Posts Tagged ‘Brandenburg Gate’

Berlin (Germany)

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

September 1, 2010 (Wednesday) – September 3, 2010 (Friday):

Bloc Party – “Kreuzburg”:

There is a wall that runs right through me
Just like the city, I will never be joined
What is this love? Why can I never hold it?
Did it really run out in the strangers’ bedrooms?

I have decided
At twenty-five
Something must change

Saturday night in East Berlin
We took the U-Bahn to the East Side Gallery
I was sure I’d found love with this one lying with me
Crying again in the old bahnhof

I have decided
At twenty-five
That something must change

After sex
The bitter taste
Been fooled again
The search continues

Those are the lyrics from Bloc Party’s “Kreuzburg”.  Having heard this song many many times since the album came out several years ago, I never really appreciated the lyrics and its references to areas in Berlin.  They were just random song lyrics about places I’ve never been to.  But now, there are just random song lyrics about places I have been to.  Albeit, for a short two days in Berlin.

Berlin is quite odd.  It’s definitely an European city, but it doesn’t feel like an European city; especially just having visited Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.   To me, Berlin had more of a vibe similar to areas of New York City (without all the high rise skyscrapers).   Very cosmopolitan. Walking around the area where we were staying, Prenzlauer Berg, there were a mixture of both smaller, trendy clothing boutiques and hip restaurants/cafes (“hip”, according to Miriam; because we all know I’m not so hip, what with my same polos since high school).  Perhaps this urban cosmopolitan character exists because this area of Berlin is beginning to gentrify, as are many pockets of Berlin.  Because when you think about it, Berlin (especially East Berlin) has really only been free of restrictive communist rule for only a little over 20 years now.  Aww, so young…so cute.

So, how do you manage visiting a city with such a rich and complicated history in just two days…4 hour walking tour.  That’s how.  Apparently there’s this company, New Europe Tours, that offers free walking tours in various European cities.  All they ask for in return is tips (if so compelled).  Having had a good experience with it in Prague, we tried it again in Berlin.  What did we have to lose, it was “free” afterall.   You’d be surprised with how much of a city you can see in four hours walking.   I feel like we got a good view of most of the major city sites (Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Jewish memorial, Berliner Dom, TV Tower, etc.), in addition to getting historical background color on the city.  It was a good way to spend the late morning.

Not included, however, was visiting the inside of particular sites.  That we would have to do later.  Nor was the East Side Gallery included.  So after the tour, we made our way to the East Side Gallery to check out the art work done on the former Berlin Wall.  Some of the murals were a little out there, but you could tell the common theme in all the murals was peace and tolerance.  A great symbolic use of the former dividing wall.

In the evening we checked out both the Pergamon Museum and Reichstag (with its glass dome and observation deck).   The Pergamon Museum was quite impressive, with its massive reconstructions of Greek, Roman, and Islamic archaeological collections.  In particular were the Pergamon Altar (circa 170 BC) and the Market Gate of Miletus (circa 2nd century AD).  Afterwards, we headed over to the Reichstag, which houses the Parliament and a rooftop glass dome.  The rooftop glass dome, with its spiraling staircase, allows visitors to view the parliament below.  Which symbolically was designed to remind the new democratic government that the people were always higher, watching over them.  So clever, those Germans.

We’re back to Brussels for a day, then London for the weekend before we fly out to Russia.  Our European leg is slowly drawing to a close…

To view more pictures from Berlin, visit the Photos.