“Berlin’s legacy of artistic innovation and chaotic political change has created a spectacular mix of buildings. Neoclassical and baroque masterpieces line the streets of the historical centre. Unexpected turns into East and West Berlin neighbourhoods display competing efforts towards post-World War II reconstruction. Bombastic structures built by kings and dictators, relics from tyrannical dictatorships, vie for attention. In many places, mundane buildings stand side-by-side with some of the most daring experimental structures of modern times.” – Humboldt Tours
Following the hostel instructions, I take a city bus from the train station. I’ve always been intimidated by city buses, so I was extra careful to pay attention to my stop. Due to my break of dawn arrival, it’s too early to check into the hostel, so I’m forced to spend the morning in the commons room alternately reading and dozing. I have no desire to hit the streets of Berlin yet, until I can freshen up after my lengthy night on the train.
Eventually, I’m unpacked and joining the NEW EUROPE Berlin Walking tour. I’ve read great things about it, as it’s not your standard, boring tour group. Also, we really enjoyed their Dublin tour. Here I meet Brad from Georgia, Yumi from Japan, and a couple Canadian guys that are always looking for their next party. The tour is amazing. Our guide, Brian, really knows his stuff. I came to Berlin not knowing very much about the history beyond the surface. I’m fascinated that it is such new history; the fall of the Berlin wall happening in my lifetime. We pass many of the main sites in Berlin as we discuss the tumultuous history throughout its 700+ years, the fascinating and sobering history. We alternate between Prussian royalty, Hitler’s Nazi occupation, and the Soviet rule of Eastern Berlin.
The architecture alone is incredibly varied due to the long history and chaotic political change of Germany’s capital city. One can see the baroque facades of the Schloss Charlottenburg (palace) and moments later view the monolithic buildings of Stalin & the Soviet-era, continuing on to gaze up at the innovative designs of Potsdamer Platz. The Reichstag is particularly interesting where it’s contemporary dome peeks above the historical Neo-classical building.
Beyond the history, we move-on to the modern cultural scene in Berlin; the music, the street art, the moving club-scene and vibrant night life.
What a city! There is so much to explore in my mere four days here.