Berlin: Monday; Retrospective

This entry isn’t finished yet, and I don’t know if I will. I let too much time pass between exporing Berlin and writing this and it just sounds boring. Berlin was a nice place, but not all that exciting.

As I’m walking around during my days I usually end up coming up wiht a first line for the day’s post. Something catchy. Something will draw the reader in and make them want to cuddle up to the post. I assure you that on Monday in Berlin I had a great one and you would be immediately enthralled. Unfortunately it’s Wednesday now and I’ve had like no sleep or food in three days so you are going to have to deal with this rather limp paragraph.

I woke up leisurely and cleaned up for my first day in Berlin. I didn’t really have a plan but the place seemed so inviting I wasn’t really worried about it. From the walk the night before I knew there was a Dunkin Donuts right down the street and I intended to raid it. I had a nice breakfast outside, and was feeling pretty good so I started walking. The only thing I really knew I wanted to do in Berlin was see the wall but I knew there was a lot more to do, so I finally decided to take an official tour.

Right outside the Dunkin Donuts there were tour busses lined up but they were all empty so I went and walked. There are a couple big train stations in Berlin. The Hbf (Hauptbahnhauf) which is the new, swanky central station that just opened, ZOO which the Zoological Gardens station and others which don’t much come into this story. Hbf is where I arrived the night before from Paris and ZOO was the closest station to where I was sleeping.

I walked over to ZOO to kick around a bit and saw a red tour bus parked on the corner that had some people in it. EU 20 later I had a seat on top and we started rolling.

The tour was really kind of boring, but we did circle pretty much the entire city and it gave me a chance to get my bearings. I saw some places I definitely wanted to go back to so once the tour ended I rode back to Hbf and started walking. The main things I wanted to see were the remains of the Berlin wall, the museum area, the book burning monument, which they said was supposed to light up at night and a really nice looking park on the west side.

Right across from the Hbf is the river and a nice river front park area. Walked past all that and heading west towards the residential section and the big park I had seen from the tour bus. The park is huge, and very nice. Right in the middle of the city. There were tons of people out sunbathing (usually nude) but not many people walking so I just walked and walked. It was a nice respite after the business of Paris and I stopped a few times just to chill out. Boring eh? It gets better.

The walk to the park, and then eventually back to my hotel was really pretty long, although not much happened. I was kind of beat and, of course, sweating my ass off so I went back to my hotel and showered and chilled out a bit. I kind of wanted to let the sun go down some more before heading east to the wall and other points. I’m telling you, I hate the sun.

Once I had cooled off a bit I decided to check out the subway. Thus far I had been riding only on the main trains in Berlin. There are a few different types of trains there. The Regional Express trains, which are fast but only stop at a few distant places and don’t very often, the S-Bahn which is the above ground “city” trains, and the U-Bahn which is the subway. I had mostly been using the S-Bahn but I love subways so I decided to head to east Berlin via the U-Bahn.

By the way, I don’t know if they take offense or not, but they don’t call it east and west Berlin anymore. Generally if they make the distinction they say “Former east Berlin”

I made my first stop the wall, and the monument area that is around it. They have put up a sort of park with information about what went on called the Topography of Terror. The remains of the wall itself are only 50 meters long. That’s all that’s left of it. That portion is surrounded by a fence that keeps you about 2 meters from the wall. People still want to take a piece home with them and if they didn’t protect it it would be completly gone instantly

The wall was interesting to see, because I remember when it came down and all the excitement associated with it, but it didn’t really mean a lot to me. I wasn’t there and it didn’t affect me, it’s just something I had heard and read about. That said, it’s still a somber place. I think more impressive than the remains of the wall is the line in the road that you can follow that shows where it used to be. In many places you can see a double brick line right through the middle of the road that is where the wall once stood. That goes further in representing the division of Berlin to me than seeing the wall itself.