To kick off spring break this week, I met my parents in Berlin for the first couple of days. I had an interesting trip to get to the airport actually, I had to first take a city bus, transfer to the subway, and then since the city bus was so late, had to sprint to make it to the charter bus I was taking to the airport. That stress of getting to the second bus on time and having to sprint to meet the bus was pretty tiring in itself. To add to that, the bus driver rear ended a car about halfway to the airport! I guess there wasn’t really any damage because we ended up moving again within a couple of minutes. Everything else about the rest of the trip to Berlin was pretty uneventful which was good.
Our hotel was very close to the Brandenburg Gate which is where a bunch of free walking tours of the city started. We took one of those the first morning we were there to get a quick overview of some of the sights close to our hotel including, the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by the architect Peter Eisenman, and a pair of twin churches. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was an amazing sea of 2711 concrete cubes that vary in physical height and depth in relation to the ground to give you the feeling of aloneness as you descend into the memorial. It was probably one of the top three memorials I have ever been to. After that we walked around Berlin’s government quarter and noticed a large police presence, and saw a large protest going on which we later learned was a neo-Nazi march against
immigration going on. While in the governmental quarter
though we did see some pretty cool (and extremely large) buildings. To finish off the night, we had drinks and dinner in the newly finished Sony Center by Helmut Yahn.
On our second day we made our way over to the museum island and stopped at the Berlin Cathedral whe
re we climbed to the base of the dome for a panoramic view of the city. Later, we went to the Pergamon Museum which housed the original (after reconstruction) Ishtar Gate from Babylon among many other relics from antiquity. We finis
hed off the day by visiting the Fernsehtrum (aka Berlin TV Tower) which is the tallest structure in Germany and second tallest structure in the European Union. By the time we got there and made it to the observation deck it was dark, but it was still cool to see all the lights of Berlin! We also happened to run into two of my classmates in Rome at the tower that also went to Berlin for spring break!
On our last full day in Berlin we had pre booked a trip to go to the dome on top Reichstag building by Norman Foster. The Reichstag building is one of Berlin’s most important governmental buildings. The more recent addition of the dome was an interesting addition to the old Reichstag building because it not only added a contemporary glass dome to the roof, but there is a mirrored needle pointing into a debate space which is supposed eliminate the feeling that their government is run ‘behind closed doors’ and it also brings in more natural light. After that we went to the Bauhaus Archives which was a collection of things produced at the Bauhaus school, which is a school that pretty much defined the modern architecture movement in the 1920-30’s.
You might be wondering if we saw the Berlin Wall, and the answer is yes we did! On our way to the airport we took a quick detour to see part of what is left of the Berlin Wall that has all the paintings on it. Then we made our way to the airport headed to Venice!