Here it is, Monday 6 March. Over our jet lag and determined to get some ‘out of Berlin’ rail bookings in place. Expected we would fix that in an hour or so, leaving the rest of the day for some art gallery experience for a change. That was not to be – let’s say we made up for our three month leave of absence from the Equilibrium Gym, and came up against the horror of the Third Reich and the post-war creation of the divided Germany and Berlin.
We should mention at the outset that Al is determined to change the footwear fashion of Berlin. With his right foot bunion wound still rather tender, he decided to get about today in socks and Crocs (sandals, that is). Worked a treat. He hopes he won’t have to keep this up for too long – tomorrow is forecast to range from 1 to 5 degrees. Annie says we have to be careful we are not taken as Dutch.
Deutsche Bahn rail tickets have to be purchased at Berlin Central – Hauptbahnhof. That is an experience in itself – an enormous station on four levels. We came in from Wittenberg Platz at the top on one kind of regional network, other regional trains and the intercity trains seem to be at the next down (also ‘ground’ level for buses), we think a third regional network goes from the next down, and the Underground is at the bottom. We eventually found the DB ticket office and booked our return tickets to Bonn for next week. Discovered that rail to Dresden or to Hamburg is exorbitant, so will bus the former and possibly miss the latter altogether. Potsdam and Wittenberg (on account of the 500th anniversary this year of Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses) are shorter and don’t need advance bookings.
The bonus at the DB office was finding we were standing next to the International Rail Booking Officer who willingly booked our remaining 4 sectors in Spain. Fantastic – a great load off our mind.
So back on the bus and off to a gallery or two. Our first choice was closed – it being Monday. We forgot to check. By now we were hungry so found a spot at the Sony Centre to eat our sandwiches – with hundreds of kids as company. They had been at the concert hall – no doubt the Berlin Philharmonic doing a schools concert . From there a bus trip to our next choice – the Pergamon. There we found it would be much more economical to buy a ticket to be used over 3 days – covering most museums. We chose to start the next day as by now it was early afternoon. So no galleries at all by then. Watch this space tomorrow!!
We took off again – after checking out the cathedral for music – and got a bus to the Holocaust Museum. The exhibition area was closed but we experienced the adjacent Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Over 2000 sarcophagi stelae of different heights rise from the ground in an area as big as a football field. It is a very somber experience to wander in silence among them. We will return on Saturday when there is a tour in English.
From there we walked to another museum called the Topography of Terrors. It was built where once stood the most feared institutions of Nazi Germany. The exhibition traces the stages of terror and persecution of the Nazi years. There are many photographic images of both those tortured and murdered, and the perpetrators. It is completely harrowing and chilling and we felt disbelief that the whole thing was able to happen. It left us feeling it was so unreal that it must have happened on another planet.
Outside the exhibition was a small section of the 150 km of The Wall which came down in 1989. Although all of this was horrific the whole afternoon left us realising how open the German people have become in acknowledging such a black period of history. It was of course only a very few years in an otherwise pretty positive history, but what havoc they caused.
By now we were very tired. We had to shop for dinner on the bus and train trip home and that presented a challenge. We fronted up to the supermarket and discovered they were closed for a stocktake. The only other alternative was a very posh department store called Ka De We – the largest department store in Europe. The prices were unbelievable – but we were too tired to investigate any further. And the pork chops were super.
Back home we did what we often do after a lot of walking. We spent 20 minutes on our backs, bottom to the wall, and feet up the wall. It always works.
So not only did we make up for no gym with about 10km of walking, but we again confirmed the value of our monthly transport ticket. Finally, in case you haven’t tumbled to it yet, if you touch the images in the text you will see the caption.