Berlin is a vibrant, youthful, energetic, evolving city. It is more than its past and, although history looms large here, it is redefining itself and moving forward quickly into the future.
We settled in here quickly, once again finding an apartment in a neighborhood outside of downtown. A place where we could get a sense of the city and it’s people. I love the densification of cities, and our neighborhood was a good example. Streets lined with small 5 story apartment blocks whose ground floors held bakeries, cafes, pubs, corner stores and various shops. The grocery store was just down the block and the cutest little pub ever was between it and home…yes, seriously dangerous!! Getting to the sights was no problem as the metro was only a 5 minute walk away and on it, and the busses, we could easily get where ever we liked.
We started our visit with a walking tour of the city. Walking tours are our favorite as they get us into the city and let us interact with the guide and other participants on a level that bus tours do not. During this tour we got a sense of the size and scope of the city and some very valuable history lessons (our guide, although American, had studied German history for 10 years…she knew a lot!!).
The next day we returned to town to get a better look at some of the sights and to visit the German History Museum. A great museum, even if overwhelmingly large – I enjoyed it, and learned a lot (which wasn’t too hard as my German history was lacking). Berlin has many other museums and galleries displaying numerous exhibits that are famous perhaps worth visiting, but I am in Germany and so decided to focus on German history and exhibits. We’ll view Roman or Greek or other artifacts if and when we visit those countries.
We also visited the Reistag with its impressive glass and mirror dome (symbolizing transparency in government). It is lined with a spiraling walkway to the top where great views of the city can be had. The audio guide was worth it (well, for one it was free) as it explained all the sights that could be seen. Moreover, the climb was a good chance to play with our reflections in the mirrored column in the center of the dome.
We took two day trips out of the city:
On Sunday we visited Potsdam with a bike tour. Potsdam is a beautiful refuge from the city with stunning buildings and gardens but really, for us, it was all about the bikes. We had a blast riding around on the cruiser bikes through the old city and, although it poured rain, we had smiles on our faces the whole day.
On Tuesday we visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. A more somber outing but a worthwhile one.