Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 11 Berlin

Day 11
Berlin Walking
After getting started in the morning we took some time figuring out where we wanted to go. It is so much easier to do that here in Germany than it was in Czech. I understand the maps, signs, and trains better. We went over to the Hilton Berlin that we would be staying in that night and left our bags in the luggage storage and then took off to see the city.

We saw the Kaiser William Memorial church, which was built in 1890 and was badly damaged during WWII.
The newer towers on each side are the replacements.

The mosaics inside the memorial spire.

Looking through the spire.

While walking along the streets in this neighborhood we found the Berlin zoo, which might have been nice to visit, but for the money we would have had to stayed all day. So instead we walked the streets in the area, seeing what there was and enjoying some street entertainment.


skateboard acrobats

more dancers

After that we went over to Alexander Square to see the old TV and Radio tower.

The Galleria and meeting place fountain

Fersehturm TV tower
A regular car and a smart car. Cute isn't it.
Neptun Fountain was built in 1891.
The Berlin Cathedral built in 1895, the TV tower built in 1969, and what is left of the Palace of the Republic, the seat of the East German parliament in the process of being torn down due to asbestos contamination. The building was built in 1973 on the site of the former Berlin City Palace, which had been damaged during WWII and may be rebuilt.

The Red Town Hall Originally built in 1861. Rebuilt after WWII
I think I have photos of these same land marks from 1983 when it was all on the East Berlin side and I was here touring with a school group. The comparison will be interesting to see when I get home.
The one thing I am sure of is that Alexander Square was very grey, quiet, and almost empty. The only people making any noise were some small children playing in the fountain. The stores around the square had very few things in them and what they had we really were not allowed to purchase. We were told that they got so few “fine” things from outside the East – they did not allow foreigners to buy them and take them out again. We could buy anything made “in” East Germany, but there really wasn't much to choose from at that time. Back then the group I was with wanted to have a snack and couldn't find anything except an ice cream stand that had a really bad watery product.
The difference now in the new Berlin is amazing, the square had lots of people and color. People of all ages really seemed to be enjoying themselves around the fountain and just generally shopping. The stores were full of a huge variety of products from all over the world. There is more food available than they can get people to eat. I didn't have any ice cream, but it looked pretty good. The canopies and signs for the restaurants added a lot of color.
From there we walked up Unter der Linden street to the Brandenburg gate.
It was a long walk filled with more sights, shopping, food, and people. So much different and good. When we got to the gate area the difference there is also huge. Back in '83 there were no buildings near the gate on the East side. Now they are rebuilding the area and putting buildings back into the same spaces they had previously stood. One example is the US Embassy.
US Embassy by the Brandenburg Gate

It originally stood to the right of the gate, they are rebuilding in the same space, though security concerns have moved it back from the street more than previously. The other difference is that back then you couldn't even get close to the gate, let alone walk under it. The gate was built in 1788 and was one of the only Pariser Square structures to survive WWII.

Former East side of Brandenburg Gate
Former West Side of Brandenburg Gate

We walked under and took pictures from both sides and then headed to the hotel after a long day of walking.
This Hilton was very much like the one in Prague. Lots of people in business attire and us in shorts with backpacks, and staying for free! LOL Our room was not upgraded, but we were very happy with what we got. This is the view out the windows.
The German Cathedral on Gendarmenmarkt was built in 1705. It was completely destryed in WWII and was rebuilt between 1977 and 1988. Now it is the Museum of German History.
Pegasus is everywhere.
Nothing to complain about there.

After checking in we went over to Potzdamer Platz to find something to eat and see that showcase of a mall. It is another place that was popular before WWII and has now been rebuilt to show off the new city. We had a nice dinner and then went back to the hotel very tired.

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