Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Berlin has made my list of favourite cities visited. I had a great weekend enjoying the history, politics and beer of the city, and only wished I had longer to explore.

On Saturday I took a 3 1/2 hour free tour of the main sites of the city, which was one of the best tours I have been on. The guide was a very charismatic Welsh guy, who was also a former politics student so knew a lot of in depth and random facts about Berlin. Sites included the Brandenburg Gates, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the German parliament buildings, Pariser Platz, the controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Hitler's bunker. Berlin's history, both old and contemporary, can keep you fascinated for days.

Its a great place just to walk around, and to see the occupied apartment blocks which, although covered in grafitti and looking like crack dens, are actually occupied by artists and musicians and apparently have bars and restaurants inside.

The East-West divide is also fascinating to see, especially the clash of political ideologies and entire ways of living that were experienced in Berlin before the Wall came down. I also visited the GDR museum which, although not the greatest museum Ive seen, was highly interactive and had some hilarious relics of the GDR times. One of my favourites was the GDR made Trabant car, an incredibly small car meant to rival the evil Capitalist cars. East Germans were very proud of this cheap and economical invention, even if they did have to go on a 20-year waiting list to get one.

Another one of my favourites (in theory, not practice) is Vita Cola, the GDR rival to Coca Cola. Its still on sale in most shops in Eastern Germany but by all accounts its very, very bad.

I seem to have come across festival season in Germany. After going to one in Stuttgart and in Dresden, I also stumbled on the annual Cultural Festival in Berlin, which had a lot of great food, drink and music from across the world.

Definately a city which needs a return visit!

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