In April 2007 Mark and Linda set out to begin a new life, somewhere Europeish.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
Last week I met up with Linda in Berlin where she was at a conference for work.
Even though I was only there with Linda for a few days, and it was anyway quite busy during that time, we managed to see quite a large part of Berlin although I'm sure its the sort of city where you could live for years and still be discovering new things.
We saw most of the major sites starting, of course, by walking up Unter den Linden towards the Brandenburg gate.
Then we walked along the line of the old Berlin Wall towards the parliamentary area where we went onto the roof and into the dome of the Reichstag.
The dome is really impressive on the inside and puts an interestingly modern cap on the historic Reichstag building.
We also made sure to sample the local cuisine, such as the currywurst (not terribly impressive) as well as the famous Berliner jam-filled donut (which I was unable to find an optimal sample of). Aside from this the food was actually very good and surprisingly cheap. Even the coffee was unexpectedly good, and the large Turkish community meant we had a delicious Turkish dinner one night.
In Berlin you can't escape the history of WWII, and we did visit the Holocaust memorial which was as sobering as you expect, and we also visited the checkpoint charlie museum which was meant to have uplifting escape stories but again just made us quite depressed.
We didn't to go Berlin to be reminded of these difficult times, however, and we spent most of our time visiting more uplifting sights and museums.
We visited the ultra-modern Potsdamerplatz area, where large glass-fronted buildings and open squares have been constructed over what was a void between East and West Berlin.
We also went to the "museum island", where we visited the Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum and saw some amazing antiquities from Egypt and Babylon.
And we went to the DDR museum, which is a more lighthearted look at life in Eastern Germany, including a Trabant, and a replica apartment from the time. This was actually quite interesting and fun, and even managed to illustrate some of the positive aspects of living in a socialist country that we don't often hear about.
We went up the TV tower to see the view (not that amazing and a pricey to go up), and went to the zoo where Linda happily watched the Bonobos for quite some time, as well as the big (and not so big) cats, and we were impressed by the nocternal display where bush babies bounced around the rooms.
We also tried to see the famous Knut but apparently he's been misbehaving lately.
While in Berlin we managed to share a beer in "the oldest beer garden in Berlin" with Stefan, a friend of Linda's from University.
And finally visited the flee markets at Tiergarten.
We had a really good time in Berlin. As usual we were surprised how much we enjoy countries in ways that we don't expect and I think we found Berlin a more relaxed and friendly city than we previously imagined (and of course being there during the Football World Cup while Germany is performing well probably didn't hurt!).