Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 1 - Dublin to Berlin Germany

September 16 2015 - Berlin Germany

We catch a cab at 5:30AM and have the fastest drive ever arriving in about fifteen minutes. Once we check in we have coffee and pastries.

A very early morning start Aer Lingus 7:10 AM arriving 10:25.



Over Berlin.




Arrive 10:30 Aer Lingus flight 330

There is a one hour time difference between Dublin and Berlin so we are now six hours ahead of Toronto.

We clear EU Customs and are met by our driver for our transfer from  Schoenefeld Airport (SXF).

from:
Berlin Schönefeld airport (SXF)
reservation number:
ZIP056895SXF
to:
Berlin city (all areas)



Transfer Date:
16-Sep-2015
Flight Arrival:
10:30
Flight Number:
330
Airline:
Aer Lingus
Flight Origin:
Dublin ireland
Destination:
Mercure Hotel Berlin Mitte
Luckenwalder Str. 11
10963
Berlin city (all areas)
Total Passengers:
2
Vehicle:
Private Taxi (4PAX)

The airport is situated 18 km from the city centre, to the south-east of the city.





Checked into our hotel - Mercure Hotel Berlin Mitte
Luckenwalder Str. 11
Berlin 10963

Our room wasn't ready so we asked for directions to Potsdamer Platz and headed out.

The mural on the side of our hotel.




John had spotted this building as we drove in and was able to get a photo as we went walking. The plane is labelled EATS European Air Transit Service and I haven't found out too much more about it.
I do believe that this is on top of the German Museum of Technology.


I googled this for hours and came up with this map to the museum from our hotel which appears to make justify the location.



We will cross this bridge every day.


Part of the city's original city walls? The mystery will be solved by a reader.



Berlin is the capital and the most visited city in Germany with 7 million tourists per year. Thanks to its numerous monuments, museums, landmarks and attractions, Berlin was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We found a shopping mall and went in to get a SIM card for John's phone.

There was a large exhibition of photos commemorating the fall of the Wall. I'll admit, until this trip, I did not really know much about the Wall and the division between east and west Berlin.
You can expect a lot more Wall history in upcoming posts as we became fascinated.

The Wall went up in 1961 and finally came down in 1989.

They showed a video of the Wall coming down.



The communists called the Wall an "Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier," but it wasn't built to protect its citizens; it was built to imprison them. Between 1961 and 1989, 136 East Germans died trying to cross it. When it was breached, so suddenly, on 9 November 1989, few Berliners thought to preserve it.

The Berlin Wall 1961

  • People had been fleeing to the west through Berlin for many years "Brain Drain" (3 mil.)
  • Krushchev wants Kennedy to pull out of Berlin and make it to a free city
  • Kennedy increases US strength
  • Krushchev responds by building a wall around West Berlin
  • Both leaders were accused of being soft in Berlin and fixed this by ordering more tests ofnuclear weapons
Picture


By this time we decided to have lunch. Sitting outside on a gorgeous autumn day at Maredo's, what could be better?
We decided to have a large lunch as we are not sure what we are going to do for dinner.
Image from their website.


The plan had been to pick up our Berlin passes today but decide we can leave it for tomorrow.
We walk to the corner and find ourselves on Potsdamer Platz. Berlin is well marked for tourists so I say "let's walk to the Gate!" and then go back to hotel.



Well, one thing led to another....



Skyscrapers abound, gorgeous structures of steel and glass everywhere.





So excited! Our first glimpse of the Wall!




Berlin Bears!! I had seen these on Halycon's blog Berlin Heute (Today). Really excited to be meeting her tonight!


We can see the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial but stop to see the memorial to the gay victims of the Holocaust.



The memorial - a sloping gray concrete slab on the edge of the Tiergarten district in Berlin - is a deliberate echo of the vast field of smaller slabs that make up Germany's memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, just across the road.

Nazi Germany declared homosexuality an aberration that threatened the German race, and convicted some 50,000 homosexuals as criminals. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived.



Distracted we head to the Gate forgetting about the Holocaust memorial across the street. Another day!



Behind us as we took the photo above.


While the only remaining city gate of Berlin formerly used to represent the separation of the city between East and West Berlin, since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 the Brandenburg Gate has now come to symbolize German unity.


We continue to stroll. So close and yet so far, little do we realize we are steps from the Berlin Pass pick up spot. We could have saved ourselves the long walk tomorrow. Who am I kidding? We would have walked back here anyway.

Berlin weather, every afternoon the skies turn grey while we are here.


Russian embassy.


Apple store.


Time to turn around and get checked into our hotel.



The Wall foundations are well marked.



Wait! You didn't think we were done yet, did you? We suddenly find ourselves at Checkpoint Charlie. At this rate we won't need the Hop On tour.



Checkpoint Charlie was the scene of a number of escapes from Communist East to capitalist West Berlin. In one of the most dramatic and tragic incidents, an 18-year-old East German man was shot by Communist border guards and left to bleed to death in no man's land.


It was also the spot where Soviet and American tanks faced each other, engines running and muzzle to muzzle, for six days in 1961 only weeks after the building of the Berlin Wall.


Today it is more like a bad Disney attraction with actors dressed in various uniforms posing with tourists for a Euro per photo. I do have a problem with uniforms being abused.




Now, seriously we need a rest and some liquid refreshments, right across from Checkpoint Charlie's in order to watch the amusing (and some not) crowds. They are mainly European, very few Americans or Canadians.




Don't be deceived by the hotel's images on their website, these rooms are small!! But it is spotless and the bed is really comfortable.

We head out to meet Halcyon and her husband. She publishes a photo a day from Berlin.

We request a taxi and it is just sprinkling rain but quickly turns into a downpour. We hadn't brought our rain gear as it had been such a beautiful day.


We are meeting at Rüdesheimer Platz near their apartment. It is a local wine festival well off the tourist beaten path. Our taxi driver has no idea and has to use his GPS. It was about a twenty minute drive.The 'Rheingauer Weinbrunnen' wine garden takes place annually from early May to late September (dates vary slightly from year to year), and is open daily from 3pm - 9.30pm.

Our email description for finding each other!
Halcyon -  I'll be the blonde with a baldie in glasses (though that might describe a lot of German men!)
Me -  I'll be the short one with short hair with a baldie also with or without glasses (depends whether he has his contacts).

I didn't bring my camera and we didn't take photos of the four of us, what kind of bloggers are we????

I did use my phone to take a few photos while we were waiting and looking for them. 

We easily found each other and immediately settled in like old friends. They had lived in Toronto for a few years and are avid golfers so lots of things in common. Avid travellers as well.
We huddle under the canopy and drink wine and watch the crowd who are not deterred by the rain. 




I "found" this photo online taken on a drier day. Just picture a lot of umbrellas!


The rain lets up and the men go get pizza for our dinner. In all a really fun evening!


Distance covered on foot - 11 kilometers or 6.6 miles, not bad considering we have been up since 5AM and spent a couple of hours in Dublin airport and in the air.




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6 comments:

  1. No pics of Halcyon? Hah!

    Such a beautiful city!

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  2. Too funny to forget to take photos of your blogger friends.

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  3. Some days are just endless, aren't they? But a fascinating first look for you at the city. Unbelievable that the Wall lasted for all those years. We're a strange lot aren't we? Thanks for joining me, Jackie :)

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  4. How good to meet up with fellow bloggers. Loved all the photos bringing back memories of my trip to Berlin in 2013.

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  5. Now that's a first great day of an adventure. And, to meet a fellow blogger at the end of the day. Neat. Cheers to you!
    Take 25 to Hollister

    ReplyDelete