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June in Berlin Part 3

Discussion in 'Non Disney Trips and Travels' started by Mags, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    This was our last day in Berlin and the day where we were doing the Third Reich walking tour and the DDR museum. The weather forecast was appalling - rain all day, but we were going to do it. I had planned this for ages and bought the tickets from Viator, so it WAS going to be done. The bags were packed and left at reception and by 9.45 we were off!
    We had to make our way to the U Bahn stop at the Zoological Gardens, which was just beside the main station (our meeting point for the tour).
    The tour guide was easy to find as she had the Original Berlin Walking tours placard. Our guide was Heather, an American and incredibly knowledgeable historian. She had graduated from university in Philadelphia and had then gone to Berlin for 2 years. Having gone back to complete her Masters at Brown University, she missed Berlin so much she had to go back.

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    We started our tour off by heading back on the U Bahn to Mohrenstasse. When we got out we were all taken aback by the beauty of the station. The walls were covered in beautiful red Italian marble, a gift to Hitler from Mussolini. The marble was used to line the walls of Hitler's Chancellory and after the war, when the Chancellory was demolished, this was one of the ways it was used – not my picture BTW.

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    I wont bore you with the details of the tour but will just post photos of the best bits.
    After getting off at Mohrenstrass, we were taken to a number of locations important during the Nazi Era. Heather was so knowledgeable and had so many dates and details buried in that head of hers! I reckon she has done this tour quite a number of times. After moving between several landmarks we came to an area of the city which was one of the most important during the war – Wilhelm Strasse. This was the street where many important Nazi buildings stood, especially the Air Force Ministry building

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    It was built during Hitler's 'reign' but strangely enough was one of the few buildings that survived Allied bombing. I cant believe the allies missed it. It is so large. Seemingly the Germans covered it with blue tarpaulins so that the bombers would believe it was a body of water, and it worked! Those who have seen the film Valkyrie might recognise the building.

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    As we walked up Wilhelm Srasse we stood out of the pouring rain for a few moments at the entrance to a car park. This was where the Prince Albrecht hotel once was and was the hotel frequented by top Nazis. It has long gone, but opposite it is one of the most fascinating and historical spots in Berlin.

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    The area to the left is where the dreaded Gestapo HQ once stood. To the right is one of three pieces of the Berlin wall that now remains, so the are to the right of the picture was once East Berlin and to the right West Berlin. Behind is a building (the name of which I cant remember) but one with the most beautiful gilt and I believe it is being restored.

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    f you look closely you can see lots of bullet holes and shrapnel marks, a result of the ferocious final Battle of Berlin.

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    The foundations of the Gestapo HQ are now being unearthed

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    and a very poignant memorial (called the Topography of Terrors) is being built. At the moment there is a series of hoardings explaining the horrors of the war such as the death camps, the persecution of the Jews and stories about those who braved the regime.

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    It was hard going trying to take all this in as the rain fell, Florida style on our backs! There was such a lot to take in, but it was all tragically fascinating.
    While we were there I couldnt help but take a photo of an old fashioned East German Trebant perched on a pillar.

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    and the Die Welt balloon which usually flies over the city but was grounded because of the weather.

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    As we moved on and changed stations again we came to a building which looks very 60s and modern, or so I thought. It wasnt built in the 60s but in the late 20s and was part of the Barhaus movement. Seemingly Hitler hated it as he was into classical designs fit for a Reich.
     
  2. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    As we moved on and changed stations again we came to a building which looks very 60s and modern, or so I thought. It wasnt built in the 60s but in the late 20s and was part of the Barhaus movement. Seemingly Hitler hated it as he was into classical designs fit for a Reich.

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    This is the remaining frontage to one of Berlin's oldest and most beautiful stations. I cant remember
    the name, but not only was it bombed but it went into decline when East and West were divided. Berliners fought long and hard to preserve the remainder. It must have been really beautiful in its prime.

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    Off we went on the train again, this time to Potsdamer Platz and an area of the city we thought we knew well. As we walked up towards the Reichstag we turned off on to a side street. We stopped to take a photo of the Bundersrat, the second seat of government. It is amazing just how much vacant land there is in Berlin still waiting to be developed.

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    As we walked a little further we came to a totally non descript piece of land (now a car park and childrens' play area

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    This in fact is where Hitler spent the last days of the war, in the bunker 30ft below ground under the Chancellory. The bunker was done away with in order to stop any kind of hero worship. Where the blue car is, just about marks the spot where Hitler took his own life.

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    This was the end of what was a fantastic tour and at only £10 each it was the best value of the holiday. I would advise anyone who goes to Berlin not to miss out on this one. We left Heather, giving her a good tip and she did appreciate it.
    We walked up towards the Holocaust memorial where there is a line of cafes.
    We decide we wanted a German meal to end our holiday, so we sat down and ordered. Michael went for another Currywurst monstrosity and I had sautéed potatoes with sauerkraut and sausage.

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    The heavens opened as we sat outside and ate but that was OK because we were covered by an awning and umbrella.

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    I decide to move next door to Dunkin Donuts for a quick cup of coffee and then we walked back to the U Bahn to get across town to the DDR museum
    I had been looking forward to this as my son had been last year and loved it.

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    We managed to get very lost around Alexanders Platz but a very helpful German gave us directions down to the banks of the Spree and in 10 minutes we were there.

    It is right beside the Berlin Cathedral or Dom. In many ways I wish we had gone there instead.
     
  3. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    The DDR Museum is a hands on museum outlining East German life during the communist era. It was a wet day and the owners just piled the pundits in until it was bursting. I am really into museums but I honestly didnt enjoy the layout of this place or the way the exhibits were displayed. It took us all of 30 mims to get around and neither Michael or I enjoyed it. Thank goodness we only paid 4 euros each.
    After the disappointment of the museum we decided we just had to have one last cup of German coffee and some cheesecake.

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    It was delicious and this little guy decided to join us too.

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    As we walked back to the station, we came across this lovely traditional toy shop.

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    We arrived back at the hotel to collect our cases and had a sandwich before heading back on the U Bahn and S Bahn to the airport. After a delayed flight we arrived back at Stansted at 1am. We had had a fabulous 3 days in Berlin – much better than last year, and know that we will definitely return to this great city again some day.

    Margaret
     
  4. Deb
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    Deb Serious Forum Regular

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    Mags, I have read all three of your Berlin trip reports and have thoroughly enjoyed them, and the photos are fab. DH has been wanting to go to Berlin for a while, and I haven't been bothered. Now I want to go....that last tour you described sound fascinating and touching, and the visit to parliament a must. That blue car that marks the spot.... Thanks!:thumbsup:
     

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