closed Sundays, and in the UK it’s limited opening hours. To my surprise, however, many places were still open.
The first place on my list was the Brandenburger Tor. I thought I might as well get the big one out of the way. My thinking was if I could get there early enough, I might avoid the tourists. Of course, that never seems to work as everyone else has the same idea. Anyway, it wasn’t as busy as it could be and I managed to get some good photos without too many people in them. I of course bought plenty of souvenirs during my trip, here was a piece of the Berlin Wall and a rubber duck wearing some kind of leather. Just round the corner from here was the Reichstagsgebäude (the government building) and the Holocaust Memorial. Walking through the memorial was strange. Because loud noises are forbidden, it was eerily quiet. The kind of quiet where you can stop and reflect on your surroundings without distraction. Running along Ebertstraße is a large park with another memorial, the Memorial to Homosexuals Persucuted Under Nazism, or Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen. It’s simply a large concrete cube with a window showing a silent video memorial.
An interesting museum to see a long stretch of the Berlin Wall is Topography of Terror. Located on Niederkirchenstraße, it talks about the time just before the formation of the DDR with the rise of Socialism and Hitler.
My next visit was the German Spy Museum. It’s in Leipziger Platz, and features a section of the Wall outside on the grass. In this area, and indeed around Berlin, you can see where the Wall stood by a double-brick paving in the ground. It leads up to buildings and cuts across roads, showing just how much Germany had to rebuild after the fall of the Wall. Anyway, the museum talks a lot about the State Security (the Stasi) and it’s methods.
The last visit of the day was the Ritter Sport museum. For those who have never heard of Ritter Sport, get your head out of the clouds and listen up. It’s a German chocolate brand that has a ridiculous number of flavours, from lemon cream, hazelnut, cornflake crisp and so many others. They’re on sale, to my knowledge, in the UK (mainly Lidl), Denmark and Russia, but they probably sell to other countries as well. In the museum, you learn about the quality of chocolate and where it came from. It’s only a small museum above the main shop, but it’s still interesting. The main attraction is the shop, though. Walls packed with too many flavours of chocolate to count, branded bags and t-shirts and hats, a literal tower of chocolate. How could you not love this place? I came out with so much chocolate, as to my knowledge, Ritter Sport isn’t sold in France. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
Monday rolled up, and another busy day. I slept in a little today, but once rested up I hit the road. Or should I say rail. I definitely frequented the Sonnenallee S-Bahn station. My main focus today was to see the DDR Museum by the Spree river. After a very long and cold wait, I was in. The museum focuses on the time from the Berlin Wall’s construction in 1961 to it’s fall in 1989. They have loads of real items from the time, and it even has a showroom-style reproduction of an East-Berlin flat, including real electronics, food packaging and TV programmes from the time. There’s a Trabant that you can sit in, a Stasi cell, and an interrogation room. For people interested in interacting with the time, this is a place for you. It took me a while to get round, but only because of the sheer amount of information available. They even have a guidebook to go along with the museum, and it’s like a whistlestop tour on the DDR.
Next was Alexanderplatz for some shopping. Back in France, Primark isn’t really a thing yet, so of course I had to have a look around. I had lunch in the area as well, and had a closer look at the Fernsehturm. The wait was to be an hour, and I didn’t fancy going to the top to see Berlin without the main attraction in sight. Maybe another time when I have more time.
My last visit was a short-term museum/spectacle called Nineties Berlin. It’s on Stralauer Straße, and it’s there until February 2019. The museum focuses on life just after German reunification in 1990/91, especially on the techno music scene and the people involved in it. There are various sections to walk through, one with a massive projected screen wrapping around the room, another full of mirrors and playing music from the various Love Festivals. I’d highly recommend, even if you’re not into techno music. It’s incredibly informative on a few other topics as well, like people escaping over the wall, or failing and getting shot.
And finally, today came and went. I didn’t have many places left to visit so I mainly walked around and enjoyed the fine weather. My Airbnb host was nice and said I could check out whenever, so I was lucky to not have to lug my bags around all day. So the first stop was the German Technology Museum. It wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped, but some will enjoy the displays of older technology like computers from the 1960s, phones from the 1800s or a model of a TV studio. The scary thing was that the original iPhone is now considered old enough to be in a museum, and there’s a Windows XP installation disc on display with the caption ‘A modern-day software installation disc’. Are you sure?
Next was a place called Mauerpark. Going on the name, I assumed it was a place with a long stretch of graffiti’d Berlin Wall, but it was instead a normal wall. But the graffiti was still good!
I was intending to visit the U-Bahn museum, but it was a long journey there, and I preferred to stay in the main part of town for my last day. Instead, I revisited the Ritter Sport shop and Alexanderplatz before heading back to the Airbnb for the last time. On the way back, I picked up a plant for my host. He had such a beautiful apartment full of houseplants. It was literally my dream apartment.
Once I was packed with my two extra bags, I took the S-Bahn to Berlin ZOB and ended up here, on the coach going home. I’ll certainly miss Berlin and I can’t wait for the chance to visit it again.
So, that was my weekend in Berlin. While I haven’t put any pictures on here, keep an eye out on my YouTube channel in the next week or so for a video on my trip. And that makes the end of this post I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day, whichever continent and time zone you’re in! Auf Wiedersehen!