25.07.2014

TWO DAYS IN BERLIN

TWO DAYS IN BERLIN, Nazlı Tezcan | 25.07.2014

Entertaining millions of tourists every year with its museums, historical artifacts, dynamic city life and its spectacular architecture, Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany. Besides that, it is also the art and cultural center of the country. Considering its chaotic history, it wouldn’t be wrong to describe it as a city reborn from its ashes.

Arriving on a very hot summer day at Tegel Airport in Berlin, we started our Berlin tour. We got on the downtown bus and headed for one of the busiest squares in the city, Alexanderplatzs, where our hotel was. After a night shift I was a little bit tired but sunshine filled me with energy, and as soon as we put our bags in our room, we hit the streets. Our first stop was the Berlin Wall.

According to the city map, the wall was located to the east of our hotel, but we were not sure whether we were heading in the right direction, yet we went on. Luckily, in a short while, we saw that we were on the right track. Dividing the city into two between 1961 and 1990, the Berlin Wall also used to be called the Wall of Shame. Though little remains of the wall today, what remains is covered with the colorful works of different artists; it's a place that you should absolutely see.

We walked along the wall and went down to the banks of the river. As we watched the scenery in awe, we walked to the Oberbaum Bridge, one of the symbols of the city. Along the beach there are hostels which are very popular among the youngsters. We found ourselves some shade to relax a little bit as we listened to a street musician who was using the natural acoustics of the area to his advantage.

Our last stop was Kreuzberg, known as the Turkish neighborhood. We didn't realize that we were in ‘Little Turkey’, until we saw the Turkish suffixes on a building. Everything around us became so Turkish in style that were almost on the verge of forgetting we were in Berlin.

Thanks to our next stop, Check Point Charlie, we were reminded our location. This used to be the point, in divided Berlin, where people passed from one side to another, to east or to west. There is still a cabin where American soldiers keep guard and pose to cameras with tourists. If you have your passport with you, you can have it symbolically border stamped.

The location of this check point is on Friedrichstrasse, one of most famous shopping streets in Berlin. We enjoyed this beautiful street and went on with our tour. Berlin is a town where simply strolling around is a lot of fun. Especially if it is sunny when you visit, just like it was when we did.

After walking for some time, we reached the Gendarmenmarkt, which hosts the three most important buildings in Berlin. The site having the Konserthaus, French and German Cathedrals is the perfect example of the architectural composition harmony. With hopes of catching a concert in the evening we checked out the programme but unfortunately we were disappointed.

Cycling in Berlin is also a lot of fun. The roads are steady and flat. Don't be surprised when you see bike taxis. Though we were kind of exhausted, we kept on walking and reached the famous square Potsdamer Platz.

This square has been rebuilt with newer and higher buildings. The original square, which used to be the heart of the city was totally destroyed during World War II. After the war, because of being an urban area between east and west, it was on standby for 40 years, but after the reuniting of the east and west, it was reconstructed and regained its value as the center of the metropolis.

We were curious about the holocaust monument for the Jews murdered by Nazis, the Holocaust Memorial. The 1900 m2 memorial park consisting of 2711 concrete slabs in different sizes, awakened different feelings in us.

Breathing the cool and fresh air of the city’s biggest park, the Tiergarten, which is just across from the monument, we walked to the Bradenburg Gate.

Because of the novel by Glenn Meade, Brandenburg, which I had read years ago and liked a lot, I was especially curious about the Brandenburg Gate, probably the biggest tourist magnet in Berlin. It was surrounded by such a big tourist crowd that I really had hard time getting a good shot with my camera. Above gate you'll see a chariot drown by four horses which is the most important symbol of the town. This statue was taken to France by Napoleon but the separation didn't last long and after eight years it was returned to its rightful place.


 

Just a little ahead is the Reichtag, the parliament building. The most important attribute of this building is its glass dome. Because of the lack of time, we couldn't enter the building, but we heard that it has a very good city view. If you would like to see the dome and the roof terrace, you should make a reservation online at least two days ahead. 

Berlin is also known as the “City of Museums.” Moreover, inside Berlin city borders there is an island called Museum Island accommodating five world famous museums. UNESCO declared the island as a world heritage site. If you have time you should especially visit the Pergamon Museum. The museum is visited every year by approximately 1 million people. It's also possible to see some pieces that were bought from the Ottoman Empire in past.

As we were returning to our hotel, we saw the Berliner Dome and watched it with admiration. It seemed like the youths were loving spending some time on the grass in front of this cathedral.

Using what little energy we had left we reached Alexanderplatz. On this square you will find the Television Tower with a complete city view. You can climb the tower till late hours of the night. The total height of the tower is 368 meters and it is the highest building open to the public in Europe. The tower was opened in 1969 to show that a better future had been built for the east. We had already had the chance to see the city view from our high hotel building so we skipped the tower.

We were so sleep deprived that we were about to faint, so before dinner we rested a little at our hotel. When we woke up, we saw that the square had livened up, so we ran downstairs to check it out. The square isn’t that large but it was packed with stands servicing delicacies from different cuisines and it seemed like the whole of Berlin was there. The surroundings of the square were decorated with bucket lights in all kinds of colors. We found ourselves a place to sit and started eating some famous German sausages. After dinner, in order the burn the calories, we took a short walk and checked out the Brandenburg Gate at night. We were amazed by its decoration with lights. As we were supposed to wake up early in the morning, we headed back to our hotel for a well-earned sleep.

First thing the next morning we went to the most famous shopping street in Berlin, Kurfürstendamm. The 3.5 km long boulevard, which is also called Kudamm, is one of the most popular places to stroll around. As it was very early in the morning the shops were closed. We had our breakfast at a cafe and walked the whole boulevard as far as Tiergarten. Quite disappointed about the fact that Istanbul doesn’t have such a park, among the green we climbed to the Berlin Victory Column. The street where the column was took us back to the Branderburg Gate and we spent the last hour of the trip drinking a cup of coffee on the crowded square decorated with live sculptures.

With such a sweet sense of fatigue we left the city which still had a lot to be discovered...

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