The Statue Staircase of the Bode Museum in Berlin

Berlin

A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Leipziger Platz (once no mans land between East and West Berlin ) with the Canadian Embassy in the background.
A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Leipziger Platz (once no mans land between East and West Berlin ) with the Canadian Embassy in the background.

I arrived in Berlin from Munich on the night train, having a decent sleep. After doing a red eye from Toronto to Paris I certainly slept better then that horrible 3 hours of fitful unconsciousness where my feet froze. (Why I was so cold on the exit isle of an airplane I don’t know.)

But I’ve digressed.

I used a AirBnB for the first time and wanted to try it out. The stay was great and the host named Tee was accommodating had a large room and was in a nice local neighbourhood, I also found a decent place for breakfast near by.

The thing about Berlin that is very apparent is it’s still very much in the metamorphosis. Yes all cities are constantly changing, but it’s more prevalent in Berlin then any other city I visited in Europe. Potsdamer Platz was the largest construction site in Europe while it was being developed in the 1990’s but the city is still very much under construction and still healing old wounds from the city being ripped apart during the East German Occupation.

After visiting Juno Beach in Normandy and the German National Museum of Contemporary History  in Bonn ( Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ) it was important for me to see as much history as possible while I was in Berlin.

Bike Tours

Biking in the Tiegarten Park. (trying to take a picture smile and cycle at the same time)
Biking in the Tiegarten Park. (trying to take a picture, smile and cycle at the same time)

Berlin also started a bit of a trend I really tried to stop:

  • Take a bike tour on the first day
  • Get completely lost getting to bike tour company
  • Arrive horribly late
  • But still make the tour with minutes to spare.

Bike tours are a great way to see the city, especially on a beautiful sunny day, but only if you are an experienced cyclist as you will be cycling in traffic . They give you a great reference for the city you are visiting and give you a decent experience in the layout of the city center.

I like bike tours because you can cycle trough parks and squares and places where buses can’t venture. I really like Tiergarten park, once inside the park it reminded me of the interior of Stanley Park with it’s tall tree’s, gardens and grassy areas.

I found visiting central Berlin emotionally exhausting, the entire city was in some way effected by the either the Second World War or the Berlin Wall, or reunification.

The Alte Nationalgalerie seen through the columns of the Neues Museum.
The Alte Nationalgalerie seen through the columns of the Neues Museum.

I visited Museum Island which is very much under construction. But I saw the egyptian collection at the Neues Museum. The Museum building itself was heavily damaged in the war and the renovations of the building and the vestibule and main staircase show the scars from that damage. There seem to be a really sense in Germany and Berlin not wanting to forget the mistakes of the past and showing the scars of the past is one of those ways.

The main entryway of the Bode Museum one of the most ornate entrances I have ever seen.
The main entryway of the Bode Museum one of the most ornate entrances I have ever seen.

I also visited the Bode Museum which has one of the most ornate entrance hall of any museum I visited. The Bode Museum is huge and I made the mistake to try and take it all in, but I really enjoy seeing a sculpture by the renowned carver Donatello. The grand staircase was just as impressive as the entry hall and it really takes a while to take it all in.

One of the top must seas I heard about was having breakfast on top of the Reichstag at the Käfer Dachgarten-Restaurant. It does required reservations at least 24 hour in advance and my breakfast wasn’t the cheapest in the world, but the view is spectacular on a clear day and after your meal you get to leisurely visit the dome at the top of the building. ( Yes you can visit the dome for free, but I hear the line ups are long and you have to reserve a head of time for security reasons anyways. )

I thought after seeing present day Germany I would remember the past by visiting the German Resistance Memorial Center ( Gedwnksätte Detscher Widerstand ). I wanted to see the BendlerBlock after watching the 2008 movie Valkyrie as I though it was important to see what inspired the very true to actual events movie. What I wasn’t prepared for the was the emotional impact visiting the center would have on me. The shear amount of people who were involved not just in the July 20th resistance but in all resistance movements was far greater then I ever believed.

I ended my Berlin trip with a visit to the Potsdammer Platz. Where I remember there was a huge Roger Walters The Wall Live in Berlin in the 1990’s. I saw a Canada Flag and realized that this is where the Canadian Embassy was located, sadly the Marshall McLuhan Salon is only open on Friday’s but I took a picture of the Embassy none the less.

While the Spy Museum looked interesting the topic was touched upon at the DDR museum they weren’t part of the Berlin City Pass and gave no discount so $20 ($30 CDN) entry fee was a bit steep for me and I was exhausted. So I left for my AirBnB and a good night sleep in preparation for my trip to Amsterdam.

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