A Day Exploring Berlin's Museums, Berlin, Blog, Travel

Escaping the Rain – A Day exploring Berlin’s Museums

Having a large latte macchiato on Wednesday morning, looking out the window and seeing the groups of tourists running down the street with umbrellas and ponchos, there was no question that I would be spending my day sampling Berlin’s finest museums. I was like a spoilt child, naughtily indulging myself as to what I would like to see. I restrained myself to only two museums. Tränenpalast, also known as ‘The Palace of Tears’ and The Checkpoint Charlie Museum.

The Tränenpalast museum is quite small and just outside Friedrichstrasse train station but filled with a real visualisation into the life of East and West Berliners during the Berlin Wall. My favourite section was the suitcase displays, showing real stories of escapees from East Berlin to West Berlin complete with artefacts of their lives.  Another great part of the museum is the film reel. This collection of films are at certain points of the wall’s gestation and you hear both perspectives from East and West Berlin. There is also an original checkpoint booth which you can walk through. The reason why the museum is named ‘The Palace of Tears’  is because Friedrichstrasse station is where East Germans said goodbye to visitors going back to West Germany. Oh! And you get to experience this wonderful museum for free!

PalaceofTears.jpg(Top: An interview with a border patrol officer with signs from the crossing.
Bottom Left: Suitcase life story.  Bottom Right: Photograph of women having an emotional goodbye)

Going to Tränenpalast before Checkpoint Charlie gave me a real emotional insight into the day to day operation of the Berlin Wall. Checkpoint Charlie is the name given by the allies to the most famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War.

Checkpoint Charlie.jpg(Top Left: Checkpoint Charlie booth. Top Right, Bottom Right & Bottom Left: Signs from Checkpoint Charlie which are now preserved in the museum)

There was quite a lot of dense text for those who maybe didn’t do History past Year 9 to give them a real understanding to the state that Berlin was in post World War II. Having studied German History all the way up to and inclding my University Undergraduate Degree, I wanted to explore the everyday stories, like my experience at Tränenpalast.

Over the gestation of the Berlin Wall, 239 people were shot trying to escape from East to West Berlin. The creativity people went to was incredible. One such story is that of this woman who smuggled herself in two suitcases. She was crammed into this small space, waiting for 70 minutes whilst border patrol searched the car before being allowed to pass through to the West.

Woman Suitcase
(Photo of a woman being smuggled across the border in two suitcases)

The museum is quite vast, spanning 3 floors. It even had a section around Germany’s support towards its neighbouring countries following the collapse of communism and the change of Eastern Europe. There is not a corner of this museum that isn’t filled with an interesting story, artefact or painting. There are also sections of the Berlin Wall in the museum as well if you don’t have time to experience the East Side Gallery. It is not a cheap museum to visit, at €14.50 but you definitely get bang for your buck and as I said before, caters to all demographics and expertise on the subject matter.

Between these two museums, they are quite emotionally draining hearing about the struggles this city has faced over decades. The remainder of my day was spent buying last minute souvenirs and writing postcards for my nearest and dearest and then I relaxed at the Hotel pool and went for a swim and sauna. After I had dried off, I had a cheeky cocktail or two in the Hotel’s Piano Lounge and then hit the town for another scrumptious dinner. What a way to end my holiday!

Hotel(Some photos of the Hotel Piano Lounge and Terrace)

To conclude reader, I would like to share a quote with you that perfectly sums up my brief time in this wonderful city

Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” – David Bowie

Postcards(Writing some Postcards to my nearest & dearest before going home)

Have you ever been to Berlin?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

AJ x

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An Afternoon Stroll Along the Berlin Wall, Berlin, Blog, Travel

An Afternoon stroll along the Berlin Wall

After a morning exploring the wonders of Mitte, I took the bus to the East Side Gallery. Before I travelled to Berlin, I was so excited to visit this segment of the Berlin Wall, and it did not disappoint.

feet

I got off the bus at Ostbahnhof  and it was just a few minutes walk away. The 1316m piece of the wall displays 105 paintings. It is perhaps the longest-lasting and largest open air gallery in the world, having been founded in 1990.

