Last week, I headed over to Berlin for a few days as a bit of an end of summer getaway. Neither of us had been before, but with her deep interest in German history and my interest in, well, getting out of Nottingham, we were definitely looking forward to the trip.
We got there late at night, headed to the airport's train station and tried to figure out what the hell we were doing. After probably a bit too long we finally made it to the city centre, in the rain, where we got lost. Obviously. Sooo we got a taxi which took us the two blocks we had to walk... turns out I thought our hostel was 2 miles in the other direction. Strangely I still took charge of the map for the rest of the trip...
The first couple of days were the main history days. We had a list of sights & museums we wanted to see and headed off bright and early to explore.
Having dropped my history studies age 13 my knowledge is severely lacking. I know quite a lot about the Holocaust thanks to RS lessons, but knew very, very little about East & West Germany and the Berlin Wall before we went. After going to Checkpoint Charlie, the Stasi Museum and the DDR Museum I've definitely improved.
The Holocaust Memorial is one of the reasons I wanted to go to Berlin. I've seen so many photographs of it and it always looked worth visiting, but I never really imagined the size of it, or really appreciated the design.
Claire's written essays on the Memorial and we wanted through the narrow paths in between the concrete blocks as she told me all about what everything represented.
Apparently, the architect Peter Eisenman used the concrete blocks of varying sizes to represent the inexplicableness (is that a word?!) of the events. You may ask "how does that represent what happened?", but his idea is basically that nothing could ever really show portray it.
Some of the paths go up and down; this combined with the different heights of the blocks makes people 'disappear' as you watch someone from the side, a clever way of representing the vast number of disappearances that took place.
In the evening we went to the Reichstag, the main Parliament building.
We'd disregarded it, but a few friends told us we absolutely haaad to go.
I'm so glad they did, I was extremely impressed.
From the bottom, the Reichstag looks like many other large, important buildings - to be honest, not the kind I'm ever that interested in looking round.
We headed straight into the lift to the top of the building, picked up an audio guide, and walked into this.
It's big. It's all glass. You can see all the important sights, and as you walk along the audio guide stops you in all the important places.
Inside, running down the centre and into the main Parliament building is a mirrored 'cone' reflecting the light
This cone is hollow and lets the water from a big hole in the roof down into the main building; the dome also overlooks the debating chamber.
I feel like I should be better at describing this, but I'm not. It's an amazing design, one of the best I've seen. If you go to Berlin, go into the dome. It's free, but you should book a slot before you go. I'm just going to let a few photos do the talking...
After marvelling for quiiite a while, we headed out to the roof terrace. We'd perfectly timed our visit so that we could see the sights in the daylight and then the sunset.
(I'm a sucker for a good sunset)
We wandered back, stopping for some dinner along the way, to the roof terrace bar of our hostel. A great first day, but we were absolutely shattered!
I'll post about the rest of the trip soon. A lot's going on at the moment - I've managed to get a job down in Exeter so I'm moving back down to the South West next week! Which is good for this blog since Devon is a lottt prettier than Nottingham!