September 4th and 5th, 2002
Wednesday morning we catch the 8:00 am train to Berlin, Germany. Well, in case you don't know, Denmark is separated from the rest of central Europe by water. We weren't quite sure the path the train would take to Berlin, but we bought the tickets and loaded on along with everybody else. The train route was very pretty. We ended up going back to the west (Copenhagen is on the East side of Denmark) and then to the South. We crossed one small body of water on a beautiful bridge with sailboats out on the water. Then we as we neared the end of the road, literally, the train announcer came on and announced we would be loading on the ferry. Well it was really cool! The train drove right onto the ferry, people and all!!! Then as the ferry went across the sea (40 mins) we could get out of the train and go upstairs to the top decks for sightseeing. As we docked on German soil, the train drove off the boat and we were on our way again. After a short train change in Hamburg, we pulled into Berlin about 3:00 in the afternoon. Since we only had a day and a half in Berlin, my sister and I came up with a game plan to see as much of Berlin as possible. After scheduling a room through the tourist information booth, we set off walking.
First stop was the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche (that's church to me and you) built in 1852 in the Romanesque-Byzantine style and destroyed by WWII bombs. The top of the church spire is jagged and torn apart, but the inside that is left has beautiful tile work on the floor and walls. The inside has pictures of the devastation of the war in that area and a few artifacts salvaged from that time.
Next we walked past the zoo and through the park to the Siegessaule (victory
column). This tall column (285 steps to the top) commemorates the Prussian
victories over Denmark, Austria, and France in 1864-1870 with a winged golden
figure at the top. From the top, we thoroughly enjoyed a great view all around
From here, we headed east to the Brandenburger Tor. This is Berlin's only
remaining city gate which was situated in the "no man's land" just behind
the Berlin Wall. It is an absolutely huge sandstone construction with old
columns and a horse drawn chariot carrying the goddess of victory on top
At this point it was getting late and we were tired. We started walking
through East side of Berlin looking for a good place to eat. It was
amazing how the upscale shops and cafes lined the streets. It was only
in 1989 that the wall was torn down, but looking around it's hard to
believe this was such a place of poverty and devastation. As we meandered
along, we came across the Gendarmenmarkt (Constables Square) which is
lined by the Franzosische Dom and Deutsche Dom (French and German Cathedral)
and Schauspielhaus concert hall (built 1818-21). The buildings were
absolutely beautiful, but since it was so late we could not go inside.
Oh well, instead we sat down and relaxed at dinner.
A little side note about the place we stayed in... the bathroom was not en-suite (in the room), but instead girls was right outside our door and guys was way on the other side of the building. Well the group of people in the room next to us decided that the mens room was too much hassle to get to. So the first night, my sister walks into the bathroom in time to surprise one of the guys who is walking out still zipping up his pants! He was quite embarrassed. It was too funny. Then the next morning, the guys were hogging the bathroom showers (at least they had the brains to lock the door this time). The place had a great breakfast included in the price of the room. We had all you can eat meats, cheeses, breads, yogurt, cereal, coffee, and tea!
Thursday morning we had breakfast and headed off for the Schloss
Charlottenburg. Berlin has a pretty good subway system, so we took that
around town on Thursday (bus system is also supposed to be good but we
didn't use it). The Schloss Charlottenburg is a Baroque palace
commissioned by Friedrich I for his second wife, Sophie-Charlotte in
1699 and expanded in 1712. The inside was setup like a museum showing
the furnishings, paintings, and porcelain. In back of the palace was
ornate grounds with ponds, footbridges, and a mausoleum. The mausoleum
had the most spectacular statues. They were so life like that you thought
they would get up at any minute and the carvings representing fabric looked
so smooth and real.
Anyway, our next stop was Checkpoint Charlie, which
was the checkpoint between the American and Soviet sectors of Berlin.
There is a little booth in the middle of the street which was used as the
checkpoint and a sign warning that you are leaving the American sector.
On the other side, they have a little plaque on the ground noting were the
wall was located. There is also a little exhibition that has a giant
collage of artworks, newspaper clippings, and photographs, along with
all types of devices used to get over, under, or through the wall.
Just down the street from here, we actually found a Schlotzsky's
(only one I've seen in all of Europe so far)! So of course, we had to
stop to eat lunch.
(Postcard Picture of past)
After lunch we headed to the East Side Gallery. Now I have to tell you
that this is nothing more then 1.3 km of the remaining part of the wall
which separated the east from the west. Located in an industrial looking
part of Berlin, there is little else to see in the area. The wall now
has graffiti all over it and many of the paintings have worn away, but
it's eerie to stand in front of it.
Our final stop for the day was the Berliner Dom. This was the largest
protestant cathedral in Germany, built 1894-1905 in the style of Italian
renaissance. The arches had intricate tiled mosaics and the interior
houses the crypt of Hohenzollern dynasty.
Pictures from the top of the Berlin Dom
Unfortunately, a few of these pictures are from postcards! Evidentally
(I didn't know this when we started), my sister and her fiance have a
disease called Bad Camera Karma. Every time they take pictures something
either happens to the camera or film. Anyway, the voodoo worked this time
too, because all of the pictures on the digital camera went bye-bye!
First they were there and then they were gone. Of course, my sister's
fiance had the camera in his hand when it happened so from that point on
we managed to work it into the conversation whenever the opportunity arose!
Like, "hey that looks just like the building we took a picture of in
Copenhagen... oh yeah, that's right we don't have that picture anymore"!
Since it was late and we were leaving the next day, we decided that the
next best thing was to get postcards of all the places in Berlin. So like
good little tourist, off we run to the gift shops to pick out postcards
just like the pictures.
(One year later, on July 25th and 26th, 2003 I returned to Berlin with my mother and husband. Many of the pictures you see here were taken at that time!)
After the shops we had picked a place in our
travel book for dinner. Well one hour later, one train ride, five blocks,
and we still hadn't found the restaurant. We end up in front of a bus stop
map arguing which way to go. Finally, this lady sitting at the stop says
"can I help you?" So, we tell her where we want to go and ask if it's
good (book says authentic German food). The lady makes a face and says
"if that's what you want". So then we tell her what the book says and she
just laughs and says "well we don't eat that, we eat all the other kinds
of food which are much better"! So she tells us about an Italian place,
Chinese place, and a beer garden. First one we come to is the beer garden
but it's closed for a private party, so we end up at the Italian place.
The locals always know best, it was a very tasty dinner!
The Berlin Bears Say Goodbye!
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