22.10.2015 - 27.10.2015 8 °C
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.
There is a very interesting Jewish memorial, a replica of Jewish graves (1000+) to mark the atrocities of Jewish removal and extermination.
Then on to Brandenburg gates which positioned just within the Eastern side of the former border.
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.
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’.
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