World War to Cold War…..

One thing I need to remember for future reference, when having a good idea, like let’s get an early start before the sun and the crowds emerge… check how far the destination is from the hotel!!

Before coming to Berlin I asked Becky what was her favourite part. She said we must visit the dome at the top of the Reichstag building for its views and audio guide to what we were seeing. Great idea, but when I checked the dome was closed for the duration of our visit for cleaning. The roof terrace was still open so we duly applied for, and were subsequently granted, an appointment at 9.30am. Then forgot about it, until 7am this morning! Checking the location and distance we realised it’s a 50 minute walk, so breakfast was less than leisurely today!

Joining the local commuters rushing about their business,

we arrived at the allocated time and, very clandestine, we escorted to the outer dorm of the building by one person, who locked the door behind us. Then the next one opened and we had then to wait for someone else to usher us into the lift, which to be honest looked like a corridor as it was all mirrored so looked huge.

Then at the top we were ushered out to take in the views. It’s not too high, unlike the dome which we could see went much higher, but you get a good perspective of the old and new, traditional and modern, and the vast amount of reconstruction taking place, just about everywhere.

There was a very civilised roof cafe with sweeping views over the city where we enjoyed a coffee.

We wandered back towards the Brandenburg Gate, which we had only had chance to glance at on our way, so afeared were we of missing our time slot.

We found a touching memorial for the various communities of Gypsies who had suffered at the hands of the third reich, another thing I hadn’t realised was how many other groups had suffered at their hands.

Cutting through the park our next stop was the Holocaust Memorial. A strange, emotional place to walk through, in the shadow of the Reichstag. Varying sizes of stone slabs, some horizontal others vertical, leading you through long, narrow, undulating pathways, with the same views whichever way you looked, until the peace was disturbed by modern day gypsies pretending to be deaf and dumb seeing to con visitors out of cash, despite the many police signs on display warning visitors.

After this a little light relief was in order, so after viewing the Stefan Enders photographic display of what is a European, we headed to the German Spy Museum. Whilst there were lots of young people in the museum, I’m not sure how much they would have got out of it, those of us of a certain age who grew up in the Cold War and early James Bond movies however found it very interesting.

Another of Becky’s suggestions had been the Topography of Terror, and it was both fascinating and horrifying. The story of Hitlers rapid rise to power coincided with the day of my mothers birth. The vast suffering for the ideology of a few is incomprehensible. It did however bring to mind current day issues of similar situations and ideologies….. and brought a lot more questions to look up when we got back this evening.

Checkpoint Charlie was our next stop. I have vivid memories of news reports of this checkpoint so it was interesting to see its location and relevance. Bit ‘kitch’ with the ‘American soldiers’ on duty but the signs about entering US territory were more viable.

Our route back to Alexanderplatz took us through various squares and viewed many beautiful buildings,

veering off course each time we spotted a square,

church or building along another street,

and resulting in aching feet by the ( 12kilometers) end

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