Let’s go to Berlin!

I wrote this for a travel website some time ago but they seem to have absconded into cyberspace with it. Since I have zero creative energy today I’ll post it here.

Berlin is an amazing city. The historical and the modern day meet on the streets. Whenever I’ve visited Berlin I’ve always gotten a feeling of many cultures coming together to form their own unique culture. I’ve never felt like a visitor but more like a resident because there are so many people from so many places everywhere you go.

Central to Germany history Berlin has a lot to offer. The famous Berlin Wall still stands in one section of the city just as it did when it was built. It is here that you can learn the reason the wall was built, how it was built and the sacrifices that occurred because of its existence. The site itself is under construction, a new museum and information center is being built, but along the outside perimeter are large reader boards giving the timeline and history.

You can also see sections of the wall that were relocated to Potsdamer Platz. The original placement of the wall is outlined with stones in the ground and you’ll find them running all over Berlin marking the former division of the city.

Checkpoint Charlie is a small white hut in the middle of the road which at first glance is underwhelming. But as you look up you’ll see the original sign telling people they were leaving the American Sector. Spend a few minutes here thinking about the magnitude of the signs’ meaning. Near Checkpoint Charlie there is a museum with more information. Due to the nature of the subject matter displayed it is not designed for children so keep that in mind if you plan to visit.

At Potsdamer Platz there is a very modern feel of the New Berlin and you’ll find lots of shops and restaurants at the Sony Center under a glass dome. It’s a great place to sit and enjoy a coffee and some strudel. In winter the decorations are impressive. The entrance to the LegoLand Center can be found here. Around the corner take a break at Vapiano’s for lunch. Choose an outdoor table to enjoy some people watching. This is the best way to feel like a local and truly experience Germany. Eating outside, no matter the weather is one of my favorite pastimes.

From Potsdamer Platz walk down Elberstr and you will pass the Holocaust Memorial and the grey slabs of concrete rising out of the ground like a cemetery. At different heights and varying sizes just walking among them shrouded from light and other people it is an experience that is humbling. Underneath is the information center. At the end of this street you’ll find Brandenburger Tor or the Brandenburg Gate. It was one of the main gates of the city and the square behind the gate is filled with embassies. The buildings are beautiful to look at.

The Reichstag, home to the German parliament is along the Spree River. The building itself is beautiful and there is a glass dome inside. The lines are almost always very long to get inside so I suggest walking around to the other side of the building. Across the river sits a very modern white building, the Bundeskanzleramt which houses the chancellor’s office and residence. The dichotomy of the old and new can truly be seen by viewing these two buildings at the same time.

There are plenty of museums in Berlin not only museums of history but also plenty containing works of art and other objects. From the Old National Library where you can see an original piece of Beethoven’s sheet music to the National Gallery housing works of art from the 19th century. The Pergamon Museum hosts art from Greek, Middle Eastern and Roman eras among others and is worth a visit.

Berlin is a city where I could easily spend a week and still not see all of it. The rich culture and history of Germany lives in the city and in the people who call this place home. Every time I’ve gone to Berlin I’ve discovered a new reason to fall in love with the city. Visit Berlin today and find your reason to fall in love.