Everyone raves about Berlin. It’s the new ‘cool’ European city. I just didn’t love it. I didn’t not love it in the same way as Amsterdam, but I just didn’t love it. Stu and I both felt like we were kind of missing something in Berlin.
It was a lovely enough city, very concrete and stark (but to be expected after basically being levelled in the War). We felt that everything was quite spread out and it was kind of inconvenient to get around. It had some really lovely attractions but we just didn’t feel the way about Berlin that everyone else seems to!
(By the way, this is part 8 in my series of Europe Photo Diaries. You can catch up on the previous posts here.)
One of the first places we visited in Berlin was Checkpoint Charlie. This was the best known crossing point on the Berlin Wall between the East and West sides of Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of both the tumultuous history, as well as the unity and peace, of Europe and Germany. It was recently restored from the damage done during the Second World War. It’s probably the most recognisable German landmark and it was pretty cool to see it.
The East Side Gallery was one of my favourite thing in Berlin. It is decorated with art on the East Side (the Russian/USSR side) of the Berlin Wall (hence the name) and is 1.3km long. It’s a bit sad that people have graffitied these art works, especially given what the East Side Gallery stands for. It’s such a powerful experience being there and seeing it. I was only two when the Berlin Wall came down, but my husband remembers watching the news and seeing the Berlin Wall coming down so I think it was an especially powerful visit for him.
I did like certain parts of the architecture in Berlin, mostly the older parts I think. It was actually pretty cool (and sad at the same time) seeing bullet holes still visible in the walls of some buildings.
The museums were my other favourite thing about Berlin. Museum Island – how could I not love it! We went to all the museums here. I love Egyptian history, I have since I was a little kid so seeing the Neues Museum was a real treat for me! The museum is largely made up of Egyptian artefacts, including the famous bust of Nefertiti (no picture of that though, not allowed!!).
We also went to the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) which was really interesting. The pre war part of the museum was really beautiful and showcased the great cultural part of Germany’s history. The part of the museum from the Franco-Prussian War onwards (so First and Second World Wars) was really interesting. This was my first time seeing the story of the wars from the ‘other’ side and it was fascinating to see how German museums portray what happened versus how the ‘Allied’ side see it. There was a lot of thought provoking commentary, some acceptance of blame, and some glossing over of historical facts. But I can’t imagine anything harder than coming to grips with that part of your national history and actually telling that story in a national museum. It was actually really interesting to see and made both Stu and I think very deeply about it. Given that we are both history buffs, and he works at the War Memorial we were always going to look at this part of the museum with a critical eye but it was a really interesting visit and I would highly recommend the museum to anyone visiting Berlin.
This was the most random thing we saw in Berlin – beach chairs in the middle of a square for people to sun bake and drink beer. So bizarre. (There were people sitting to the left of this picture in bikinis and shorts but I thought it would be rude to photograph them without their permission).
So that was our time in Berlin – lots of museums! Like I said, we weren’t in love with Berlin, but we appreciated and enjoyed it. We didn’t get to the Holocaust Memorial which we both would have liked to see, but we were only in Berlin for 2 nights so our time was pretty limited. Maybe one day we’ll go back to Berlin and maybe we’ll have a different experience.
Next up is the Czech Republic – which I absolutely loved!!
Have you been to Berlin? What was your experience like?
I’ve broken my Europe trip up into easy to manage pieces, otherwise I’ll be drowning you in hundreds of images at once! So you know what’s coming, I’ve prepared a list of the 24 parts of this series:
Part 1: London
Part 2: Cambridge
Part 3: Paris
Part 4: Amiens
Part 5: Battlefields
Part 6: Ieper (Ypres)
Part 7: Amsterdam
Part 8: Berlin
Part 9: Prague
Part 10: Cesky Krumlov
Part 11: Vienna
Part 12: Salzburg
Part 13: Venice
Part 14: Pesaro
Part 15: Amalfi Coast
Part 16: Pompeii
Part 17: Rome
Part 18: Florence
Part 19: Tuscany
Part 20: La Spezia
Part 21: Lyon
Part 22: Loire Valley
Part 23: Normandy
Part 24: Mont St Michel
Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to know about any of these places and I’ll try to include it in my post!