We slept til 11am Thursday morning, and it was glorious, though a little hard to sleep through the noise of the trams passing on the street. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts at Alexplatz for a quick breakfast, then hopped on the train to the Brandenburg Gate.
We emerged from underground and there it was. I admit I cried a bit when I saw it, I was so excited. Think of all the history that’s happened here, good and bad.
Here’s the Hotel Adlon nearby:
And the obligatory Trabant, of course. You can rent a Trabi! It’ll probably fall apart after a mile, but that’s OK.
From there, we crossed into the Tiergarten and walked toward the Victory Monument in the middle. At that point I was definitely aware of the fact we’d walked 75 miles already. It seemed like a very long way!
We decided to take the bus over to Checkpoint Charlie, but ended up getting on one going the wrong direction. We hopped off again, and noticed we were right by Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, so it was nice to accidentally see it. We got on the same bus going the other direction, and that one dropped us off right at Checkpoint Charlie. (Also, the double-decker buses in Berlin are excellent for sightseeing.)
My cold-war-nerd excitement was at a peak. This was so awesome to see.
It’s right in the middle of a heavily-used street, which was not what I expected.
Across the street from the checkpoint, there’s a currywurst stand run by the Currywurst Museum, which is a REAL THING a couple blocks away. Better yet, they had vegan currywurst. This suddenly became a top-ten day in my life.
There’s an exhibit across the street with pieces of the Berlin Wall. This was cool to see, but for the maximum effect you must see the East Side Gallery. It’s really incredible. (That came later.)
From there, our plan was to take the U-Bahn to Olympic Stadium. Googling it on the train, we saw that it appeared to be closed, even though it was during their normal hours. Apparently there was a special event going on. We were glad we found that out before taking the long trip there; we got off at Potsdamer Platz instead.
This area was almost completely destroyed during WWII, and then the Berlin Wall ran through it during the Cold War. Now it’s a huge park lined with modern buildings.
We stopped to have a beer at a cafe overlooking the park. King Ludwig makes a mighty fine helles lager.
We rode back to the Brandenburg Gate and went to explore the other side of it. Here’s the Reichstag, where Hitler used to give speeches before it burnt down. The interior was completely redone after unification, and they added the glass observation dome as a replacement for the original.
The Holocaust Memorial is nearby, too. It’s sobering. The 2,000+ slabs look like coffins, and as you go farther in, they get taller and taller. The ones in the distance are taller than humans.
From there, we took the bus to the DDR Museum, where we took turns driving (and crashing) a Trabant.
The museum was pretty great – it’s all about life in East Germany during the Cold War. The interactive stuff was pretty entertaining, too. Here’s Matt dressed like a typical East German.
We walked back to our hotel, passing the weird world clock at Alexplatz. We’d passed it a few times already without really noticing what it was about – it shows the time in cities around the world.
We did some much-needed resting at the hotel (having now walked over 80 miles!), then went to get the train to dinner. Our selection was Tiki Heart, because they were a tiki bar that also had vegetarian food. It definitely reminded us of home.
I had a veggie burger with pumpking and curry sauce, and a Singapore Sling. Matt had the Lemmy Burger and a caipirinha. Our meals were delicious.
We headed back to the train station, which was a gigantic platform under an overpass. As we walked down the stairs we saw our train sitting there, preparing to leave. Matt jumped in right as the doors started to close, and they shut between us. Unlike American trains, the doors don’t re-open when they sense movement, either. Like a bad romantic comedy, we waved at each other as the train left the station.
The next train showed up 8 minutes later, so I hopped on. It went to the next stop and then decided that was the end of the line, for some reason. (It was pretty late, so the trains were stopping for the night.) I texted Matt to tell him I’d be about 10 minutes behind him, because the next train showed up right behind, and was actually going to Alexanderplatz.
We walked to a bar along the plaza that specialized in Weisse mit Schnapps, and had one there (with Kirsch!) before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Walked: 12 miles/80.45 total