Summer of 2015. We travelled by train (about 6 hours from Groningen) to Berlin. It was middle of summer and Berlin was pleasantly warmer than Groningen – perfect weather for exploring the city. Our first stop, the Berlin wall – and the sad message written on a surviving section of the wall. When the wall was put up to stop the defections of Berliners in the East to the West, families and loved ones were separated and the graffiti in the walls remind us of their sentiments in those difficult times.
We next visited the Berliner Dom. We scaled the Dom walkway to be rewarded with wonderful views and beehives at the rooftop of the Cathedral. The rooftop of the Cathedral is one of the many places in Berlin which are part of the Berlin summt! initiative – promoting urban beekeeping.
One can also see the TV tower from the Berliner Dom. The queue to climb up the tower was quiet long though. There is an option to book a table in the restaurant or just have a look around the tower. We did the latter – for a 360 degree view of the city.
We also had a chance to visit the Museum Island, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site for the collection of buildings and cultural artifacts. Among the many museums (Pergamon, Altes), we decided to check out the Neueus museum as we are all interested in the ancient Egypt – and the collection at the Neueus museum was impressive. Joel is pretty sure there is some truth to the stories of ancient Egyptians as aliens from other planets – Joel was convinced it must be true! how else would you explain the elongated heads?
Next stop was the Reichstag building. The Reichstag was constructed to house the Imperial Diet. Entrance to the Reichstag Dome is for free but you have to book it online. The Dome is transparent and one can look down below to see the debating chamber. The Dome symbolizes that the people are above the government and I guess, it being transparent literally means transparency in governance.
We’ve also met up with a friend who is doing her postgraduate studies in Berlin and who is just happy to give us a short history tour. We met up near the Reichstag and took a walk towards Brandenburg Gate. Along the way, we passed by the Roma (Gypsy) Nazi Holocaust victims memorial and ended up in the Jewish Holocaust memorial. The Holocaust memorial was like a graveyard of cubic gray slabs. Also structured, ordered which to me seems to symbolize the cold, mechanical murder of the Jews by the millions. We passed by a parking lot and our friend pointed out Hitler maybe buried somewhere there, she wasn’t sure exactly. But that Hitler was buried in an unmarked grave. Contrast that to how in my country, Marcos, the dictator who bled my country dry was just recently buried in our National Heroes’ Cemetery. How easily we have forgotten. In Berlin however, with the numerous memorial sites which are centrally located, its people are constantly reminded of history and its lessons.
For kids there are a lot of fun places to visit in Berlin. There’s the German Museum of Technology, with an extensive (25,000 sq.m) collection. A whole day may not be enough to explore all the exhibits. I’m particularly impressed by the large collection in their railway transport exhibit. There’s also the Natural History Museum, with huge dinosaur bone exhibits. One which interested the kids the most is their taxidermy masterpieces – rightfully so because they were very lifelike. Check out that big spider!
We only stayed for a week in Berlin and it wasn’t enough time to explore the rest of the city. We still wanted to see more of Berlin – slowly next time, just hanging out in its cafes, its gardens, playgrounds.