Berlin for the Weekend

We’ve been in Germany a year and still hadn’t made it to Berlin, so one weekend we spontaneously drove up. We had no real plans except to see a few of the major highlights like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. Despite my poor planning, we did find an excellent hotel last minute. We stayed at H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz. It was cheap, €70 a night and it included a breakfast buffet that was really good. The hotel was located right off of Alexanderplatz, which is a great place to be when exploring Berlin. It is a no frills kind of a hotel, but it was clean, updated, and comfortable and I highly recommend it if you get the chance to go.

From our hotel we could see the TV Tower. It is 368 meters tall and is the tallest structure in Germany. You can go up it, but we didn’t.  Neither one of us are all that fond of being up super high.

Our next stop was to see the Berlin Cathedral. It was beautiful on the outside. I had intended to go inside of it, but the guy wanted to charge us €19 each, and I just think that is too expensive. I quickly looked up pictures of the inside and we decided to skip it. It looked nice, but nothing that would blow us away. I do like seeing the interior of churches, but after being fortunate enough to see places like Notre Dame, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, this just did not look like it would compare. Plus, we spent less than €38 for lunch AND dinner, so this definitely was overpriced in my opinion.

The outside was great, though!

The Berlin Cathedral is located on what is called Museum Island. There are several different museums here. One is pictured above. We aren’t museum people, so we just walked through the courtyard. They did have an entire museum devoted to Ancient Egypt that I fully expected Stefan to want to go inside of, but he said no. I couldn’t believe it. We’ve seen so much Egyptian stuff in museums all over Europe that I wonder if anything is left to see in Egypt! It’s sad if you think about it.

Our next stop was the Brandenburg Gate. Originally built as a sign of peace in the 1700’s, the Brandenburg Gate eventually came to signify the division of East Berlin and West Berlin.

Located pretty much right next to the Brandenburg Gate is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The slabs are 2.38 meters long, 0.95 meters wide, and vary in height from 0.2 meters to 4.7 meters. The entire area is about 19,000 square meters. It’s a pretty chilling place.

Our next stop was the Reichstag. This is the meeting place for the German Parliament. Had I done my research and planned ahead, we would have climbed that dome, but tickets were long sold out by the time we got there. The views are supposed to be great from up there and you aren’t in an enclosed space.

Next we went to the Victory Column. It is a monument to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War.  I actually don’t know squat about that war, but the monument is pretty. Berlin has too much history that it is difficult to keep it all straight. I had a difficult enough time just remembering if I was in former East or West Berlin.

Next we saw the “German White House”, or Bellevue Palace, which has been the official residence of the President of Germany since 1994.

We also stopped to look at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. This church was damaged heavily in WWII. A new church was erected next to it, but this church now serves as a war monument. It was cool to see these ruins in between all these new modern buildings. This church is located close to a huge shopping area!

Of course we stopped by Checkpoint Charlie.  This was the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. This a very touristy area now, but still a good piece of history to see.

Of course, we also stopped to see parts of the Berlin Wall. There are pieces of the wall up in different parts of city. Below are some pictures from these places:

Then we also went to East Side Gallery to see the paintings on the section of wall there. East Side Gallery is an open air art gallery. If you’ve seen pictures of the wall in recent years, you probably saw the colorful artwork displayed at East Side Gallery.

Each painting has a different meaning, and I won’t explain all of them to you, but I thought I would explain the one above because it is the most famous painting.  The piece is titled, “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love”, and it was painted by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel in 1990.  The painting depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a Fraternal Embrace, which was a popular greeting between Soviet leaders at the time.  You might think that the painting is a complete joke, but it is based on an actual photograph taken in 1979 in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the German Democratic Republic–East Germany.

I also want to explain some things about the wall. Do you see how there is a rounded top to the wall?  At first I didn’t notice it, but there was a reason for this. You can climb over barbed wire, but this rounded top made it difficult to get a good enough grip to climb over the wall and escape. Very sad. It’s also sad to me that the wall was blocked off using these gates because people kept spray painting over the artwork.

I also found this building to be interesting. “Stop Wars” is painted on the former building that was called Haus der Statistik.  Apparently this is where the DDR kept dirt about their citizens when the wall was still up. I don’t know much about it. I just asked some guy on the street corner what the building was for and I thought it was interesting. He said that after the reunification of Germany that you could go up there and read about all the dirt they dug up on you. Interesting.

And of course when you are in Berlin you need to eat a currywurst. It’s a sausage covered in curry ketchup. I know it sounds disgusting, but it is really very good.  It is one of our favorite fast food things to get while in Germany and something we will miss for sure! 

Do you see that delicious food? Yum!

Overall Berlin was nice for a weekend trip. I definitely recommend brushing up on your history before going. I wish we would have had more time so we could have visited the Olympic Stadium, but oh well. If there is a next time we will add it to our list!

10 Responses to “Berlin for the Weekend

  • The TV tower, Danielle, was known as “the pope’s revenge” because the atheist state of East Germany had one cross and that was the way the light or rather the sundhine bounced off the TV tower.

    • That’s interesting. Did you know anything about the Haus der Statistik building while you were there? You can see it from Alexanderplatz

  • great post, interesting architecture, i like it. berlin is very beautiful city in germany. if i can go germany, i must visit berlin… Thanks for sharing. happy traveling

  • Most people don’t realise that Currywurst was invented in 1949 as an affordable but filling meal for the people of Berlin at a time when food was in short supply.

    We do love a good currywurst! One of our favourite foodie things to when visiting Berlin is to visit the Fritz & Co currywurst stall on Wittenberg Platz in the Schöneberg area of Berlin.

    • I avoided trying currywurst for the longest time because it sounds so weird! But it is definitely delicious and something I make at home occasionally. I’ve actually never had a bad currywurst. I’ve had good currywurst and great currywurst, but never a bad one! 🙂 If we are ever in that area again I will have to stop by Fritz & Co and give it a try!

  • It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Berlin and I definitely want to go back and see more of the city =o)

  • When I was doing my semester abroad in Germany, Berlin was also my last stop before going back home. I’m so happy I didn’t skip it because it was oh so worth it! Such an amazing city!

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