Like the museums in DC, the Berlin museums close right before dinner time, so unfortunately we didn’t have too much time to hit up more than 1 on Day 2 (thanks to the late night we had). Going off of some recommendations we chose to visit the DDR (GDR) Museum, which is dedicated to the life of the people in the dictatorship.
We didn’t take too many photos in the museum, mostly because it contained a lot of reading and a significant amount of deep thought (which was painful, given the hangovers we still had). This first photo is a “window” into the Berlin Wall divide, what it looked like between the wall and West Berlin.
We had never learned this piece of history in class – ever. Sure, we talked a little about the Cold War, and when the Berlin Wall fell what that symbolized, however the Wall itself was never actually explained. The entire time we were in the museum Kyle and I were in shock, “WHAT!” we kept saying, and “HOW?” was a consistent question brought up. Take for example the photos below, these were part of an explanation on how the East Berliners were able to go on vacations. The government set them up to travel to other communist locations (Russia) – and ONLY these locations. So they’d go to their DDR-approved beach, and because there was no use for a bathing suit inside the Wall they just didn’t have them, they went naked. Thankfully the DDR Museum covered this nudity in 3-D, just in case the whole wall of photos wasn’t enough.
Day 3 in Berlin was finally sunny for us. We were dying to see more of the city and of course see this big Wall we’d been hearing so much about, so we rented bikes to take around. If you’re ever in Berlin I highly recommend biking along where the Wall was to see this park. It not only contained large pieces of the Berlin Wall, but it had these poles along the way through that explained exactly what happened at that point and included photos. Just like the day before, we stayed in a constant state of “HOW!?” as we read accounts of families split apart by the Wall, and the general acceptance of the Wall around the world (it was up for almost 30 years).
Showing both sides of the Wall: After getting through the park we biked through the city with a goal of reaching the Berlin Victory Column. We passed down a street that was in the process of being closed off, and saw a lot of police standing around the area. I guess being DC residents we don’t bat an eye for street closures, but eventually we came upon what looked to be a large palace with a motorcade out front. “This looks familiar” … thankfully we had our Google-machines on this trip and looked up more detail that we were, in fact, in front of the German President’s palace: Bellevue Palace.
We were about to move on to find that Victory Column when the doors opened up and people started coming out. Kyle was a paparazzi in another life and was beyond thrilled to have a reason to pull out the 20 pound super-zoom lens we are borrowing from his dad (“see, this is why I bring it!”). Noticing right away these clearly were not Germans on their way out the door we went back to the Google-machine to investigate what was really going on today at the palace.
This is where the entire blog post comes full-circle:
South Korean President Park Geun Hye was visiting with German leaders to gain insight into reunification. It was at that moment we realized the streets were all lined with alternating South Korea flags.
And here is the Berlin Victory Column:
It would be safe to say one of our most favorite parts of Berlin, after the intense public transit systems, is the food vendors setup underneath the train tracks. After our bike ride we grabbed a couple currywursts (these things were cheap and EVERYWHERE) before heading back to the hotel and on to the airport. It’s like a hot dog, but different, pre-cut and covered in a thick ketchup-ey sauce. I imagine it tastes better with or after a big ‘ol German beer… after a day long bike ride though, it was a little tough to stomach.