The trip to Berlin this Christmas was the kind of surprise that I wasn’t ready to take on but tried to tackle as gracefully as possible (or so I hope). I had less than 48 hours to visit the city which wasn’t enough. Obviously I should have planned the itinerary beforehand… instead, I googled some places to visit on the night that we arrived there. Oh well…spontaneous trips are fun too. Also, after 7 hours of being tucked tightly in the back of the car with two kids and their huge safety seats, it is an understatement to say that my mind wasn’t in its best state to do a proper research.
First of all, on the night that we arrived there, we headed to the Christmas market :
We didn’t intend to eat nor drink here but we fell one by one under the spell of aromatic roasted wurst and sweet hot chocolate. The aliments were inhaled faster than I could press the shutter button on my camera. No regrets, to be honest. No wait, one regret : I didn’t get to taste any mulled wine.
The next day we went to the East Side Gallery and I LOVED IT. We got down at Berlin Ostbahnhof station and then we headed towards Warschauer Str. It was interesting to walk along the wall and see all the paintings. My camera is filled with them but here are some of my favorites.
By the way, the wall is quite long so if you have limited time and absolutely want to see the famous “two men kissing” painting ( God, Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love ) then it’s better to start walking along the wall from the Warschauer Str station.
We then took the metro to the station Brandenburger Tor to see three things: the Brandenburger Tor, of course, the Reichstag and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Let’s start with the Reichstag and particularly its rooftop and its dome. The entry is free however you do need to register on their website and then show up on time. I strongly recommend this place to those who need a quick introduction of Berlin. As you climb to the top of the dome, a panoramic view of the city presents itself to you and the audioguide explains the most important monuments.
If you go to Berlin, you go to see Brandenburg Tor. At least that’s what I understood from pictures that various people showed me upon their return from the German capital.
If Brandenburg Tor felt more like an item to check off the list, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was something I really looked forward to visiting. The adequacy of this memorial was subject to some controversies and since I’m not qualified to give an opinion, I’m just going to describe my experience. Walking along the alleys next to the huge gray blocks felt heavy. Feelings of oppression and isolation grew as I went in deeper and deeper. If that’s how it’s supposed to make people feel then it sure worked on me. It’s not a place I would like to visit with an unstable state of mind…
Exhausted but determined to see the Museumsinsel ( Museum Island ), I buckled up for my last destination. It’s a complex of 5 museums located in the northern part of the island in the Spree river.
I decided to visit the Pergamon Museum that focuses on Antiquity and Islamic Art. I was certainly impressed by the colorful and detailed patterns on the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way of the ancient city of Babylon.
I didn’t get to explore the whole museum which is definitely a shame ( considering also that I lost a lot of time finding my way to the island). But it did give me a new appreciation for the Islamic art and history that were not on my radar until now. I’m definitely going to be looking into it.
What impression did Berlin give me? I very much enjoyed the amazing street art and the modern architecture. However, my trip was a marathon and I can’t say that I had the time to really soak in the vibes of the city.
I do need to say that some strange melancholy seeped inside me while I was exploring the capital. Was it simply caused by the lack of sunshine or by the omnipresence of a sad past that shaped the city? Without a doubt, Berlin played a major role in Europe’s history and the weight that comes with it seems to be heavy.