Monday, November 19, 2007


Berlin was my first stop of the Euro Trip. I had left London on Wednesday for Brussels. Then Wednesday night I hopped on a train from Brussels at 11:41 p.m. (which was delayed till about 12:15 a.m.) and arrived in Berlin at about 8:30 a.m. Berlin was a beautiful city! I couldn't help but think of Jason Bourne and his exploits through Europe! I started with a stop at the Reichstag (home of the Bundestag, the German Parliament) and had a cappuccino in it's roof-top cafe. I wandered closer to the city center and met a free walking tour group at 11:00 a.m. The tour was fantastic! It took us through the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, Hitler's Bunker, The Berliner Dom, Museum Island and much - much! - more.

This is a photo of the inside of the Reichstag's dome. It is a modern installation - you can go up there, walk up the spiral pathways that line the glass dome, and peer down at the mirrored center piece. That glass at the bottom looks into the room that the German Parliament actually sits in, and the metaphor is clear: transparency into the working's over government. A German (or anyone, for that matter) can, at any time, come up here to see what their government is doing.

We also visited a monument in central Berlin called: Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It's essentially a large area filled with hundreds of square stone columns at different heights and imperfect angles. Some are only a foot off the ground, while others (like these) are fifteen feet up. There is no singular meaning to the monument - it is supposed to elicit feelings, and those feelings can be different for everyone. The ground and pathways swell and curve along the way, and you're just always a little disoriented. It's a very cool site, and well worth a visit. Taking the time to just wander and reflect is part of the experience.

I also had the opportunity to visit one of the last remaining bits of the Berlin Wall. Our tour guide was full of information and historical details, which helped make the experience that much more enjoyable. It may not look like much today, but the wall was such a big deal in Berlin - I'm glad parts of it are still standing for visitors, but I also look forward to the day when it is gone for good!

Some of the people I met in the tour group got together with me later for dinner, museums, and a little shopping. These tours were a great way to meet people and experience the city. Berlin carries a very cosmopolitan feel - not necessarily business-based, but not completely cultural, or social either. It's its own city, and I look forward to visiting again!

You can see all my pictures, completely with captions and explanations at:
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