My Life as a Traveler

Hitting the Wall, Part 2

One day left in Berlin; flying home tomorrow. Since we didn’t see the sights yesterday, we are starting early today. Morgan is better and we are hitting the wall today, the Berlin Wall, that is.

First, we visit the Reichstag, Germany’s House of Representatives. Burned mysteriously right after Hitler became Chancellor, it members of the opposing Communist party were blamed, jailed, and then were the first sent to the concentration camps. It is recently rebuilt with a modern clear dome. On top, looking around, you can see the entire city, looking down, you can see the members of the Bundestag as they vote bills into law.

Next, we go to Germany’s Holocaust memorial, also new to the city. Looks like graves from the street, but when you wander between them, you find it’s a dark maze. We move on to the “Topography of Terror”, where Hitler’s bunker and the headquarters of the SS were located. Just an empty lot with some rubble, it’s the first time we actually see what’s left of the Berlin Wall, running down the street. This area was bombed to smithereens at the end of the war, so there’s not much left.

We follow the footprint of the wall to Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous gate in the wall between West Germany and East Germany. There’s a little museum here, built on the Western side, opened in 1962, right after the wall went up, documenting the travesty of the wall and the different ways people have escaped through it.

After an excellent lunch of pho (soup) at Viet Bowl, it’s museum time. I bought a museum pass yesterday and the goal is to get to as many as we can for the rest of the day. Here’s where we went and the high points:

  • The Jewish Museum, which not only documents the Holocaust, but the lives of Jewish people since the time before Christ. The Holocaust memorial is quiet and a little creepy.
  • The New Museum, which has a 3000 year old sculpture, a model of Queen Nefertiti, in full color.
  • The Pergamon Museum, where they have moved entire temples from Greece and Babylon and built a museum with an extra-high roof to accommodate them.

We close them out at 6pm, and then make one last trip to the outskirts of the city to see the Berlin Wall East Side Art Gallery, a part of the wall that they left standing and now adorned with paintings from artists from all over the world. Very cool.

We get back to the hotel. George is working and Morgan is not sure he wants to go out to dinner. I must go out tonight, my last night of this fantastic European trip, and I’m dining alone if I have to. Morgan changes his mind, and we go out for the meat platter at the local pub. In the German restaurant, a Spanish singer plays for us. We have berries and vanilla sauce for dessert and go back to the hotel to pack, happy.

Glad we hit the wall today!

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