This post was originally published in October 2016. Roaming charges in Europe are now free for other European citizens (which includes the U.K for the moment).
October 26, 2016
My feet are aching.
I’ve finished my work for now so today was my first real chance to see Berlin properly. I am pretty hopeless at regular maps and I didn’t want to end up lost in some strange suburb so to get to the Berlin Wall Memorial I ended up spending £13 on the data for Google maps before remembering 02 does European add-ons for £1.99 a day, so that’s just fabulous.
When I first got to the wall I thought I was in the wrong place. I’m not totally sure what I was expecting to see but somehow I wasn’t expecting to see.. a wall. Like a regular concrete wall.
I’d thought the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial were the same thing so I actually went into the Berlin Memorial Museum to see how I could get to the main wall before realizing that what I was thinking of is about an hour’s walk away in a totally different direction.
Even if wasn’t quite what I was expecting I’m still really glad I saw the Berlin Wall Memorial. I’ve done a lot on Nazi Germany but I didn’t know much about the cold war and the time of divided Germany so I learned quite a lot today. They have all these individual accounts of people living on the wrong side of the wall and there’s a viewing platform where you can normally see way past the wall to the surrounding landmarks.
Walking around the wall, reading all the information and seeing the memorial to the people who died is quite intense. It seems so crazy that all these people were shot trying to get to the other side of the street and you just can’t imagine now how that would work or what that would be like, but it was only about 60 years ago. It’s even crazier that some people *coughTRUMPcough* still want to build walls today.
Getting back from the wall was way trickier than it should have been. I somehow ended up on this long distance train going to Oranienburg because I thought it was the station just outside where my hostel is when it’s actually not even in Berlin.
I realized a few stops in and then has to get the underground allllll the way back to Alexanderplatz and then Another train back to the hostel so I could get some wifi and collapse on the sofas with one of their €1.80 beers.
After some recouping time (and a cheeky beer or two) I went back out to see Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust museum, and the Fuhrerbunker. Checkpoint Charlie is about half an hour away via foot from the hostel but it’s literally down one massively long road so it wasn’t exactly complicated. On the way, I stumbled across some beautiful buildings.
Checkpoint Charlie itself is worth seeing and its another reminder of this divided Berlin that is so hard to imagine now, but the nearby museum was about €11 and the act of paying for museums offends me as a Londoner so that didn’t happen.
Berlin is an amazing city which is full of history, beauty, and tragedy in equal measure. My original blog post was a lot longer than this, but I’ve decided to break day four into two posts as the next one (the Holocaust Memorial) should really be read on its own.