So, There Was this Big Wall in Germany…

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.

DSC_2501We 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.

BerlinWallMuseumNudesDay 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).

photo 4 DSC_2516 DSC_2525photo 1 DSC_2531 DSC_2532This area used to be between the Walls separating East and West:

DSC_2534 Showing both sides of the Wall: DSC_2552 DSC_2553DSC_2527 DSC_2515After 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.

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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. photo 3photo 4It’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.


Quick Trip to Berlin

Did you know it is crazy-cheap to get around Europe once you’re there? I did not (being new to world-travelling)  until I started looking into options for us to take a couple day trip from Copenhagen. We were able to get round-trip tickets to Berlin and back for under $100 each, that’s total including fees and taxes. So, Berlin it was!

The flight was also very, very short, (we had just turned off the “Fasten Seatbelts” sign when it was time to prepare for landing) but immediately after we landed in Germany it was clear that we weren’t in Kansas – er, Copenhagen – any more.

Two immediate culture shocks:

  • In Copenhagen things and people were pretty and streamlined, in Berlin they were efficient.
  • In Copenhagen people spoke English and were friendly, in Berlin they did not care that you had no idea what they were saying.

After a small train incident (which I’m too embarrassed about to share here, but would gladly tell you all about it if you put a couple beers in me) and a lot of unexpected walking, we finalllllly made it to Alexanderplatz to check into our hotel.  We stayed at the Hotel Indigo which had the nicest concierge employees but the strangest bathroom situation.  I won’t go into details (again, this probably needs another beer to best explain).

Since we came here without much of an itinerary we decided to hit the streets on foot to explore. Our first stop was the city’s cathedral: the Berlin Cathedral Church. We learned in Italy that you can really learn a great deal of history about an area through just one church building, and this held true in Berlin.   Without going into too many details, this church (in one form or another) has been around since the 1400s, with this cathedral built in the early 1800s. In 1940 a bomb dropped on the cathedral destroyed the dome. After many years of reconstruction, the building has been returned to it’s glory.

Today visitors can walk around most of the cathedral, climb up and walk around the outside of the dome, and visit the crypt – full of royalty. Of all our big “climbs” I’ll say this might have been the scariest so far because of the rain and very thin and sloping walkways.

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The photos of the crypt really don’t do it justice. It’s huge.

When we were in Italy we stayed in a very small town, that had zero nightlife. One night on our honeymoon we stayed up until midnight and actually shut the down down we were the only ones out and about (except the group of people we had been hanging out with in the piazza). So on this trip, we wanted to really take advantage of our “youth” and go out to party (within reason of course, we have Lilly back at home to come back to). Being a Monday we didn’t have too many options so  decided it would be fun to see a band on a Monday night (since that is completely opposite of what we do on real-life Monday nights… ever). We ended up out somewhere in West Berlin, under the train tracks, scalping tickets from two girls to see a band we’d never heard of. You only live once, right?

Long story short, we had the best time ever, and the band was pretty awesome (We are Scientists). Afterwards we ended up eating meisterburgers (yes, they are a REAL thing) on the side of the street while drinking gigantic beers (there are no small beers in Germany) with our new German friends. It was an amazing night, that I certainly paid for the next morning.  #worthit
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I have a little more to share from Berlin but think it needs it’s own post.
As an brief update though (since it’s been about a month since we were there), the band is actually pretty well known. They are currently on a world tour and we were able to catch them just a couple weeks ago in DC!  Not going to lie, it was pretty cool casually saying, “oh yeah, we saw them in Berlin.”