Friday, August 17, 2007


I had big ambitions that I would get up Monday morning and post all about our trip to Berlin. Well, it is Monday morning, just 7 days later than I originally intended. I thought I better get this down while it's still somewhat fresh on the brain. There was so much to see that it was hard to take it all in.
Our first "sight" was well before we reached Berlin's city limits. Steve spotted this monstrosity off the highway as he was enjoying the scenery at 120 mph. I, on the other hand, was watching the road. (yes, Steve was driving) He was so fascinated by it that we had to pull over and stare at it for a few minutes while he considered all of the possibilities of what this might be. We have since asked our neighbor who explained that the East Germans did a lot of mining back in the day just for the sake of mining and they piled the stuff up like this. He said it is not uncommon to see these things here and there. Weird...

A few of the sights within Berlin's city limits.....
Saturday morning, we took a guided walking tour through the city. Since we only had a couple of days, we wanted to get a good overview of the city and see everything even if not always in a lot of depth. We had an excellent tour guide who is also a student working on his PhD in history so he was very informed as you can imagine. The photo above isn't so much a "sight" as it is a small example of the many construction/restoration projects going on around the city. The fall of the wall seems so long ago in my mind (I was 11) but 18 short years later, the process of reunification is still very much a work in progress.
This is the TV Tower where we had dinner Saturday night. It had been recommended to us and it sort of seemed appropriate since it is essentially the Reunion Tower of Berlin. Not so much in a historical sense but in that the restaurant rotates every 20 minutes, providing a wonderful (though fast-paced) view of the city.
The two photos above are a great example of the ongoing restoration of the city. The pillars reflect remaining war damage and the photo below shows where they are slowly filling it in. You can also see at the far end where the ceiling is in the process of being restored, but work has stopped (closer in) due to a lack of funds.
Berlin Cathedral

Neue Wache

Humboldt University

This is a memorial to the 1933 Nazi book burning just outside Humboldt University. It's a little hard to see in the photo but you're standing on the square looking down into an empty library. It is supposedly large enough to hold 20,000 books, the approximate number that were burned here. The plaque above the photo is all in German but includes an 1821 quote from Heinrich Heine, "Where they burn books, they will end in burning human beings." Of all the memorials in the city, I found this to be one of the more profound and moving in its simplicity.

Brandenburg Gate

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (completed in 2005)

What remains of the Berlin Wall

Checkpoint Charlie

On the lighter side....
The apparent remains of a movie set? In catching up on some hard news before we left on Friday, I read this on

"And Tom? While he makes "Valkyrie," a movie no one wants to see, in Berlin, he and Katie make regular visits to the Scientology center there, according to reports. Scientology is considered a cult by the Germans, and it’s because of Cruise’s affiliation that the government has forbidden him to shoot the movie in certain locales."

Looks like we just missed our brush with celebrity.....darn.

It rained on us for a bit and we ducked into this chocolate shop to kill some time. The sculptures are of the Brandenburg Gate, the Titanic, and the Reichstag among others that we did not photograph, made entirely of chocolate. I had not had a bit of chocolate in over 5 days (remember, we're SouthBeaching) and I wanted so badly to take a big bite out of the Brandenburg.

The actual Reichstag - not made of chocolate - and that line of people out the front is the line to get in. We passed, even though this is apparently a must-see. Steve's been there, done that (last summer) and I really didn't want to stand in line.

Memorial just outside the Reichstag to the politicians that opposed Hitler. They were among his first victims. Each plate contains a name and cause of death, many of which were in the concentration camps.

3,000 year old bust of Queen Nefertiti - the most prized piece in Berlin's Egyptian art collection. This was inside the Altes Museum.

Part of the original writing of Homer's Iliad or Odyssey (I can't remember now which it was)


The Binkley Family said...

That is really, really neat! All of those memorials definitely produce emotion! I am so glad you guys are enjoying all of the sights.

sarah said...

the original writings of Homer??! wow..that is really amazing. well thanks for the pics, Berlin is now an official must-see. what is checkpoint charlie??

Jami said...

Ok, I added links that talk about Checkpoint Charlie as well as Humboldt University and the Brandenburg Gate. I guess I'm lazy about typing....and Wikipedia has already done the work for me. :)