Germany, two days in Berlin, 2013

In 2013, I took a trip to Germany to meet up with my lovely wife Trudy. We’d been dating long distance for a while and I was really looking forward to meeting up with her in her home country. It was my second trip there but it would be my first time in Berlin. On long flights and especially in the cramped quarters that passes for coach these days, it’s a good idea to wear your compression socks, whether you’re at risk of DVT or not. We started using these a few years ago and never fly without them, we especially love the ones from SBSox (affiliate link) After Trudy picked me up from the airport, we checked in at the Berlin Marriott close to Potsdamer Platz where we relaxed for a few hours. With fresh legs, we head to the city. We tried to see as many sights as possible in the short time we had due to the fact that on the next day, we had a three hour drive ahead of us to Trudy’s hometown of Helmbrechts.

Outside the Berlin Mariott hotel.
Berlin bear outside the Mariott hotel.

After our arrival, we only had half a day so we started exploring the city sights that were close to our hotel.

Brandenburg Gate is quite impressive.
US Embassy.
Outside the US Embassy.
The Hotel Adlon, luxurious five star hotel located just steps away from the Brandenburg Gate.

For lunch, Trudy had the famous Berlin Currywurst and I had the fried Semmelknoedel (bread dumplings) It’s always exciting to try the different cuisines when travelling.

Since our time in the city was limited, the next day we took the hop on, hop off bus from Potsdamer Platz and began our own city tour.
Some sections of the Berlin wall near Potsdamer Platz.
Berlin Cathedral.
Relaxing in Lustgarten Park, great way to spend a summer day.
Der Deutschen Kunst, National Gallery of Art.
Bridge on the river Spree.
Cruising on the Spree river in Berlin.

We visited the Topographie des Terrors which is an indoor outdoor museum that chronicles the atrocities the Nazis inflicted upon the European Jews. The site used to house the headquarters of the Gestapo. There’s a large section of the Berlin wall still standing here.

Memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, a very solemn place for quiet reflection.
Berlin wall.
Many more walls need to be toppled.

After World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors administered by the US, France, UK and the Soviet Union. Checkpoint Charlie in the US sector was a border crossing between East and West Germany for the Allied forces. It’s also the place of the 1961 stand off between American and Russian tanks. We visited the open air exhibition which shows in great detail the history of the area.

US sector, Checkpoint Charlie.

As we walked around the city, I couldn’t help but notice these pink pipes running throughout. I thought it was some kind of cool art installation. I was told that since the ground water level is so high in the city, during construction of new buildings, the basement sites tend to flood and the water has to be pumped to the canals or river by way of those pipes. Apparently, the area on which the city now sits used to be swamp and marsh lands hence the high ground water.

Lots of different ways to get around town. The “hop on, hop off” bus is also a great option if you don’t have a lot of time in the city. We ended up doing a lot of walking anyway which is what we generally do, obviously having great shoes is essential. Paired with the right socks makes for a comfortable day, love those Balegas (affiliate link)

Built mainly for East Germans, these simple, low quality 25 hp two cylinder Trabant cars are now just a novelty. Just imagine having to be on a waiting list for ten years or more to get one of these cars back then. These days, you can do a one and a half hour self drive city tour with guide for about $60.00

There are so many historic buildings and not enough time to see them all.

CDU-Fraktion im Abgeordnetenhaus, (political party, offices of state representatives.
The Reichstag building now houses the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament)
Neue Kirche or new church dates back to the early 1700’s, was Calvinist and Lutheran, later Protestant and now serves as museum of German Parliamentary history.
St Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church)
Rotes Rathaus (town hall) near the Berlin TV tower in Alexander Platz
Plattenbauten, cheap high rise buildings were common in East Germany.
We dined on some great Indian curry before hitting the road.
Leaving Berlin, Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin is such a fun city but you obviously need more than a couple of days. We definitely want to go back and explore more at a not so hurried pace. We say “auf wiedersehen” for now. Check out this video of the drive from Berlin.

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