Our main activity for day three was the East Side Gallery.
Although Mark discovered that there was a beer festival on the weekend we were there, and conveniently it was on the way to the East Side Gallery!
The longest beer festival in the world, it was a mile long and had 2,400 brands of beer and 344 breweries. We even had Scotland represented with Brewdog. We bought a tiny (0.2l) stein each and set off to sample some beers. I mostly stuck to the fruity ones but did try some of the German beers too. I don’t think we were even half way down before I started feeling a bit tipsy! Thankfully there were plenty of food places so we got some currywurst to share before we headed for more beer.
It seems that Germans love unicorns as much as me, there was a lot of unicorn stuff in shops and there was even a unicorn beer! And it was freakin’ delicious!
Once we got to the end of the beer festival we were on the way to the main attraction of the day. The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall at over 1300 metres long. It’s covered in over 100 paintings, the most famous probably being the kissing scene of Brezhner and Honecker (unsurprisingly it was super busy here, so I didn’t manage to get a good photo of this). We also saw Oberbaumbrücke, the double-deck bridge which was near the start of the East Side Gallery (the one you can see in the photo at the top of the post). This bridge was closed after WW2 because it connected east and west Berlin.
I think day four was my favourite day. We went to the Berlin Wall Memorial and Berlin Underworlds Museum. We headed to the Underworlds Museum first thing and booked onto one of the English tours of the bunker under the train station. Tickets purchased, we were back on the train to the Berlin Wall Memorial. This was such an interesting museum, partly outside, there were photos of escapes across the border and plaques on the ground to show where people had dug tunnels to get east to west. There was also a part of the wall set up as it would have been, with no man’s land in between the two sides and the watchtower. The part of the museum that was inside was more about the wall going up, it was put up overnight and the people of Berlin woke up unable to get from side to the other, families were separated, people couldn’t get to work. It’s so weird to imagine that when I was born the wall was still up!
We got back to the Underworlds Museum for our tour and it was so cool. We entered the bunker through a huge door half way down the stairs into the station. The bunker consisted of lots of different rooms and would have been able to accommodate 1000 people in the event of a raid. When we went into the bunker we were told not to touch the walls, and the reason why was demonstrated to us – the paint glows in the dark, and still does all these years later! Pretty sure that means there is some harmful stuff in that paint!? Although it had space for 1000 people in reality there would be more than that in it when it was in use, candles were used to monitor the amount of oxygen in the bunker. We weren’t allowed to take photos in here as some of the items on display weren’t allowed to be photographed.
Our last full day in Berlin started with a visit to the Olympiastadion – the venue for the 1936 Olympics. To get into the actual stadium you had to pay but we decided against this as you still got some pretty cool views without actually going in and we still had other sights to see!
The other thing on the list for day five was Topography of Terror which is on the site of what was the Gestapo headquarters. This museum was really tough going. It’s all about the horrible things the Nazis did during their time in power, both in the lead up and during WW2. The whole museum was made up of large info boards that gave details of the horrors inflicted on people. I’m a total history geek but there was only so much I could read and the photos were truly awful. I ended up sitting out about the last quarter of the museum.
Our flight home on the Tuesday was around 1pm but we managed to get booked onto a tour of the glass dome on top of the Reichstag. You are able to do a tour of the whole building but this has to be booked well in advance and by the time we booked our trip there were no slots left. The glass dome was cool and the views across the city were amazing! Plus we were up so early we managed to see the Brandenburg Gate with no tourists in front of it.
And then it was time to head to the airport and get back to sunny Scotland.
Berlin was such a great city and we had a great time. If you’re planning a trip my must see places would be the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Berlin Underworlds Museum, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery. The fact that the Germans don’t shy away from their history amazes me! Our hotel (Park Inn by Radisson) was in a great location, the rooms were a good size and the bed was comfy. Everything you need in a hotel on a city break. The only weird thing about it was the fact that the shower cubicle was pretty much in the bedroom, as in you could see it from the bed!
I definitely think walking around a new city is the best way to explore it but the public transport was great and you can buy a ticket thats lets you use the train, tram and bus. Also, when in Germany you need to try ALL the food! Currywurst is super tasty, and is great washed down with a beer. Also German mac n’ cheese – käsespätzle – is amazing!
Have you visited Berlin? What were your favourite things about the city?
You can read pt.1 of our Berlin trip here.
Photographs taken by me & M Richardson