Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Our second day in Berlin was another action packed adventure. We were away from our hostel for well over twelve hours as we took in many of Berlin's sites.
Our first stop was the East Side Gallery, a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin wall next to the River Spree. The wall has been pained with over a hundred murals celebrating the freedom of the city after the East and West were rejoined.
We started at the eastern end of the gallery and I wasn't a fan of some of the more abstract murals, but the paintings nearest Ostahnhof station were more my flavour. I'd definitely recommend the gallery for a browse if you are in Berlin.
After the East Side Gallery we headed to Treptower Park to see the largest Soviet War Memorial in Berlin that Barnaby told us about during our walking tour. On a cold winter's day we almost had the memorial to ourselves. It's on a scale that can't help but impress you, with a design that creates a certain tranquillity and prompts you to be reflective. There is also a degree of symbolism with a Russian soldier rescuing a baby while crushing a swastika.
Treptower Park also looked like it would be a nice place to relax on a summers day or to take a walk along the river. A series of closed kiosks and moored up pleasure boats suggests that in summer it would be a popular hang out.
After the park we caught a bus back to Burger Meister that we had spotted the night before. Located in a former public convenience you order at the counter and then wait for your number to be called.
We took up a perch outside as we waited for our Meister Burgers. The pattie felt homemade and was served with onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato and BBQ sauce. It was a good burger, but to take it to the next level the pattie would have needed to be more moist (aka fattier) for me.
After lunch we divided into one of the local cafes for a hot chocolate to warm up and plan where we wanted to go next. After a bit of discussion we decided to visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
The church was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1934. In the late 1950s rather than rebuilding the original church they built a couple of buildings around the ruined spire. The stained glass inside the new church was really impressive with 21,292 individual pieces of stained glass inlaid into the window design.
I was keen to check out the impressive Norman Foster designed roof of the Bundestag while we were in Berlin. Luckily I checked online in the morning and realised that we needed to book in advance for the free tour. Luckily we were able to get in same day.
I'd seen pictures of the domed glass roof before visiting Berlin, but hadn't realised the symbolism of the roof (and nearby parliamentary buildings). Glass is deliberately used to bring transparency to the democratic process, complimented by the huge central mirror which allows you to look down into the debating chamber.
I really enjoyed walking up the double helix to the summit of the roof. The only slight downside is that the audio guide is clearly designed of viewing during the day and not all of the sights it highlights are visible at night.
After the Parliament we walked down the festively lit Unter den Linden to settle in for the evening at the Georgbraeu pub. The brewery makes a 'light' and 'dark' beer and having tasted both (seemed on the right thing to do) I prefer the dark beer. It had a fuller slightly bitter flavour and was much more like an ale than a stout.
After drinks and dinner we headed back to our hostel. My third night in a row when I was up past midnight. I must be getting old as I can't remember the last time I did that!