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    • Day 81

      Berlin, Germany

      August 19, 2022 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      We have been staying in Erlangen again for a bit. Oh and ummm, Seth got a job in Germany, so that's new. Lots of changes and lots to think through. More on that later...

      We trained it to Berlin as a halfway point to get to the beach in Poland. We had all nice trains heading north, thankfully! After check-in, we played at a park and ate some delicious Asian food. At the park, they went up and down the slides, made ice cream scoops, and performed gymnastics in the grass. It was a lot of fun until Mabel did a cartwheel into dog poop, so we headed to the restaurant. Vegetarian curry is where it's at! DeMille was the most excited because she ate lots of sushi at this place. Addy got a fortune cookie that told her "Laughter will keep you young." She is our giggle box, so she might live forever.

      The next morning fresh bagels were calling our name! Seth's friend told us about this epic Jewish bagel shop called Salomon's Bagels and eating those was first on the agenda. We went to open the door and it was locked! Nooooo! They were closed due to a supply issue. No New York style bagels for us. So sad! Luckily, Berlin has no shortage of bakeries. The girls enjoyed trying a new pastry.

      The Berlin Zoo was the main destination for this stop. The cool air and mild rain made for no crowds! We covered lots of ground and saw nearly every animal at this zoo. The girls particularly enjoyed the birds. There were more birds here than I have ever seen at a zoo and very unique ones. The bigs suggested we get a parakeet for our morning alarm clock, because it was quite loud. We saw a flamingo turning it's egg over in her nest. Then she proceeded to pass off the responsibility of sitting on the egg to another flamingo. I did not know they shared that job with other birds.

      We walked through the aquarium with fish and reptiles. Addy loved the tiny sea horses. Mabel and Demi were very into watching these large bright green eels. They looked very similar to Ursula's pets. They also got to pet the shiny coy fish. The girls wanted to keep doing that forever. Addy especially enjoyed trying to touch them.

      They also had a unique wooden park that was just so impressive! I want it in my backyard! The girls loved climbing to ask the different peaks. They especially had fun on this spinny thing. It was essentially a merry go round with out rails, on a tilt, about three feet off the ground. As you walked along the edge of the disc, it would speed up. It was easy to get it going to fast. Pretty fun!

      This was a fun way to slow travel to Poland.
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    • Day 8

      Berlin wall, games and spa

      September 7, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      On our final day in Berlin we headed to the Game Science Centre to check out some new technologies emerging in gaming. They had some cool games which tracked your vision or finger tips to control the game. We also built a mini New Zealand out of kinetic sand, where a computer mapped the exact topography of what we built - mum and dad would have liked this one!
      Next up was a trip to the remaining Berlin wall and the museum built on the old Gestapo site. Interesting reading in their exhibition, and we even found where Matt had tagged the wall.
      The boys then dropped me off at my spa retreat and headed for Lollapalooza festival at the Olympic stadium. The spa was very flash and I have been totally spoilt for the last 6 hours! The boys had a good time at the festival snd we have reconvened at base camp.
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    • Day 9

      Berlin day 1

      July 7, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

      This morning we woke up in Prague and tonight we sleep in Berlin!
      This morning Elo was not feeling well from her concussion so we all agreed she should rest and meet us in a day or two if she felt better. Marlon guided us to the train station which was quite confusing because the normal way with the subway was still closed. We got to the train station and thank goodness our train was delayed! We got on with minutes to spare! The train was so full that each car had a line of people standing in the aisle the length of the car, and all the seats were taken. At each stop more people got on than got off, so we stood the whole way from Prague to Berlin (a little more than 4 hours). We were thankful to be able to get the ride and continue our journey.
      When we got to Berlin Antonia and Suzanne were waiting for us on the platform. What a breath of fresh air to see our sweet Antonia again! It was so great to finally meet her mother! We had lunch together at the train station/Berlin mall, and then took a subway towards the hotel. We decided to get off and walk a bit to see some sights on the way to the hotel.
      After we settled in and took showers and the boys rested a bit, we went out to explore Berlin. We had cake at Antonia's (and now our!) Favorite restaurant to get cake. It was absolutely delicious. We then took the transit towards the monuments. We explored them. We saw some break dancers, bought some souvenirs and then went for dinner. When we got back to our hotel, the hotel was evacuated and the police and fire department were there. It turns out someone had too hot of a shower and it activated the fire alarm.
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    • Day 9

