Deutschland: Berlin... Ost Oder West?

I couldn't get enough of Berlin, I was back on the U-Bahn at 7:00am the next morning on my way to a hopefully quiet Brandenburg Gate! I didn't care that my itinerary would leave me exhausted and wanting my bed so I could sleep for a week, my kind of travelling is low budget! Berlin had one final day to bring it big, I was determined to discover as much as I could! Get it!  

Perseverance is the key! Nowhere did I see a single tourist making a mockery of this magnificent sight! I validated my U-Bahn card at 7:00am on the dot so the photo captured to the left must have been snapped no more than fifteen minutes late? My hectic pursuit for an undisturbed photo of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate took me back to the time I woke equally as early to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona because the queue was also ludicrously long! I guess it's called 'suffering for your art?' I loved it! Berlin definitely embodies a certain stature, the Brandenburg Gate stood strong as it shone majestically during the early morning. I admit the fresh and early morning air felt and looked so much better than the previous afternoon but as you'll find out in future instalments of my Germany trip that certain parts of the country experience Anglo weather. Brandenburg Gate frankly looked amazing! Atemberaubend, B!

Ost Oder West? The title of this blog simply means in English, 'East Or West?' Ja! My morning of calm continued on! I skipped breakfast, beginning to get to know the grounds around the Brandenburg Gate. I slept like a log the previous night, I must have been on the go for over 20 hours? I made the most of my nights sleep, sleep would become a rare commodity during my Germanic adventure. As I have become more familiar with staying in hostels, I always make an effort to talk to fellow backpackers as its always a gamble because some people are less reluctant to talk than others. Thankfully a portion of my nine fellow dormers returned my introduction. I spoke to a few young ladies who were from America, I had something in common to talk to them about. They told how American's have the highest student fees and I said that England seems to have its own problems really. It was definitely a meeting of minds! Berlin is where all the cool kids go! Like really cool kids! Really?

The Tiergarten was calling me! With the morning still fairing to be quiet I made my way from the Brandenburg Gate, past the Bundestag, which is Germany's answer to London's Houses of Parliament. From the Bundestag I found myself amongst the greener pastures of Berlin's Tiergarten, a landscaped 'garden' that made me forget that I was then currently in Germany's capital city! Making my way from the Tiergarten to a spot along the 'Spree' to take some time to think about my next move. I loved the view along the Spree it was just so European! Continental Europe has got it going on but us on the UK are missing something, those views! Of course, Berlin's Tiergarten is a little pocket of calm in a crazy city! The Bundestag, that political centre gets the best of everything for the home of Germany's parliament looked future-proof with its modern looking buildings! That state of affairs has been closed! Fall abgeschlossen! Jaa! 

Berlin wasn't going to be my only destination, I had firm plans to see Hamburg and Bremen before my flight back to England. I had my tickets booked for a super quick train that was bound for Hamburg Hauptbahnhof early the next morning, I wanted to be certain as to what I had planned for the rest of my final day in Berlin! I could see the top of the grand looking Berlin Hauptbahnhof from where I was sitting along the Spree in the Tiergarten, I only had a short walk to reach its glass frontage. I made sure I knew where the platform would be for my train and decided to grab a bottle of Becks beer for breakfast! Germany has a great law that drinking an open bottle or can of alcohol is completely legal and above board, I stayed in the station with my morning bottle of Becks. You might be thinking 'Oh, he hasn't even eaten yet!' That was true but there's always a trusty McDonald's nearby to have breakfast! When in Berlin these things have to be done! I was loving Germany! Yes! 

Berlin are you East or West? That's the question! Back on the U-Bahn to find Berlin's Wall Memorial. I didn't have any internet guided map, I was thankful for the clearly laid signposts. I wasn't born until 1990, I didn't remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was going to be a learning experience. 1961 was the year that Berlin was separated by a very infamous barrier that made a new divided Germany with an East and West. I took some time to walk along the Memorial path to see where the wall would have stood back in the day of Germany's partition, I was taken aback with all what had happened so it was sobering to see a reunified Berlin and Germany. I read along the Memorial path that tunnels were dug so people could escape to the East to hopefully vacate Germany for good. I just couldn't begin to imagine how life would be like to live in a parted country? No, I know I'm no bucket 'n' spade person! For sure, not! 

In many ways we can look to North and South Korea, two countries that used to be one but with conflict and war I guess reunification won't happen at the pace it took for Germany to unite its borders. Let's allow the Korea's to get on with their struggle because in that moment it was all about Berlin! I guess it must have been before dinner time before I had took a break to chill out for a bit but I just moved on forwards in hot pursuit of another Berlin sight. From the Wall to the serenity of the Tiergarten I really felt liked what I had seen a lot in Berlin for the short time I had scheduled for that trip, I'm not one for shopping so I find it so much better to see as much as I can that doesn't involve spending too much money. Berlin has a vibe that's too good to bottle up and take home for later, I know getting my uni work done to at least 95% before leaving for Germany was worth it because Berlin gave me the chance to forget about that stress for a little bit! Thanks again, Germany!

Finding one more thing to accomplish before dinner time had to be a visit to Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport, which holds a link with Germany's Nazi past. I just looked at map and made sure I could get the train there, it was definitely spontaneous I tell you! The weather was just lovely with the sun shining as I walked through the airport park! Berlin-Tempelhof Airport's vast airfield now acts as a huge park with the runways and taxiways used for cyclists and rollerblading and I tell you its an impressive space for sure! A picnic could be enjoyed within the limits of this former German airport. Berlin's newest Airport hasn't even opened yet so the pressure is very much on for Brandenburg Airport! No? The airfield has now been fenced off from public use, reportedly used as a film set! Will there be a new airport Berlin? I hope so because Berlin's Tegel Airport did look tired. Tempelhof Airport was fascinating! Let's go! 

Partying wasn't on my mind, I met my friend from university for dinner by the Berlin Zoologische Garten, whilst I waiting for Nadine I found another Dunkin' Donuts but they didn't serve Texas Toast! I had not seen Nadine for a long time so it was great to catch up and see where each of us had achieved since the last time that we saw each of other. After meeting at the U-Bahn station at the Zoologische Garten we headed to a lovely street side restaurant that was located along Kurfurstendamm. I chose the Salmon and Nadine chose the Pasta, I really enjoyed my food and I'm sure Nadine enjoyed her meal. I would have to say that having friends in different parts of the world is a great thing! I had a great time catching up about our experiences of student life in Birmingham to conclude my Berlin segment of my Germanic trip. I knew that my next day would have a very early start so me and Nadine said goodbye. Nadine, thanks for being so gracious! Berlin was super! I was ready for Hamburg! 

Berlin Is Now!

Joseph Harrison


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