Before I would never imagine Berlin like that. Before I used to imagine Berlin like I know Paris. But not anymore, even if I didn’t spend a lot of time I can say now: I already love Berlin.
Informations about Berlin
Berlin the capital of Germany has a difficult past if you compare it with Paris or London. It became the residence of Friedrich 1st, King of Prussia who developed the city (Charlottenburg, Arsenal). In the 1870 Berlin has a million of inhabitant and is a important industrial center.
In 1933 the Third Reich is proclaimed and Nazi started their politic of repression of homosexuals and Jews that only the Second World War stopped. Too late and terrible for the city which has lost half of its population and buildings.
The after wars saw the city divided into two different parts, the western and eastern part separate by the famous Berlins wall from 1961 after a huge migration of Berliner cause by soviet repression. The separation has had an important impact on the city’s development that is still visible today. Architecture and small details can help you to know in which part you are.
The wall was destroyed in 1989 and from 1991 Berlin became once again the German capital (after a difficult vote). The city is in the center of Europe between occidental and oriental Europe.
Berlin is today an important tourist city by its atmosphere and nightlife where more and more people go.
The night visit of Berlin
The portion Warsaw to Berlin was my longest run of the trip. I had only two stop. A first long in my friend flat in Lodz. He was my perfect roommate during the Tallinn‘s time and we never managed to meet during my semester in Vilnius. Just it was too complicated. Actually the last time I saw him was during my road trip Paris-Vilnius when he hosted me for a night.
I have spent 3 or 4 hours with him, enough to talk but still too short. Rest a bit and eat some Lithuanian sausages. Then he offered me 5 specials Polish beers.
I continued to drive for a moment on a fresh new high way. A surprising and strange high way. Strange? Yep, because during 300km there was absolutely nothing. GPS cannot help me, road sign neither. Quite terrifying. 300 km without gas station, without restaurant and I have seen less than 30 cars. Sometime I’m imagining what could happen if I had no fuel in the middle of this way. No food, no fuel, no credit, no body around…
Came to Hotel meet French speakers
I booked yesterday a shared room in the Merininger Hotel, good place! Parking, WiFi, night is greatly situated, in the southern Berlin at 2 or 3 stations from the center of the city.
After having parked the car in their private parking, get many map of Berlin and ask for some « short tourist tour » to the receptionist I went to my room to leave my bag.
If I was disappointed when he told me that they don’t provide lock for wardrobe, I changed feeling after have met my roommates for the night. I shared the room with four sympathies French teen and a Belgian guy, not so much older than me. I asked them if they were here together, they said no. I start talking with that guy, coming for the weekend from Brussels, by car, for his 10th time!
Because the contact was easy and he seemed to be a friendly person I ask him his plan for the night. « Nothing » so what about showing me the city? » « Ok! ».
As many Flemish he speaks quite fluently french, he told me that it is its third language after Flemish and English. So we talk mostly in French, approximativily 70% French – 20% English and 10% German (in one way only). In my case I can speak French, a bit of spanish (the lie!) and English (one year ago I even could said that!)
Metro to Berlin confirms the french specificities
As a friend told one day « If you didnt take the metro you haven’t really visit a city ». I agreed and from that time I made kilometers underground: Stokholm, Kiev, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Stuttgart, Brussels, Lille,Amsterdam… Where a metro is I tried it
We my new friend we walked few minute to the Hallesches Tor station. I notice that they don’t use doors to enter in the metro. Actually it is the case everywhere, except in France where all people try to cheat the system.
So after have bought 5 tickets we walk underground and wait for our sub. Their stations are clean, okay some bottles around but just because of the special day in Germany (1st of may).
YOU ARE ENTERING IN THE AMERICAN SECTOR
We stopped at Stadtmitte ex-soviet part of Berlin, station in the center, and walk on Friedrichstrasse in direction to the south to the Check Point Charlie. Normally soldiers are standing here next to a wooden house with flags, but not during the night. A a sign they put portrait of two soldiers, an American and a Russian on the other side.
I saw also the street mark for the Berlin Wall ‘Berliner Mauer’ near the checkpoint. Remind the Ghetto line in Warsaw. Behind the small sight house is a McDonald’s restaurant, took away food because both were hungry, I didn’t eat since I left Lodz! Once burger and soda in my hand we went back to the northern side.
YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR
On the Friedrichstrasse Soviets put maybe more design soviet buildings than in all the Baltic countries. The Friedrichstrasse Passagen Department Store is a perfect example. Design with light and futurist shape! I like it a lot!
The street is one of the longest Berlin has. We turn on Französische Strasse to a Gendarmenmarkt square. Two almost symmetrical cathedral are standing on in side of the place. The Französischer Dum and the Deutscher Dom. They have few differences between them.
Right after the square we visit the Bebelplatz and the Berlin Royal Library. Here Nazi burnt books and now empty room is dig on the floor, with a glass roof at the floor level. It was impressive to see this during the night, the square is dark and only a white point is visible.
Here we meet the Unter den Linden road. A large avenue which start a monument of Friedrich and lead us to the famous Brandenburg Gate. We didn’t meet a lot of tourist and the Paris Square was almost empty.
Cute traffic light sign
On both sides of the Paris Square stand the American and French embassies and between them the imposing Gate. This night some music was playing. For the show of the next technician were doing sounds tests and light test. I took by accident a great shot of the gate! Would be better but I didn’t try to catch a second.
Behind the gate is a park, and on the north the Reichstage, big parliament building and symbol of the Nazi power. When Soviets enter in Berlin they succeed to take the building from Germans and raise the Soviet flag on its top a night. The day after they did it again front to camera.. Propaganda requested videos.
Under the Reichstage is the Memorial of 1933 dedicated to the 96 members of parliament who died in the fire of the building on the 6 March of this year, fire caused by the National Socialists.
Between the Reichstage and the Brandenburg Gate is a curious limit. The Dorotheenstrasse has on each side two different style of traffic light symbols. Eastern and western part of Berlin have their own little guys, and it became a funny particularity of the city. By looking at them you know on which side you are!
We decided to finish our small tour by going to the Sony Center, kind of attraction complex wtit restaurants and cinema.
While we were talking about Belgium politic we stopped in front of the really really impressive Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I advice you to check satellite view of it to realize how big it is! I didn’t expected that, and neither the deepness of it. I can assure you that during the night, walking inside with strangers around is scary! If someday you want to play Hide & Seek…
Last beer with my guide
To finish the night we ordered a German beer in the Sony center after surviving fast rain. I was really tired (already 16 hours of driving last two days) and what I only wanted was to sleep.
We took a metro and went to the hotel. Our roommates were outside and my bag still on my bed. My Belgium guide prepare himself to go to party in another district really close to the hotel and I went to sleep, trying to search energy for the next two days!
Visit by day
Guten morgne Berlin!
My night was short and my roommates didn’t make noise when they all come back at 3am. They were nice and I am thankful. I had prepared my bag and clothes for the day, take shower yesterday night: I can leave without make noise despite they slept deeply.
The restaurant is on the 7th floor… With a nice view and a terrace. If days are hot, morning are quite fresh but it’s not really a problem for me.
A visit even shorter to the TV tower
Yesterday my guide and I walked around Friedrichstrasse and the Breadenburg Gate, today I was going to the east. The Fernsehturm TV Tower the second main element of Berlin’s landscape and I couldn’t miss it.
From Friedrichstrasse Station I walk along the S-Ban line until canal and the Pergamon Museum. I am not sure but this area could be named Museum Island.
After the bridge for the island is a street by the river, Am Zeughauss, on which stand a market with many different souvenir shops: painting, herbal animals, accessories and the most famous: post card of the Berlin’s Wall! What else. That’s probably the most common postcard. They have the wall from every period and every angle. Just choose the unique you want!
Finish the visit
I join the Lustgarten park, grass, fountain and two major historic buildings: The Altes Museum and the Cathedral of Berlin. I don’t know why but German building are in general very dirty. All wall almost black. We don’t have such a problem in Paris, or not as much as them. The Dom is beautiful but common, wash it!
I continue to my destination: the TV tower. On its square are the church of Saint Mary and the fountain statue of Neptune. I saw more tourists in this square than yesterday next to the Brandenburg Gate!
I haven’t tried to visit the tower for the panoramic view it offers, I had to leave as fast as I can to be not so late in Marburg. I took the S-Ban o Friedrichstrasse station, where I lose time to find U-Ban to my hotel… Once in my car, navigation system ready I left for some months Berlin and enjoyed the empty road until the next little German city.