      Aniversario caida muro

      November 9, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      Hoy free tour con un colombiano enamorado de Berlín, muy guay. Es el aniversario pero no se celebra pq también es la noche de los cristales rotos y la creación de la SS.
      Casi hay que apuntar las los dedos, pero revivi en el Neue Museum.
      Hoy ceno coreano.
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    • Day 2

      In a spin

      April 24, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌬 17 °C

      Anne had very kindly met me at the airport last night and brought me to the apartment. It was ok, not fantastically clean but absolutely not the worst place I've ever stayed, and it had all the facilities that we needed. Everyone was tired, especially Anita and Rob who had travelled from Australia, so after a chat we all went to our beds.

      We had a slow lazy start to the day and decided to go out for breakfast. We got our weekly transport tickets for €39 which allowed unlimited travel on public transport within Berlin, Zones A B. I was reminded again how utterly rubbish public transport is in Scotland, it is inefficient, expensive and limited in scope whereas in Berlin, we never waited more than 5 mins for a train, tram or bus, it wasn't expensive and every part of the city was serviced.

      We went into the city and had a wander around led by Anne who used to live in Berlin and so acted as our guide (she was amazing), we went to the Brandenburg Gate which was busy and, as was normal for Berlin, there was some building work going on. However, it was impressive, and in the distance you could see the sunlight gleaming on the top of the Victory Column, it was very beautiful. One could not help thinking about the momentous events of history, many in my own lifetime, that had taken place in this very spot.

      We stopped off at the Holocaust memorial, it is basically a collection of rectangular blocks of varying sizes. I was a bit surprised at how unkempt it was, there were lots of weeds growing up around the blocks. Some people were climbing on the blocks and jumping from one to the other which seemed somewhat disrespectful to me and I was quite pleased when a security guard came and sent them packing. On the main road next to the memorial you can see the line of where the Berlin wall went.

      Our next stop was Checkpoint Charlie, and Rob and I did the tourist thing of having our photograph taken behind the sandbags. A few days later at another museum we had a close look at some photographs and concluded that the Checkpoint building is fake and just for tourists, the roof line is completely different from that of the original. Still, it was a little bit of history.

      After coffee and a pastry, (the Germans are VERY good at pastry... though surprisingly not so good at coffee) Anne went off to do some stuff and left us to our own devices, we decided to go to the Jewish Museum. We managed to find our own way (thank you Google Maps) in we went. It is a very strange and clever building, actually it's really two buildings, the original building which is quite conventional and in style of its time, and that is connected to a modern and striking building designed by Daniel Libeskind who said of it:

      "The new design, which was created a year before the Berlin Wall came down, was based on three conceptions that formed the museum's foundation: first, the impossibility of understanding the history of Berlin without understanding the enormous intellectual, economic and cultural contribution made by the Jewish citizens of Berlin, second, the necessity to integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city of Berlin. Third, that only through the acknowledgement and incorporation of this erasure and void of Jewish life in Berlin, can the history of Berlin and Europe have a human future."

      One of the 'exhibits' is the garden of Exile. Whilst it is possible to describe the garden in terms of its architecture, it is much more difficult to describe the effect that it has on you when you enter it. It is set in a perfect square with a very, very uneven floor, and 48 concrete columns that tower over you and which are topped with Russian olive trees. The columns are not all perfectly straight, or is it the unevenness of the floor...I don't know. The aim was to help the visitor get a sense of the discomfort of the exiles as they left pre-war Germany to a new life in a new country with little more than what they could carry into that very uncertain future.

