Thursday, July 16, 2015

Berlin, Germany Round 2

I haven't gotten a chance to write my blog about the first time we went to Berlin, but I figured since this is still fresh on my mind I would write it.
My brothers and I went to Berlin for the night, I figured they HAD to see Berlin, it was the capital of Germany after all. So we packed up the car and headed off to Berlin. It's only 3.5 hours away from my house and instead of doing 7 hours worth of driving in one day, we stayed the night. We booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express-Central since my brother is an IHG member, he used his points and got us the room for free! All we had to pay for was parking and Rylie. That was seriously a life saver, since Hotels close to the city center run about 100 euros a night. I would suggest this hotel, especially if you're traveling to Berlin in the summer time, it has A/C! Haha. One of the things my brother's haven't gotten used to is the fact that "Europeans don't believe in A/C". This hotel had A/C so we were all in heaven. (It also included WiFi, & Breakfast) Parking was 20 euros a day, and the pet fee was 11 euros. 
Rylie made herself at home
I booked a free walking tour through Sandeman's New Berlin Tour I've never been on a free tour where I book it myself, and since I had already been to Berlin, and my brothers hadn't I thought it would be the best bit to see the basics of the city.
It was honestly one of the best tours I have ever been on. After checking into our hotel we headed off to the Brandenburg Gate where our tour guide was going to meet. We checked in with 10 minutes to spare. Our tour guide was Lyndsay, a Scottish girl who after getting her Master's degree decided to teach English in Berlin, then after going on one of the Sandeman's tour, she decided to become a guide herself! Really cool if you ask me. Sandman's tour guide don't get paid, they work off of commission. In my opinion that means that the tour has to be awesome! And it really was.
Our tour group was huge!
We met our group and we were off exactly at 4pm! Gotta love the efficiency of Germany. I knew it was going to be a walking tour so I figured it wouldn't be a problem to bring Rylie. It wasn't. The group loved her. The only problem I had was that Rylie gets really excited when she sees another dog, she makes this whinning noise, Drew calls it her Pluto voice, Pluto from the Labyrinth, when hes saying, "Rocks are friends..." Hopefully people are getting the reference, otherwise I'm really old. Haha.
Any ways, the tour started off at the Brandenburg Gate, with our guide explaining the importance  of it. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. Having suffered considerable damage in World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was fully restored from 2000 to 2002 by the Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin (Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation). During the post-war Partition of Germany, the gate was isolated and inaccessible immediately next to the Berlin Wall, and the area around the gate was featured most prominently in the media coverage of the opening of the wall in 1989. Throughout its existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events and is today considered a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also of European unity and peace.
It's such a magical place to be. I can see why most people gather here.

The next place our guide took us to was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, it is also called the Holocaust Memorial. Drew and I missed this the first time we were in Berlin, it's literally next to the Brandenburg Gate, but if you're not looking for it, you would miss it. It consists of a 19,000 m2 (4.7-acre) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. At first glance, it kinda just looks like a bunch of park benches next to one another, our guide said that it was up to us to interpret what it's supposed to mean. There is an actual museum that you could go into, but since we were on a tour we didn't. Since we brought Rylie along on the tour, dogs aren't allowed to walk into the memorial, so we just walked along the outside.

From the Holocaust Memorial, we headed to a Parking lot. Just a regular old Parking lot, there is one sign that says what it is, but other than that if you were looking for it on a map you wouldn't know what you were standing on. The significance of the parking lot, is that underneath it, is Hitler's Bunker, where he hid out the last couple years of his life. Lyndsay said, that no one is allowed to see it because the government doesn't want it to become a shrine to Hitler supporters. I don't really blame them either.
Our tour took us around the city, Like I said at the beginning it really was one of the best tours I've ever been on. I got to find out information about the city i never knew before. Like along the city, where the wall used to be, there are little blocks that show you if you were in the West or East of Berlin. I'm not sure why I thought it was so interesting.

Rylie was great on the tour!

Right side up means you were in Berlin West

The Opera House, It was supposed to be finished in 2013!

Speaking of the wall, it was pretty disappointing. There are only a few sections of the Berlin wall still standing today, and the few parts standing are in ruin and there's a fence covering it, we were told that's because people used to come to Berlin and pick at the wall to get their own piece of it. We have a piece, and I got a piece for my brothers, don't worry I didn't take a piece illegally.
Rylie at the Wall

We saw Checkpoint Charlie, we ended up going back the next day to check things out on our own.

#Selfie @ Checkpoint Charlie
We saw city hall, the old opera house, and I even got to learn more things about Hitler that I never knew, did you know that Hitler apparently HATED Berlin? He thought everything wrong with Germany was Berlin? I thought it was pretty hilarious.
It was a nice day trip. The last time we went we spent a whole weekend up there and got to see more of the city, but for the most part my brothers can say they've been to Berlin! I really like Berlin too, it really is a city where you can visit more than once and learn a new thing every time. It was great to be able to bring the DSLR and take pictures, last time we only had our cellphones. It actually makes a huge difference and wish we would've spring for the DSLR a long time ago! Hopefully I'll be back again before we leave and I'll get to re-take more pictures!