Living the tourist life – Part II
My little brother was visiting for a few days. The second day he was here, we took him to do the whole tourist program. And I mean what I say!
Are you ready?
The mandatory first stop was the Brandenburger Tor that by the way was altered many times throughout the years. The form it has today became most famous as a symbol of the reunion of Germany in 1989-90. This is, because the Berlin Wall was running right next to it.
If you are interested in more of this stuff you should have a look at this website. They have a lot of useful information about Berlin, its history and the wall.
Our next mandatory stop you can see in the background. The Reichstag Building is impressive everytime you see it, no matter how often you have been there. I really like the combination of old stones and the modern glass & steel constructions. Compared to other government buildings worldwide I think we got quite lucky to have such a pretty and light one – that is still impressive.
Oh and yes, bad hair day! (and oh lord, that is a hell of a double chin I have there…)
Talking about architecture: The next stop, right across the lawn from the Reichstag was the Bundeskanzleramt (German Chancellery Building).
The German Chancellery Building is mostly made from concrete and glass, is built in a postmodern style and was completed in 2001. Not interesting enought?
Well, did you know that this building is eight (8!) times bigger than the White House? Including the helipad and the park it measures about 7.000m² (bam!). It is therefore no surprise that the building was criticised a lot for being too big and making the distances on the inside uncomfortably long to walk.
The nickname of the building is besides ‘washing machine’ (obviously, if you look at it from the side like here) also ‘elephant loo’. I am gonna let that pass without comment.
After a little walk through the Tiergarten we reached Schloss Bellevue (Bellevue Palace). Quite pretty if you ask me. Especially the lawn looks like it was cut with nail scissors and a ruler. Very german (yes, I as a German can say that).
The palace is the official residence of the German President. In case you did not know it up to now: In Germany the President only has a representative function. Meaning: He gets shitloads of money, can travel all over the world, is very important and everybody is listening to his opinion – and he gets to live in a palace.
Okay, except for Roman Herzog, who was president from 1994-1999 no president actually ever lived in there – but still. Also works well as a summer house.
Under the blue sky, glistening sun and serious heat we continued our way to the victory column. The obligatory posing in front and then up we went – 255 steps on the narrow circular stairs.
Oh double chin, good to see you again…
From the top of the ‘Goldelse’ as the Berliners call the golden Victoria on top of the column, you have a great view all over Berlin (almost).
Here you see the Straße des 17. Juni all the way back to the Brandenburger Tor.
In case you are interested: The column, including the statue on top is 67 meters high. Not a skyscraper but nice for sure.
Now I have to be a little harsh: We had a little lunch in a place that I can not recommend at all. If you are following my blog for a little longer, you know that I am very much into food. So trust me and stay away from the first restaurant in the Cora-Berliner-Straße. The food is below average and the view right on the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is not helping. Except for snacks and a salad they didn’t have anything vegetarian on the menu. So I ordered a salami cheese sandwich without the salami and I got two little pre-backed rolls with cheese and two leaves of lettuce at the side. I’ve never been THAT disappointed!
But back to the nice things of our tour. My new favourite place and according to many guidebooks the pretties square in Berlin: Gendarmenmarkt.
Flanked by the German Cathedral in the south (see the picture above) and the French Cathedral in the North (see picture below) the square creates mediterranean flair in the middle of Berlin.
Standing in the center of the square, in front of the huge perron of the Konzerthouse (see below) it felt like standing in Italy or some other country with long antique history. So in case I might disappear at some point and am nowhere to be found – this might be the place where you should look for me first. Such a wonderful spot.
Read more about it here.
Here we recovered a little from the bad lunch and then continued our walk on Friedrichsstraße down to Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie is mostly interesting if you are into the history of Berlin – and the history of Germany.
I will spare you the whole explanation now, because I think that you either already have a little information or – in case you are interested – you can read it yourself here.
I am a little culture freak and when it comes to history I am usually very much down for everything. But Checkpoint Charlie made me realize how little being at the actual spot meets the expectations that you have when you are just learning what happened there.
I guess that the museum at Checkpoint Charlie offers more details and more interesting insights and stories than the actual spot. Unfortunately we did not have to time, nor the energy to go there that day.
According to my brother we walked about 16km that day. Take that together with the hot sun and the fact that before we were sitting in front of the computer all day, might give you an idea what our legs felt like. To put it short: we were done that evening!
The only thing we had enough energy left for, was a nice dinner and a beer at the open air cinema in our neighborhood. What we watched? ‘her’.
A good movie. Sad, funny, beautiful and perfect for an evening like that. Go and watch it when you have the chance!