Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Sightseeing in Berlin

Berlin was a great, vibrant choice to spend a few days in following our trip to Vienna.  While missing most of the Viennese grandeur, the modern museums and memorials, great food and delicious coffee were a nice change. We stayed on the edge of the Kreuzberg district, in what was the edge of West Berlin (we were about 100m back from Checkpoint Charlie). 

A couple of sightseeing highlights were the DDR Museum and the Berlin Wall Memorial, both new additions to Berlin since I was last here in 2004.

The DDR Museum is a small museum, full of displays and exhibits about daily life in East Germany, without any romanticism.  Highly engaging, with hands on exhibits (including a challenge to run a factory in accordance with Soviet dictates).  Life was very bland, and homogenous, in East Germany. Some of the highlights included a Trabi (car), that felt like it was made of plastic but was the real deal (as the real deal was mostly made of plastic) and, a really great interactive apartment including some clothes, food and other bits and pieces that people were allowed.  There’s a great range of artefacts – and the focus on ordinary life makes it all very relatable. 

The Berlin Wall Memorial runs 1.4km along where the wall was, across the remnants of a cemetery which was dismantled in favour of the wall and other security measures. The memorial is made up of pieces of the wall, left in place, and markers to complete the length.  The old walls of the cemetery are still visible, as is the top of the church spire which was broken off when the East Germans blew up the church.  The new chapel is a beautiful, modern structure, made of earth and wooden slabs, which let light in.  It’s a functioning parish, as well as a memorial site.  There is a lengthy wall of victims, including the children, and a guard tower remains standing in a walled off area.  

We also enjoyed seeing a number of the Buddy Bears on the streets – not particularly interested in the Nivea one, but some of the others were cool, like this one .

There was also a good amount of street art in the area we were staying – though some of it had been defaced. 

I really liked how the art was all around - regardless of area

And how the art worked on different surfaces. 

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