05 February 2011


We welcomed in the new year from Berlin. It's a fascinating and creative city with such a rich and turbulent history. However, my main lasting impression of it was that it was unbearably cold: something like -10 degrees celsius. We didn't have long in Berlin so we followed the beaten track and visited all the touristy places. 

The East-Side Gallery was our first stop. It's a memorial for freedom which stretches over 1km along the Berlin Wall. Since 1990, it's been decorated with powerful and symbolic paintings from artists all around the world.

When we were closer to town, we visited Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial. We then followed the line of the Wall through the former Nazi Government District to Checkpoint Charlie; the famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Further on from here, we ended up at Lustgarten. It's not much of a garden when there's a layer of snow that goes up to your knees! This place is home to the awe-inspiring Berlin Cathedral. 

I love Christmas in Berlin. Except the part where it's freezing and it's hard to get around because of the snow. But we spent a night wandering the beautiful Christmas markets at Gendarmenmarkt. Gendarmenmarkt is a lovely square, where two cathedrals stand at opposite ends; one is French and the other is German. They seem almost identical, but I was told the Germans made their cathedral a few metres taller than the French one to assert their power. At the markets here, we feasted on sausages and watched an outdoor theatre show where a muscular man paraded around in a girl's pink ballet costume.

One afternoon, our local friend, Jen, took us to Kunsthaus Tacheles. It's a former Nazi prison that's now run by a collective of artists. Every inch of its walls is covered by graffiti.

On New Years Eve, we ventured out to a club at Potsdamer Platz. Firecrackers were firing from all directions on the streets well past midnight. It sounded like we were in a battlefield.

We spent our last day visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. I wont go into detail here as I think it's one of those places you have to see and experience for yourself. It's a depressing place filled with tragic and terrifying stories that outline the human capacity for evil.


oda celine said...

I was in Berlin last February and was also really shocked about the cold. I actually thought I by living in Norway had experienced it..

And everyone should actually have seen either Sachesenhausen/Auschwitz/Ravensbruck or one of the other camps, it's really different from everything it's possible to read about WW2.

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