My last morning in Dresden was rainy, so I took an Uber from the Hostel to the train station. The Uber driver was very chatty (juuuuuust the way I love it… #not). Told me his whole life, about his Brazilian wife, everything. Nice guy.
I am one of those crazy people who get to the airport 3 hours before the flight just in case. The same goes for trains. I just like to have plenty of time to get there, look for the right platform (especially if you are in a new country and don’t speak the language), and have a nice coffee while I write on my blog.
**** Pause for laughing ****
Regarding the coffee, remember I said I didn’t find Germany as English-friendly as I thought it would be?
Well, I tried to order a double espresso at the train station and SOMEHOW (Palpatine returned – Nerd Joke, if you get the reference leave a comment below) I ended up with not one but TWO double espressos
I’ve heard mixed opinions about Berlin. Some people love it, and some people think it’s meh. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect and it was a pleasant surprise.
To be honest, when I got there it was raining. A LOT. I went out to buy an umbrella and it was one of those situations when it’s so windy your umbrella turns inside out all the time.
So I walked for a bit but decided to return to the Hostel because it was very annoying. At this point, I was already praying to Thor to send some snow, because I had had enough rain for a lifetime.
The hostel was very meh. It had an elevator and private shower but no toilet (EXCUSE-ME??). Scandinavian prison cells are better equipped than their private rooms. Very weird, unfriendly and unwelcoming. Not staying there ever again.
That said, the next day was a game-changer. It was nice and sunny, not too cold, not hot, just perfect. I had two tours booked for that day: the first one in the morning was called Welcome to Berlin and it takes you through all the main Berlin landmarks. The guide was American and had that anti-communism bias that I absolutely hate. But ignoring his comments on this subject, it was a nice and very rich tour. The city is beautiful and exhales history everywhere.
We started at the Berlin Tv Tower, downtown.
The Fernsehturm (Television Tower) was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the government of East Germany, as both a functional broadcasting facility and a symbol of Communist power.
It remains a landmark today from its position next to Alexanderplatz in the city’s Marien Quarter, part of the district of Mitte, visible across most suburban districts of Berlin.
Some people say it’s ugly. I like it. Some people say the CN Tower (in Toronto) is also ugly and I also love it. I like towers. The one in Prague I find ugly, tho.
In this area alone there’s plenty to see. Right across (ish) from the tower is the Red Town Hall
The Rotes Rathaus is the town hall of Berlin, located in the Mitte district on Rathausstraße near Alexanderplatz. It is the home to the governing mayor and the government of the state of Berlin. Its name dates from the façade design with red clinker bricks.
You can also walk for a minute or two to visit the Marx-Engels Forum 💗💗 which is named for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto of 1848 and regarded as two of the most influential people in the socialist mov
From there we went to the Museum Island and the Berlin Cathedral
We also walked by the Unter Den Linden Boulevard where you can find the Neue Wache building. It was built between 1816 to 1818 according to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel as a guardhouse for the Royal Palace and a memorial to the Liberation Wars, it is considered a major work of Prussian Neoclassical architecture.
From there we headed to the Humboldt University and the Gendarmenmarkt and Book Burning Sites.
The university is known worldwide for pioneering the Humboldtian model of higher education, which has strongly influenced other European and Western universities. It holds a notable list of alumni and former faculty members like Einstein, Schrödinger, Max Planck, Marx, Engels, Angela Davis, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Weber, Emmanuelle Charpentier and several others.
The Bebelplatz, formerly known as the Opernplatz – The Opera Square, is known today as the site of one of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremonies held in the evening of 10 May 1933 in many German university cities.
The Empty Library is a public memorial by Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman dedicated to the remembrance of the Nazi book burnings. The memorial shows what is missing. Underground, almost out of sight, no books, empty white shelves.
Walking a little bit to the south you get to tCheckpoint Charlie which was the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991).
We also walked by the Opera House
The Jewish Holocaust Memorial
And Adolf Hitler’s Bunker Site which is totally unmarked, under what today is a parking lot between residential buildings. This is on purpose to show the place does not deserve any kind of special treatment, not even a plaque.
The tour ended at the Brandenburg Gate. It is an 18th-century neoclassical monument, built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after restoring the Orangist power.
The afternoon tour is called Berlin Communist & Socialist Tour. It was another really nice surprise. After the tour in the morning I was expecting another 4 hours of anti-comunism propaganda but instead we got the most interesting perspective. The tour guide was a Polish woman who is doing her PHD in Political Science in Berlin.
It was super interesting to hear about her point of view as a person who lived in a former Sovietic Union country and learned to hate everything about it and about comunism and how she got to Berlin and was shocked to see how Marx and Engels were threaded as great respected philosophers. Also, how her perspective changed when she started to actually study and understand what socialism and communism are about, how it started and how it went terribly wrong in the Sovietic Union and how that experience has nothing to do with what actual communism means.
The information provided was nothing new to me (other than some small details), but it was very nice to visit the places (some of them for the second time in one day hahaha) and listen to her perspective. She also thanked me in the end for being so supportive and interested in the subject and for making her feel more comfortable in that huge group. She told me she gets a lot of eye rolling from her groups when she talks about the subject and people notice she’s not gonna be the pro-capitalism gal.
One of the coolest places we went to was the Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The square is dominated by the Volksbühne and by the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus, the headquarters of the German Left Party.
The square was previously named Babelsberger Platz (1907-1910) and Bülowplatz (1910-1933) and was the focus of one of the last mass demonstrations in Berlin against the Nazi Party.
Berlin even tho did not make my Top 5 European Cities, is a must-go! Gorgeous and filled with history and amazing places to see.