Exploring Berlin by Thea Easterby
Normally I prefer to explore a new city on foot, however due to the sheer size of Berlin, I purchased a day ticket for one of the hop on/hop off bus services. This tour allows you to explore what once was the East and West sides of the city.
With so many options to leave the bus and explore, I found the major stops below hard to resist:
- The Checkpoint Charlie Museum, at the former crossing between the American and Russian borders is worth visiting. The museum showcases the various ways people tried to cross the Berlin Wall from East to West Germany and the dangers they faced.
- Close to the museum along Friedrichstrasse and Zimmerstrasse is an outdoor photo gallery. The displays provide pictures and stories from during the Cold War, ranging from the stand off in 1961 between Soviet and American tanks, to the constant changes made to the checkpoint itself, to what was referred to as the ghost stations in the train network. The museum and the gallery offer a valuable insight into what it might have been like living in a divided city. Seeing photos of Potsdamer Platz after World War II and during the time of the Berlin Wall and viewing the area now reveals an amazing transformation. After the fall of the wall, the approximately 60 hectare property was one of Europe’s largest construction sites. Potsdamer Platz is now a combination of commercial buildings, apartments, The Sony Centre, cinemas, shopping complexes, and much more. The spectacular glass and steel roof of The Sony Centre, designed by Helmut Jahn, can be seen from various points in the city. Though it’s hard to imagine, during the Cold War this area was a barren wasteland, largely a no go zone between the East and West.
- Szczecin known for its lush vegetation, surrounding forests, rivers, and magnificent parks promises once in a lifetime memories for life. This Polish city is well-connected with Berlin, you can take a direct cab from Berlin Schönefeld Airport to Szczecin.
No visit to Berlin would be complete without gazing up at the iconic Brandenburg Gate. From the Gate, take a stroll down the lovely boulevard of Unter den Linden. If you think Berlin is all about history – think again. While in the past the city has been a cornerstone of European history, it is now a thriving modern metropolis with much on offer.
I can always tell if I resonate with the personality of a city. Midway through my visit, I found myself checking visa requirements and investigating short term rental accommodation, with the goal of returning for a longer stay. Berlin is definitely one of those cities and I can’t wait to go back.
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