|Me walking next to the Open Air Berlin Wall Gallery|
Our next stop was Berlin. We took an overnight bus leaving at 9.20pm and arriving in Berlin at 8.45am the following morning. It was not the most comfortable of journeys and unfortunately I barely slept. But having said that Flixbus was really excellent and the driver was friendly and informative and I was glad that we had booked Flixbus buses for our other journeys. I would highly recommend them for quite fast and cheap travel across Europe-easier than trains in my opinion.
|The Neues Palais|
Over the three days we saw:
- Brandenburg: A sort of triumphant arch and a divisive political symbol throughout German history, very impressive. There was an Iranian human rights protest going on when we visited.
- Checkpoint Charlie: An old Soviet checkpoint in the middle of the road, a real disappointment actually
- The Eastside Gallery: This is an approximately 1 mile long open air gallery of murals on the old Berlin Wall. It took us a while and was quite busy at times but one of my favourite things to see.
- Berlin Cathedral: This was unfortunately and unexpectedly closed for restoration however the outside was quite striking and the lawns and fountains in front were very peaceful
- Museum Island: Exactly that. An island housing Berlin's museums. You could pay to go into them individually but we paid for a student combination ticket to see all 5 (although in the end we only managed 4, still by far the most cost effective way to do it). Out of all the museums I was totally entranced by the Pergamon, which housed whole buildings and ancient gates. Totally spectacular and I would highly recommend
- Typography of Terror Museum: A museum dedicated to the rise of the Nazis, their time in power, the Holocaust and the fall of the Third Reich situated on the grounds of the SS HQ. Me and Molly had studied the Nazis for A Level history and much of the information was so similar to our textbook it was like being back at school. because of that I didn't find it particularly informative but I would highly recommend. It's very immersive and informative.
|The Brandenburg Gate|
- St Mary's Church (Mariankirche): A beautiful, little Medieval church with an impressive and almost fully intact medieval wall painting showing a 'Dance of Death'. Unfortunately this was covered up for restoration when we visited it but the church was wonderful nevertheless and having seen pictures I would highly recommend.
- Berlin Olympic Stadium: A real disappointment. Very little remains of the original 1936 stadium and inside is like any other sport stadium. It's quite far out from the centre and for the price of a tour, certainly not worth it.
- Neues Palais: Me and Molly had originally planned to visit Charlottenburg Palace on a Monday but it was closed. However we consoled ourselves with a visit to The New Palace about an hour's journey away in Potsdam. A truly spectacular palace, and only one of a large park full of palaces built between the 17th and 18th centuries. The palace came with a free and very informative audio guide and we easily spent all day there. The grounds could do with some upkeep and we had to pay 3 euros for the privilege of taking photos but it was absolutely worth it. My only regret was not going back to look at the other palaces.
|Molly next to a memorial for Soviet soldiers|
and a few other things along the way! We didn't have a walking tour for Berlin, partly because we already knew a lot about the city and partly because we simply didn't have time. Berlin is a very large city, quite spread out and we went everywhere on the metro or bus so buying a day ticket was essential to keep costs down.
As well as this, there isn't actually very much of 'original Berlin' left. Two world wars and a Soviet-Allied occupation have had quite a destructive effect on the city and much of it was covered in the erecting of new high rises. I felt like the modern world was certainly swallowing Berlin. Additionally, Berlin is full to bursting with memorials; to German soldiers, Soviet soldiers, Gypsy and Roma Holocaust victims, the Jewish community and whilst I think these memorials are important, Berlin felt a little depressing and morbid. I would say generally that neither me nor Molly particularly enjoyed Berlin. After the beautiful Amsterdam, Berlin just felt ugly and bleak, but, the museums were first rate and I could not recommend more the Neues Palais, a highlight of my trip.
|Berlin Wall Open Air Gallery Piece|