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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 10: More history

I slept well but not too late, as I feared I might. I start this Tuesday morning with a little more on yessterday. I don't want to read too much into areas being formerly East or West, but I noted things. Where I'm staying is in the East, and a nice-looking quiet area. Nearby, there are drab modern buildings, with shopping that I know is post-unification. At the western end of the 100 bus line, by the Zoo train station, one sees the huge consumer culture, the busy shopping streets, culminating in the KaDeWe department store. No shortage of banks with ATMs there; it was odd that I took so long to find one in a major world capital.

So on Tuesday morning, I thought I could make it a plan to have a full breakfast and skip lunch; in countries where large breakfasts are served, that is often my plan of action when traveling alone. I got to a place nearby with a Superfruhstuck, and they didn't start serving until 9; this is a place where people are up late and don't start so early in the morning. I got that breakfast of cold cuts with a roll and a hard-boiled egg in the shell.

I took the short walk to the German Historical Museum or DHM. It isn't a state museum covered by the pass. Just buying a regular ticket with a few people ahead of me in line took a long time as it seemed that they mostly were group leaders. I also got the audioguide to have a better understanding in English of the displays, but most displays were lableled in English. I thought I'd mostly be interested in the 20th century, but there were involving things in the start upstairs, including the Holy Roman Empire with no capital and a traveling emperor. The visit returned downstairs after World War I, so I'd been through a lot when it was time to take in hyper-inflation, the Depression, Nazism, World War II and the Holocaust, divided Germany, and Unification. I can get through museums on the fast side, but this took around 3.5 hours.

I got to Hackescher Markt and didn't skip lunch; I wanted to sit down between standing times and ate at Rocco, sitting outside and having a croque-monsieur (the serving was actually two). I went there because, right by there, I had made plans to join the Insider Tour, which comes highly recommended although I don't usually join tours. The guide, a woman named Pen from Australia, started with the main historical buildings on the eastern side, where it could be noted that the original elements of buildings had bullet holes that had been filled in, central Berlin having been so heavily damaged. We learned to recognize the modern buildings built in the death strip area near the wall on the eastern side, saw the Checkpoint Charlie replica and part of the wall that still stands, then got to an apartment building (East side) parking lot, where Hitler's bunker was. We saw the new Monument to Murdered Jews, and ended at Brandenburg Gate. There was a break at a coffee bar in the middle, but it took over three hours.

I didn't buy a transit pass today, and I made my way on foot back towards my apartment. When I got close, I was intrigued by the installation of an upside-down car on the steps of a building, I went in and visited the C/O Center. I took pause at thte €10 admission, but it's a photography center and included photographs of Berlin in ruins after 1945, an interesting conclusion to the history-centered day. The building is the former headquarters of the Imperial Post Office.

I wanted to eat without too much worrying about where to go, and went to an Indian place in this city of much international cuisine. The weather's been nice, maybe too hot--I hear it's more like July weather here. Tomorrow I'm planning my day trip to Potsdam.


  1. Andrew, I am enjoying reading about your time in Berlin and the things you are experiencing and seeing. We were there while the wall was up and have some interesting stories about crossing over--a little frightening and intimidating. The museums in what was East Berlin are quite fascinating--particularly the Pergamon which I am sure you will go too. I hope your trip is wonderful.

  2. The Insider walking tour sounds great, Andrew, covering a lot of fascinating historical ground!