      The skill of the architect became very evident when I experienced a moment of sudden disequilibration, and the garden began to spin like a merry-go-round. I had to leave, and after a few moments I felt better. We carried on going around the museum, which is absolutely superb and I would recommend it highly. I was particularly struck by one of the later exhibits, a collection of laws that were enacted against the Jews almost from the moment that the Nazis came to power. They hang on banners in chronological order and they go on and on. One that stood out for me was the law that Jews were forbidden from going for a walk, it is difficult to contemplate such calculated vindictive hatred. It was also a reminder of the need to protect democratic freedom, for everything that the Nazis did was within the law, they made sure of that by writing the laws.

      As we got near the end of the tour through the museum, I began to get dizzy again, the room started to spin, and this time it wasn't going away. I wondered if it was because I hadn't eaten or drunk much so we went to the café, I sat down whilst Rob and Anita got me a sugary coffee and a bottle of water. Sitting at the table I began to feel very, very sick, Anita quickly emptied her small shoulder bag, not a second too soon for I was immediately sick into it. Rob got a bin bag and I was sick into that, again, and again and again, all the while the whole room was spinning like I was on a merry-go-round. I have never felt like that before and hopefully never will again.

      We got an uber back to the apartment, and thankfully I managed not to be sick in the car, but the second I got out, in the middle of the road I was sick into the bin bag which I was still holding onto for dear life. Rob all but carried me up the stairs and I lay on the sofa bed. As soon as I lay flat the room stopped spinning, as soon as I moved my head I felt very dizzy again and was sick again. Anne wanted to get a doctor but I felt confident that it was an equilibrium problem possibly made worse by my experience in the Garden of Exile, and that it would pass.

      Mirjam arrived, she was working each day and joining us in the evenings, I hadn't seen her for a year and she reached down to hug me and I reached up to hug her...and then was instantly sick into the famous bin bag (which was filling up). I had been so looking forward to seeing her again and it wasn't the meeting I had hoped for and it made me feel 100 times worse.

      I lay down, and when the others went out for dinner I fell asleep, I woke up at 4am, went to the loo and the room was not spinning and I did not feel sick. I fell asleep again and when I woke I felt much better.

      My first day in Berlin got off to a good start and went downhill as quickly as Lewis Hamilton vying for pole position, hopefully things could only get better...
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    • Day 7

      Ich bin in Berlin

      December 22, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌬 3 °C

      6 hour train journey from Amsterdam to Berlin. It was a pleasant and comfortable journey. There was a mix of enjoying scenery, napping, gaming, reading and watching downloads.
      We are staying close to the zoo. After check in, it was out for a walk. I spied a Christmas Market where we had a bite to eat.Read more

    • Day 9

      Last day Berlin

      December 24, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌬 9 °C

      Evening photos Tv tower, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial. Church, Dinner.

      Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe,
      Brandenburg gate, Reichstag building, near with the train maps on it. The East side gallery, the old East side of the Berlin Wall with art painted on it. Last stop of the day Checkpoint Charlie.Read more

    • Day 43

      What a Pain in the Neck!

      May 8, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      Turns out our decision to take a hop on, hop off bus day in Berlin was positively prescient.
      Christine rolled over and cricked her neck first thing….walking all day would be out of the question, but some powerful Ibuprofen got us to the Big Bus stop.

      Berlin Cathedral, Museum Island, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag on the outbound, & we stepped off past the Zoo to visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.
      Damaged beyond repair in WWII, it was retained as a memorial, with a very modern replacement immediately next door.
      I had seen it a few times on work trips, staying in hotels nearby….but there was a new poignant piece about the terrorist truck incident from 2016, killing 13 people at the Christmas market I had strolled through only days before….

