A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

Berlin

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We found it a bit interesting to get out of Budapest and it took us quite a while to decide where we could go next. Balancing the budget against seeing new things and avoiding covered ground is tough. There were also border closures due to the current refugee crisis which would make either our travel in or back out again a bit tricky. In the end, we decided on a flight to Berlin and seeing the city as we had contemplated before arriving in Europe.

First impressions on Berlin were great, we liked the feel of the place. Transport was excellent as well with lots of options on train and buses to catch. They had double decker buses which the boys enjoyed a lot. We allowed for two big sightseeing days here and a bit of walking to cover the ground – which we seem to be getting used to.

Our first day was finding the Berlin Wall line near Potzdamer Platz, following this past the Jewish memorial and then to Brandenburg gates. Berlin is slowly reinstating a two brick wide cobblestone (see second photo) marking the location of the 3.6 metre high concrete slabs which divided Berlin City into east and west. Although construction of the wall was more than a concrete slab as we learned later.
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There is a very interesting Jewish memorial, a replica of Jewish graves (1000+) to mark the atrocities of Jewish removal and extermination.
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Then on to Brandenburg gates which positioned just within the Eastern side of the former border.
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After that, we found a great park and play equipment for the boys to burn off any remaining energy that they had. This is the German Victory monument which we found on the way home.
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One thing we have realised from this trip is that there is a lot of history (too much) to take in over your life time. There is nothing like visiting and staying in a place to really have this brought to your attention. The aftermath of post World War two is no exception and our next day of sightseeing took in the area around what the American’s called ‘Checkpoint Charlie’.
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Berlin was well within East Germany but split into four occupied zones post the war – French, British, American and Russian. Checkpoint Charlie is the border between the US and Russian occupied zones. We visited an excellent exhibition which detailed the actually construction of the wall, various escape attempts and a very good account of the subsequent Cold War. Maybe it was the age that we were when the Wall was there and when it fell (mid teens), but neither of us really had a good understanding of the full picture about what had happened and how it related to this war and subsequent conflicts (ie Korean and Vietnam wars). It felt like jigsaw pieces falling together, in line with everything else we’ve seen over this trip!.

After 5 days, it was time for us to move on and so we boarded our flight to our next destination – the United Kingdom

Posted by tollidaytravels 18:05 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Germany - Frankfurt, Nuremberg

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Frankfurt
Well as mentioned in my last blog, we have arrived in Germany. The plane trip was smooth and uneventful and both boys did exceptionally well at sleeping when they could and managing their jet lag. Better than us!

We arrived into Frankfurt at 6am and made our way to the hostel. It didn’t take us long to notice the change in weather which made us put on our jumpers that had been stored in stuff-bags for the last 7 months.
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We found out about a walking tour close to the hostel and decided to join, partly to get to know the place we’d just arrived in, partly to keep ourselves awake! Dom, our guide, initially walked us around the ‘dark’ side of Frankfurt where we were introduced to the drug and prostitution area of Frankfurt directly adjacent to the Frankfurt Central Train Station (and to our hotel, awesome!). We saw and were told about one brothel that turns over about 500 million Euro a year – that’s a lot of …. well …. umm never mind! It was an interesting conversation explaining to Lachlan what he was looking at.

We then moved on to some of the more interesting touristy spots of Frankfurt. Dom was great and showed us a lot of things that you could walk by without noticing.
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It was a good way to doing something and stay active while adjusting to a new time zone. But after a hostel-supplied pasta dinner and some brilliant Weiss beer (for Tania and Ashley only!!!), we fell into bed for some much needed rest.

We did some more walking the following day and found a great little street market where we sat down for a great lunch. Cameron lost his first tooth while tucking into a bratwurst sausage (it was very loose) and got Euros from the tooth fairy!! We love the fact that they have open wine bars out on the street here, along with the smallgoods, sausages, bread and cheese you could really make a picnic of it! We also found the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (look for the bull and bear!) and had a great walk along the Main River. Frankfurt offered a lot in one city – a seedy side, the financial district and some traditional buildings all bundled into one. Thank goodness the Tooth Fairy is in Germany!
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Nuremberg
What a beautiful city. Nuremberg is an old town, surrounded by a wall and four lookout towers. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War but has been restored to its former glory. There is also a beautiful castle which dates back to 1000AD which was great to wander around.
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As you can see from the photos there are beautiful buildings and cathedrals everywhere. It was great just to wander around and experience the architecture.
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Nuremberg was where Hitler started the Nazi movement and we visited the Documentation Centre (in one section of the Congress Hall) to find out more about it. The Nazi Party Rally Grounds actually covered eleven square kilometres and remain largely incomplete due to construction halting during the War. See the panoramic photos below of the stadium – this was to be another 30 metres higher and have a roof over the top.
The exhibition was titled ‘Fascination and Terror’ and had a fairly detailed account of the rise of Hitler and the National Socialist reign of terror leading up to WW2. (The first photo of the building is in the bottom right hand corner of the scale model in the third photo)
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Nuremberg is famous for its castle, its Nazi history, its specialty gingerbread (yum! It was very good), its own style of sausages (little mini ones, basically they look like breakfast sausages), and toys. It started with a toy manufacturer who became famous for designing tin toys, and grew into a huge industry. There’s an international toy convention held there every year, and we also visited a Toy Museum which exhibited toys from hundreds of years ago to present day. Cameron found a Thomas Train setup which he would have spent all afternoon playing on if we’d let him, he really misses his own Thomas trains at home!
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There is also the odd interesting street sign around the place too.
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The plan was to head to the Czech Republic next, more specifically Pilsen, where a good friend of Ash is living who we wanted to visit. So onto the bus (great bus services here) and over to the Czech Republic!

Posted by tollidaytravels 12:13 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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