Berlin - Gyurme Arrives & Walking TourSeptember 20, 2015 in Germany
Gyurme arrived at the airport in the morning and I met him there so he wouldn't have to figure out how to get to the apartment / become lost and confused in a foreign city.
After bringing his bags back to the apartment, and me having relatively little concern for whether Gyurme had had any sleep in the last 30 hours or so, we headed back downtown to do the main city walking tour.
This tour started at the Brandenburg Gate (very pretty) and the guide pointed out that the statue on top always seems to be glaring at the French embassy (Napoleon took it to Paris after defeating Prussia. The statue was originally Eirene, the goddess of peace (wow, Mum, I didn't know your name fit so well!), riding peace into Berlin, but was later changed to be Victoria, the Goddess of Victory.
The tour also went through the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe". Even just the name bluntly hits you a bit. The memorial itself is a lot of (2711) concrete slabs in a sort of undulating hill sloping up while the ground beneath them slopes down. Inside it is dim, quiet, and kind of eerie. There's no official explanation for what the slabs represent, as long as it makes you think about what happened.
After leaving the memorial, we went on to see the former Luftwaffe HQ building (very huge and imposing), complete with soviet-era bright happy murals from when it was the East Germany House of Ministries (#4). In front, blown up to the same scale as the murals, is the reality of that era: a photograph of protesters during an uprising that was suppressed by military force.
Finally, we visited Checkpoint Charlie (a fake tourist attraction now) and a lovely square (Gendarmenmarkt) with two churches (competing to be the biggest) and a concert house building.Read more