4wall(Segments of the Berlin Wall)

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and divided the city into two sections for nearly 30 years. I visited Tränenpalast and Checkpoint Charlie on my final day in Berlin so I will share more in my third and final blog post.

Walljumpcv
(Memorial sections of the wall dedicated to escapees)

Sadly, a sizeable amount of the wall has been vandalised and eroded but it does not take away from the messages of love and peace they are trying to convey and restoration is always ongoing. It is such a vibrant exhibition and costs absolutely nothing to experience this man made wonder of the world.

Below are three of my favourite paintings from the gallery.

quote.jpg(My favourite quote from the Berlin Wall)
Famous Wal
(The Famous Fraternal Kiss)
windows(Windows of the World)

Luckily managing to beat most of the rain on my first day, I was particularly relived I did as much walking as I did (approx. 8 miles) as when I opened my curtains on Day 2, it was heavy rain. I can’t wait to share my final instalment of my trip with you soon!

 

AJ x

A Morning Meandering Through Mitte, Berlin, Blog, Travel

A Morning Meandering Through Mitte

Reader, I have not been abroad in 18 months thanks to a demanding work schedule. As soon as I left my job, it was time to start booking! Berlin has always been on my bucket list so naturally it’s where I had to go first. So here is the first of a few blogposts about my time in Berlin.

Weather.jpg(Berlin’s Wettest July on Record!)

So the weather was not on my side during my trip according to the forecast. However it wasn’t going to dampen my spirits. Luckily on Tuesday there was enough dry(ish) weather to explore the city by foot.

I started my day at Breitscheidplatz, where my hotel was based. It is the main square of West Berlin and is full of shops, a plethora of smells and chatter from the endless streams of restaurants and coffee shops. The atmosphere was electric at all times of the day. I explored the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church. What a beautiful building which was severely damaged during World War II and the original spire has been left as a memorial to the destruction the city faced during the war. It is dubbed ‘The Hollow Tooth’ by Berliners.

Breakfast(Left: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.  Top Right: Breakfast.  Bottom Right: Bullet and schrapnel damage on the church exterior)

Next it was off east to a cluster of the most popular sites in the city within minutes of each other. I started off at the Reichstag building and then down to the Brandenburg Gate and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was particularly sad at the disrespect some tourists groups had jumping off the blocks and posing for photographs.

However a great secret throughout the city are the ‘Stolpersteinor ‘Stumbling Blocks’ which are small 4 inch brass plates with the names and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination and persecution. They are placed on the pavement by the individuals last known address or workplace before they fell victim to the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

ReichBranHol.jpg(Left: Reichstag Building.  Top Right: Brandenburg Gate.
Bottom Right: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe)

I started meandering through the streets, looking for St Hedwig’s Cathedral and ended up stumbling upon Gendarmenmarkt and the beautiful churches in the square: The Französischer Dom, Neue Kirche and The Konzerthaus.  Around this part of town, it is so easy to get distracted by the beautiful architecture!

ChurchesConcert(Left: Französischer Dom.  Top Right: Konzerthaus.  Bottom Right: St. Hedwig’s Cathedral)

Having finally found St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, I made my way to Museum Island to explore the Berliner Dom. I have seen some incredible feats of design on my travels and I have to say this is one of the most beautiful. If you get the train from Alexanderplatz to Friedrichstrasse, as I did getting the train from the airport, you get a spectacular view of this cathedral as a nice introduction to the city.

Berlin Dom

(Berliner Dom with the TV Tower in the background)

Heavily damaged during World War II, it has undergone a painstaking restoration, finally the Wedding Church and Baptistery were opened in 1980 with the nave finally opening in 1993, which was televised nationwide.

Dom.jpg(Top Left: The alter.  Bottom Left: The Organ.
Top Right: The dome.  Bottom Right: The Baptistery & Wedding Church)

As well as exploring the beautiful interior, I climbed up to the top of the dome. Reader, I am absolutely terrified of heights! But I climbed all 270 steps to the top and saw the most incredible view of the city. If was definitely a big accomplishment for myself and I am so glad that I took a photo, albeit with a very shaky hand to prove that I did it!

View from Dom(View from the Top of the Dome)

After a lovely morning, it was time to have a spot of lunch and head to my next adventure. I can’t wait to tell you where I wandered off to.

AJ x