June 17, 2012 (Day 5)
Today is the anniversary of the East Germany uprising of 1953. And today we toured much of the Berlin wall. It worked out rather well. Today was also the Germany versus Denmark soccer game and the whole city was getting ready to watch the game.
This morning we slept in late after such a late night last night. Then I played around with our German washing machine some more trying to figure out if it had a dry mode at all. It sure is full of buttons! We finally decided that it does spin, but doesn’t really dry, so I finally hung up the clothes to dry instead. Then we headed out for our day’s activities.
Our first stop was at Dolores, a California burrito place that made authentic freebirds/mission burrito/chipotle – style burritos. They of course were not as good as back home, but they were authentic and delicious. Mark is definitely getting some Mexican-like food while we are here in Berlin. Then we headed over to the Topography of Terror.
We passed a memorial to the June 17, 1953 uprising and roses were lined up neatly all along the memorial for the anniversary.
The Topography of Terror is a memorial to the German history from 1933 – 1945. Right next to an aging section of the Berlin wall, a modern display wall gives the history in the form of photos, propaganda, and paragraph descriptions. The site is actually on a former Gestapo/SS headquarters as well as being located next to the Berlin wall. The history from this time period is rather extensive and we’ve been relearning all of it over the past few days. Berlin has done a good job with the memorials around their city. It can be very depressing to go through these memorials , but it is important to do so. It’s sometimes hard to believe just how recently the Berlin wall came down and even just how recently the Holocaust was.
From here, we took a chocolate break and walked along the former Berlin wall to the Fassbender & Rausch fine chocolate shop. All through the city, there is a red-brick line indicating where the Berlin wall once stood. At several points there are information walls erected giving details of the checkpoints like Checkpoint Bravo, and Checkpoint Charlie. We could learn about both the successful and unsuccessful attempts to cross the wall. The stories are incredible. For instance one family actually created a zipline across the wall from the top of a building on one side to some friends down on the other side. The guards are given orders to shoot to kill should anyone attempt to cross, so you know these people were in dire situations sending their small children into a killing zone. Thankfully this family made it across. Many did not.
The Fassbender & Rausch chocolate shop was filled with…..you guessed, chocolate. There were about 80 different flavors of truffles for instance. There were also some chocolate sculptures, and plenty of various chocolate bars, treats, and gifts. We walked out with various truffles to munch on while we bike to Denmark. Dessert on a bike tour is very important, and we want to be prepared! =)
From here we headed back to our apartment to drop some stuff off and regroup before heading out again. When your day starts at noon, there isn’t much time to do everything, but we can try! We took the Ubahn out to the Eastside Gallery. This is about a 1.2km section of the Berlin wall still standing, but instead of falling apart, they allowed artists to use the space for murals. The whole stretch is covered in murals that take up anywhere from 4 sections of the wall, to so many sections we couldn’t keep count. There were murals depicting messages of freedom. There were murals depicting images of Berlin. There were even just sections of art that didn’t have to do with the wall at all. I took many photos of the art along the wall, but I’ll only include a few of the more interesting ones. This is a great way to use this existing Berlin Wall. Instead of being depressed by the wall, it portrays hope and art.
The soccer game had started at 8:45pm and it seemed like the whole city was out to watch the game. Between the wall and the river, there were several bars with large viewing screens and even one with bleachers for people to watch the game. When Germany scored, we could hear the cheering from all over. It was pretty fantastic to see a whole city come together like this. Even convenience stores had a screen and outdoor tables for people to sit at. We made it back to the taco place we visited on our first night. The quesadillas and nachos were still good and we sat outside to watch the rest of the soccer game.
I still can’t believe twilight goes almost to 11pm. It’s still light enough to see at 10:00pm for sure. The long days are making the time zone change difficult as it just never feels like the time of day my watch tells me it is.
Today is our last night at the flat and we’ve enjoyed this one. I highly recommend Bohemian Flat in Kruezburg Berlin (be-home-berlin.com). The shower is one of the best European showers we’ve had. Firstly, it is large enough to stand up and turn around in with plenty of extra room. There are shelves for toiletries, and most importantly, the water stays inside the shower and doesn’t flood the bathroom floor! There is a washing machine as well and plenty of space to move around. The bedroom/living room is large with an ipod alarm clock, a bed, a couch, coffee table, flat screen tv, and kitchen table with chairs. There is a small balcony that is perfect for letting clothes air-dry. The kitchen is in a separate room, another large one, with all the amenities you need in a kitchen. We didn’t actually use it very much, but of course it had all the dishes and utensils we needed, complete with a microwave and dishwasher too. Also, there are more outlets in this flat that we could ever possible use, which is amazing.