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2016/10/04 Germany Day 19-23: Berlin
π 2016-10-04 01:01 in Germany2016, Trips
The last 5 days of our trip were spent in Berlin, although 3 of those were spent at Linuxcon Europe. We only really had about 2.5 days to visit Berlin, which was almost enough, but only given very long days (we found some museums that closed at 20:00, or even 22:00 depending on the day).

Our first nights were at the intercontinental berlin, which had a great breakfast but wasn't super nicely located for sightseeing:


very good selections
very good selections

During lunch the first day, we had a quick walk to a nearby church that had been badly damaged by bombing, walking by the zoo:









One evening, we had a party next the Berlin tower and AlexanderPlatx. We had a rooftop party, but it was so cold that we only went out for a few pictures and stayed inside the rest of the time:






The first day after the conference, We went to the Deutsche History Museum, which was both unique and excellent. I had never seen a museum that recounts the entire history of a country, but that's exactly what this one did:

  • from prehistoric times
  • to the story of religions (germany started the protestant fork of christianism with Martin Luther who translated the bible in German after finding the catholics way too corrupt and willing to sell absolution)
  • to the invasion of good parts of Germany by Napoleon who in addition to growing France's borders, was also wanting to get rid of kings and queens in Europe and actually did help several people get rights similar to France's d├ęclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen
  • France however tried to be a bit too greedy and in the end lost its army after trying to go too far, resulting in France even losing some of its territory to Germany (Alsace and Lorraine) in 1870
  • A description of WWI where the war stalled and France got Alsace and Lorraine back
  • The resulting conditions put on Germany after WWI that caused hyper inflation, unhappy people and ultimately helped allow the rise of the nazi party
  • A good description of how Hitler and his accomplices were able to slowly take control of the government, first legally and then by removing whatever legal rights were left, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and competing political parties
  • from there, the same description of what the nazi party managed to do before the end of WWII
  • Sadly, once Germany was occupied by the 4 victorious countries, Russia was losing so many people to the west with its economic policies that weren't working out, that they built the wall in and around Berlin, to stop the exodus
  • and it's only by 1989, that they admitted that their policies had utterly failed, that their people didn't want to participate, and that they finally allowed them to cross the wall
  • said wall was fairly quickly taken down by the population as a bad memory of 30 years, to the point that the government had to protect a few pieces of it to be kept for historical reasons.










  • Next, we went to Pergamon Museum that was open late that evening, and that saved us from the usual lines they have. It's going to be in renovations for many years, but they still had interesting collections from the middle east that were visible:










    The next morning, we walked to the Reichtag for a walk to the top dome. Honestly the view was nothing to write home about, but it's a nice building nonetheless:


    pieces of the berlin wall
    pieces of the berlin wall

    monument to murdered jews
    monument to murdered jews






    Before doing the rest of the walk, we did a detour to the Wall Museum, with a reconstituted piece of the Berlin wall with watchtower, and no mans land in the middle. The subway also showed subway stations that got closed and became ghost stations while the wall was up (as well as escapes that managed to work out through the subway tunnels):


    in some places, the pavement shows where the wall used to be
    in some places, the pavement shows where the wall used to be




    what the wall used to be like, two walls really
    what the wall used to be like, two walls really

    The walk then went to Branderburger Gate and continued the walk:




    the bunker hitler finished his life in before killing himself is gone, just a plaque
    the bunker hitler finished his life in before killing himself is gone, just a plaque


    galleries lafayette
    galleries lafayette

    Not on the Rick Steves Walk (and that is a mistake) were the German and French cathedrals by the concert hall. The French one was actually for a sect of the protestants that had to flea from France after persecution from the catholics, and the city of Berlin added a nice dome on top that one can now climb after the rebuild that happened due to WWII:


    the french cathedral had a museum
    the french cathedral had a museum

    new church tower with bells
    new church tower with bells

    just a few steps to get to the top
    just a few steps to get to the top

    nice view
    nice view


    the church inside is very basic, as expected for protestant churches
    the church inside is very basic, as expected for protestant churches


    Deutsche Cathedral
    Deutsche Cathedral


    We then walked to checkpoint charlie before going to Topography of Terror, the Berlin documentation center, with its own piece of wall too. By then, this was our 4th or 5th documentation center on what the Nazi did, so there wasn't really anything new, but we still went through it in a couple of hours since it was open from 18:00 to 20:00, a bit later than others places that had closed by 18:00:







    they had more pictures
    they had more pictures

    some were disturbing: hangings...
    some were disturbing: hangings...

    shootings, etc...
    shootings, etc...

    By 20:00, the documentation center closed, but I had still time to visit the nearby "Mauermuseum - Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie". It had some interesting stories on how people escaped east berlin and got across the wall through various means: tunnels, self built aircraft from planes to balloons, ramming the wall with a big bus or truck (that didn't work so well), using fake uniforms, fitting in a suitcase, or a loudspeaker box, and so forth :)

    incidently, East Berlin apparently only had one kind of car, for those lucky enough to have one. It's now an icon
    incidently, East Berlin apparently only had one kind of car, for those lucky enough to have one. It's now an icon







    someone even managed to hide in the engine bay of that crappy car
    someone even managed to hide in the engine bay of that crappy car

    original sign from checkpoint charlie
    original sign from checkpoint charlie

    I finally got done by 21:30, it had been a long day, and it was well past time for some rest :)

    The next morning we went to the Berlin Dom/Cathedral which opened by 09:00 when everything else was closed until 10:00. Decent view from the top:









    By 10:00-ish we headed towards museum island, starting with the Altes Museum, with a nice collection, but again we got hassled for BS like Jennifer being told she could not carry her jacket around her waist and put it on and off as needed. Either she wore it, or she had to check it in. Seriously?

    we learned during this trip that Romans started making sarcophagus and mummified some of their people after learning from the egyptians
    we learned during this trip that Romans started making sarcophagus and mummified some of their people after learning from the egyptians


    greeks having sex
    greeks having sex


    By then it was late enough to see a small original watch tower that was used to check the wall


    in that location the no mans land between the 2 walls was huge
    in that location the no mans land between the 2 walls was huge


    From there, we headed back to museum island to see Neues Museum, as it's actually called:



    yes, egyptian stuff isn't exactly new, but it was in the new museum anyway :)
    yes, egyptian stuff isn't exactly new, but it was in the new museum anyway :)



    Next, in case the names weren't confusing enough, there is also an alte national gallery that isn't the altes museum:







    After that museum, we went back to finish the Deutsches History Museum, and when they kicked us out at 18:00, we went to the DDR Museum nearby. To be honest, the DDR museum wasn't as interesting, but when we got out, it was night, so we went to enough the night sights and the festival of lights:













    And that was it for our visit of Berlin, much to see, especially museums, and it was interesting to see what's left of the wall in person, as well as more history about it than I had learned at home.

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