The final leg of our journey brought us to Berlin. With only a day and a half in such a big city, we chose another Hop-on-Hop off bus to see as many sites as possible, along with an extended stop at the DDR Museum of Berlin. The museum was fantastic – absolutely the most interactive museum we have been to, with exhibits allowing us to experience life in Soviet-occupied East Germany. This museum was informative and fun, and we all left with a better understanding of the politics, oppression, and daily reality of those living in East Germany and East Berlin prior to 1989.
Our full day in Berlin was a whirlwind of places… Checkpoint Charlie (one of the most tense moments of the Cold War occurred here when Soviet and American soldiers stood their ground on either side of the line between East and West Berlin; had a single shot been fired, the threat of nuclear war loomed as a reality), Alexanderplatz (food and beer gardens!), Babelplatz (underground library memorial to the millions of books burned by the Nazi Regime), Potsdamer Platz (Embassy row and nearby memorial to the more than 6 million Jewish people murdered by the Nazi’s), remaining sections of the Berlin wall, and Brandenburg Gate (symbolic entrance to the city of Berlin and signified the separation between East and West during the Soviet occupation)… only to name a few.
All-in-all, Berlin felt a lot like a large Americanish City. Perhaps due to the many influences of the west during the 40-year occupation by American, British, French, and Soviet influences – it was more of a melting pot similar to what we are accustomed to in North America. With several opera houses, musical venues, museums, high-end shopping, and countless restaurants with cuisine from around the world, it is likely very popular with city-savvy folk… AKA, not us Irvine’s ;).
As I write this, we are beginning the 5-hour drive to Frankfurt before flying home to Canada tomorrow. Tomorrow, we will wake up at 6 am on August 15th, and 16 hours later arrive in Calgary at supper time, also on August 15th, then drive the 1.5 hours home ;). We are expecting it to be a long day. Stay tuned!