A City Both Old and New!
Tonight is our last night in Berlin and we have enjoyed the last four days exploring this vibrant and energetic city, which is a mixture of old and new. Being in Berlin, really brought home to me how isolated and insulated we are in New Zealand and Australia, from the whims and politics that can shape countries in drastic ways. Two world wars, as well as the many changes in the centuries prior to those events, have built these complex and intertwined cultures and countries, and no where is that more evident than in Berlin. The division of a city, and the lack of development that occurred because of this, meant that in the last 27 years, since the wall came down, there has been an explosion of growth and development! Potsdamer Platz is an example of this, where 25 years ago it was a wasteland between east and west Berlin, and now is full of new buildings and a thriving centre of shopping and business. Its hard to believe that none of those buildings were there such a short time ago! We spent quite a bit of time exploring the places where the Berlin wall had segregated the people and a country. The Berlin Wall Memorial gives you a small perspective of what it must have been like, and how the wall developed from a space either side and a barbed wire fence to a series of walls and defences designed to keep the people from the east crossing over to the west. So many people lost their lives trying to make their escape and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum showed many of the ingenious ways that people tried and did actually succeed. The East Side Gallery, where artists were invited to have painted pictures on the remaining section of wall in 1990, is iconic, and well worth the walk. There are only small sections of the wall remaining, but a row of cobblestones has been laid where it was placed and it snakes through the city, intersecting streets and pavements and we crossed or followed it many times during our days here. The older buildings that have survived, and have been rebuilt in some cases, are beautiful and imposing. Museum island, with its collection of amazing art, antiquities and history, as well as placement in the centre of the city and surrounded by the River Spree is well worth a visit. The Reichstag and the Berliner Dom, as well as the Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower, Hackescher Market, the Tiergarten and the many other sights, have made our visit to Berlin very special. And of course there has been Beer and more Beer, Currywurst sausages, more street food and riding the trams, S Bahn and U Bahn as we make our way from one place to another...walking A LOT...and sometimes getting a little bit lost in the process of finding our way. Tomorrow, we board our last train back to Amsterdam where we will spend one more night before flying back home. Its been a blast!