Ich Bin (Ein) Berliner: Friends New and Old in Berlin

OK, I’m not a donut. But props to those of you who recognize the quote.

So I’m about a week behind in posting – I left off right around when I flew to Berlin last Monday. For my first night I stayed with a friend of a friend who lives just outside the Ringbahn (the circle line around the city). She was such a gracious host that I’m seriously considering trying Couchsurfing if other hosts are like her…(or I’ll keep depending on the friends of friends network since it worked so well for me both in Seoul and Berlin).

We had a leisurely lunch and chat, allowing me to recuperate from my early flight. I then hopped on the S bahn (one of Berlin’s two train/subway networks, and no, I have no idea what the difference is between it and the U bahn) and in under half an hour I was at the Brandenburg Tor (Gate), a symbol once of the division of Germany and now a symbol of reunification. Who can forget the pictures of the mobs of people celebrating the fall of the Wall there? And with all this historical build up, I must admit I thought it would be…bigger. Oh well, it was impressive all the same, though the guys trying to earn a few euros by dressing up as an American and a French soldier for photo ops were kind of weird. (Not that they hold a candle to the Darth Vader I saw a few days later. I almost posed with him. I mean, he had an extra light saber!)


I took a look at the outside of the Reichstag, one of the houses of the German parliament, and then headed south towards what I will call the Holocaust Memorial. (I think the official name is something like the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). It’s an impressive piece of public sculpture, which purposefully does not specifically reference the Holocaust (though you could consider it as representing tombstones – decide for yourselves).


I continued my walk south, more or less following the line that separated East and West Berlin, to arrive at Potsdamer Platz. I saw a lot of informational signs about both the Nazis and the Berlin Wall on my route. The city of Berlin has done an excellent job of providing information to build awareness.

Potsdamer Platz is symbolic of the new unified Germany – no longer a wasteland divided by the Wall (or a bombed out shell), it is full of new buildings for a new beginning. There are some pieces of the Wall there, covered in graffiti and pieces of gum in defiance of the DDR (East German communist government).

I wanted to wrap up my walk at Checkpoint Charlie, which meant that I passed a strip called the Topography of Terror. This is a block that housed both the Gestapo and the SS buildings along with other Nazi instruments of terror and control, and today houses a great (and free!) exhibit. I ended up spending quite a bit more time than planned there, so walked to Checkpoint Charlie afterwards with the idea of returning later to see the museum.

I headed back for an amazing dinner (my new friend being a good cook, too) and then off to bed!

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