Germany 2014 – Berlin day 1 – Getting settled in – Potsdam Platz and Friedrichstrasse

Berlin is one of the nicest cities we’ve ever been to visit and we say that not being city people. It’s inexpensive, diverse, in touch and comfortable with its awesome history and culture and unafraid to contemplate and show its awesome history; warts and all.

Our trip started well because Sharon picked a great location for our hotel on the edge of Kreuzberg and Mitte; the Holiday Inn on Stresemanstrasse. Literally minutes away from Potsdam Platz and super convenient for sight-seeing and biking around town yet nice and quiet.
Another good choice we made right off the bat was to pick up some bikes for Berlin is a big city without a set of defined town centres. Partially that’s a function of the Cold War, Berlin Wall history where both the West and East Side developed separate distinct cultural, art, sports, shopping and other attractions. Partially that’s just because the city is spread into many distinct tight neighbourhoods.

In any event the massively impressive bike infrastructure, the courteous well-trained drivers and pedestrians who are so aware and safe; and the good weather we had made Berlin by Bike a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Our first day started mid-day with us getting in from Leipzig and toodling around checking out the neighbourhood. We saw this all by foot literally within a half hours walk of the hotel

Just a block from our hotel in Stresamanstrasse is a memorial to Jewish residents deported via the old Theresienstadt railway building (the bullet shattered wall is left standing). Pow – Berlin hits you between the eyes. This station was closed during the cold war since East West Trains essentially ceased to be. 

The DDR watchtower on Ema-Berger Strasse was a reality check. Surrounded now by big buildings its a reminder that the area around Potsdam Platz was no-mans land of cleared field of fire. And that bike paths were for walking guard dogs, laying mine fields. And that cappucino bars were previously barbed wire fences and machine gun posts. Surreal 


I bought a old Pioneer Ossi hat just for Uncle Jurgen!


Old preserved piece of the Berlin Wall incorporated into the new government ministry building. This is the original wall in its original position.


Yes its real but no – no tourists

The Wall went around the entire West Berlin. This is a “bulge” in the border with Checkpoint Charlie just at the right border edge. At this point you’re in the kill zone

Topography of Terror houses an exhibit talking about how both the Nazi and Soviet regimes used Poland and Warsaw as a punching bag. This is part of the Berlin Wall preserved as integral to the exhibit 

Oh hey now we come to the Disneyfication of Checkpoint Charlie 

Checkpoint Charlie Then – 1961

and now

Actors earning their pay 

At least in the inner city Berlin is a city of museums. There are competing museums and street displays all around this location at the old US – DDR border crossing at the Berlin Wall all vieing for people to come in. This museum /Stasi Exhibition was free and incredibly informative with the addition of audioguides. Look for its formal name under “Information and Documentation Center” ZimmerStrasse 90/91

One of the street displays juxtaposes the Brandenburg Gate now vs then in 1945 vs the Soviets coming to take the city

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