Arriving in Berlin, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the city had come a long way since the Berlin wall went down, but I didn’t know it came this far! For some reason when I thought of Berlin I saw images in my head of the old days, when there was still an East and West Berlin.
When I got off the train I was in awe. Hauptbahnhof Berlin is one of the biggest train stations I have seen on my backpacking trip around Europe. It’s huge! Many levels, lots of shops and food stalls. The shape of the roof reminded me of an old hangar and I don’t know why but I found it fitting to arrive in Berlin in “an old hangar” (although it’s far from old and in fact very modern!)
The Berlin Wall
Of course while in Berlin, I had to see the parts that are left of the Berlin wall. The grim reminder of the division between West and East Berlin that was finally torn down in 1989. For me it wasn’t about being a tourist and get my photo taken with the remains of the wall or at checkpoint Charlie but to in some way pay my respect to those who suffered from the wall and died trying to get to the other side. So many lives have been affected by the wall and so many lost their lives for the hope of finding a better life on the other side.
Right now there are still parts left that are displayed in an artsy way with beautiful paintings on them, as well as pieces that are left untouched and “as is”. And standing beside it reading the signs on it made me feel very small and very sad for all who had to deal with it.
Close to where we saw the remainder of part of the wall is Checkpoint Charlie, or Checkpoint C, the best-known crossing point on the wall in the cold war. Right now it’s transformed in a tourist attraction. You can get your photo taken with soldiers, if you pay. To be honest I was appalled by this. I can imagine people want to make money in certain ways but it wasn’t a fun place back then so it felt very wrong on so many levels to see people queueing up to get photographed.
Needless to say I didn’t get mine taken, nor did I stay very long. It seemed like most people there forgot what Checkpoint Charlie and the wall represented and I think that’s something we should never forget so it can never happen again.
When Sarah and I left the area of Checkpoint Charlie we headed towards the centre of Berlin. Because Berlin is not all about the wall and the tainted history. It’s a very beautiful city with lots other things to do and to see. There are wonderful parks and plenty of opportunities to shop if you’d like to.
It has very modern shopping centres, streets filled with shops, cute boutiques and restaurants. There are even people walking around with fully equipped bratwurst stations selling them on the go. And all of this amongst beautiful buildings, fountains and monuments. The atmosphere in the centre was far different from the Checkpoint Charlie area and it shows how far Berlin has come since the wall went down.
I loved Berlin, it has old and new and the people are so diverse it’s beautiful to see and experience, they’ve come a long way.