      Checkpoint Charlie was the main stop for the return leg. Plenty to see at the point where the Soviet and US tanks faced off during one tense point of the Cold War, & a lot of sad stories of the oppression and the infamous Berlin Wall….evidence of which we found many times around the formerly blockaded City 👀

      Back at Alexanderplatz, we hopped on to the Blue tour route. Interesting to head through the former East Germany, some different architectural styled flats and plenty of art on the East Side Gallery: conserved graffiti on the remaining parts of the Wall.

      A trip back to hop off at the Reichstag and wander past the memorial of the murder of the European Sinti and Roma persecuted as “gypsies”. More sad, and brave, tales.
      Pictures at the Brandenburg Gate, & a look at the stark columns forming the memorial to the Holocaust. Moving stuff 😔

      We also learned the pink pipes all across the city were not art, or carrying gas, but are to take ground water from the many building projects to the River Spree 🤪

      The last bus back, then some dinner from the Vegan Pirates before taking a final S-Bahn home, & a beer in the bar back at the Social Hub 👍
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    • Day 5

      Berlin — Mitte

      May 25 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

      I took a bus tour of Berlin today and then hopped off at Checkpoint Charlie. It’s a strange historical site. One couple was in line to take their Christmas card photo. Others were buying communist memorabilia. There’s a memorial nearby which solemnly tells the story of hundreds who died trying to escape to freedom. A block away there’s an escape room to attract tourists. An escape room. One of the preserved sections of the wall had the word “madness” in graffiti that someone had written on the East Berlin side long ago. Imagine being liberated from the Nazi regime and then to find yourself on the communist side of that wall. One elderly man was speaking to a group of tourists. “We hated the wall in Berlin. It separated us from our friends and family. To us it was like a prison wall.” He looked like he would have been high school age when the wall went up. It must be so hard for him to explain how important this was to people who barely remember the Cold War. I thought back to when I was teaching European geography in 1989. One student asked why West and East Germany were both colored in pink on the globe even though they were separate countries. My explanation was that our globes were 20 years old. They were from a time when people believed Germany might reunite so the map makers must have been hopeful it would one day happen, but chances of that happening seemed very slim. A month later the wall came down, and within a year Germany was reunified. I remember that student bringing me a clipping from the paper the day it was announced that East and West Germany were now one. He happily reported that he had told his parents, “Mr. Pisa’s globe was right!”Read more

    • Day 10

      Berlin day 2(.1 for pictures)

      July 8, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 72 °F

      What a fun packed day. We had a very delicious breakfast at the hotel before leaving for the Berlin tour on the hop-on-hop-off bus. We saw so many spectacular sights. We saw the dome, we went to check point charlie. Suzanne lived in the western Berlin during this time and told me so many interesting things that I could never have read in a book. I am thankful to have had her with today to tell me the stories.
      We saw hauptbahnhof, the wall, scheutenhviertel, DDR, the east side gallery, check point charlie, Schloss Bellevue, potsdamer platz, alexanderplatz, museum island, and all the sights in-between. It was a very full day. We also went to haribo, where the kids spent their euros that were gifted them.
      Lunch was kabob (seriously yum). After we returned to the hotel, we began getting ready for the lake.
      Suzanne, Logan, and I drove to the lake, but first Suzanne showed me where she grew up. It is a very lovely part of Berlin, full of beautiful homes and a great community. We then went to the lake where we met Tim, Antonia, and Oliver, who took the subway. We swam for about an hour then walked to a lakeside restaurant. They were full, unfortunately, so we walked to a very beautiful Italian restaurant. The staff were incredibly helpful and so nice. They served food that was fit for royalty. It was delicious. Then, when we were done, we had a complementary shot on the house. The amaretto that I chose was so sweet and smooth.
      We took the subway back to the hotel and we all went to our rooms to rest.
      It was truly a great day, and I am so thankful that we spent our day with the girl who sparked the idea of coming to Germany so many years ago. ❤️
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Hansaviertel, Berlin-Hansaviertel

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