Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Berlin, Germany

Matt - Arriving into Berlin late at night, after spending two weeks in an english speaking country was a tad difficult at first. Slowly though, we got used to speaking a little German, and learnt quite a bit about the language in the past little while. We had four nights in Berlin, and had a lot planned for the short time (which we unfortunately got very little of done). The first morning I was craving a sausage of some sort, so I opted for a Currywurst. Hmm. I was less than impressed. 

We continued walking past museums and landmarks, including Checkpoint Charlie, and the museum called Topography Of Terror, which is a museum which depicts the SS in WW2. As we continued towards other landmarks in the Mitte district, we were suddenly very aware that the streets were getting continually crowded. Streets were blocked, police were everywhere, and we couldn't access spots we wanted. After a long walk, around all of the commotion, we came to the Holocaust Memorial, which consists of 2711 concrete slabs. 
Next we wanted to see the Brandenburg gate. We were suddenly hit with a massive crowd again. We battled through the crowd to find out what was happening, and we finally realised the congestion of people was due to the Germany World Cup team being on stage right in front of us. Of course we didn't have a very good view of the Brandenburg gate, but the party was fun to be involved in
Tahlia - The next day we went exploring with an alternative walking tour through Kreuzberg. It gave us a chance to inspect the road less travelled; walking through squats, community markets and street art galore. If you were to inspect these areas closely, you would find many hide-away bars, clubs and art centres.

The photo below shows the East Side Gallery, a part of the Berlin Wall that has been transformed by artists making their mark.

Prior to arriving in Berlin, Matt had insisted on visiting one area in particular. This area was another road less travelled by tourists, as it is forbidden to enter. During the walking tour we started talking with a fellow traveller who said that he too was keen to explore this place. Named the Spreepark, it opened in 1969, and closed in 2001. In it's heyday, it was a popular amusement park equipped with all the latest rides and attractions. The park closed due to a massive debt and lack of visitors. In 2002, the owner of the park shipped some of the rides abroad so they could get repaired, but that was found to be a lie. Instead, 7kg of cocaine was found inside one of the rides and he was jailed, sealing the lonely fate of the park. Until recently tours were allowed through the park, but in March this year somebody bought the land, making it forbidden to enter. This meant that we had to stealthily jump fences to enter and exit the park. We had to tread very carefully whilst exploring, as we had been told that guards patrol the area. 
In the photo below, the train tracks appear to be surrounded by grass, but it was actually water.  

As we walked through, the rides could be seen just as they were thirteen years ago, like people had just stepped out from riding them.

The old Ferris Wheel creaked as it was pushed slowly by the wind. This was the most risky part of the park, as it draws the most visitors, and is also close to the main guarding post. At one point, Matt and I got broken away from the new friend we made during the walking tour earlier that day. Minutes later we heard people running, then later saw our companion being escorted by security. In one of the photos below you can see me crouching behind a wall so I don't get spotted.

Afterwards, we had a well deserved beer and burger at White Trash Fast Food, a cool apocalyptic themed eatery in Kreuzberg. 
Matt - The day following Spreepark, we went and visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which is situated not far from Berlin. I don't have a lot to say about it, that hasn't been said before, but visiting a Concentration Camp is definitely a heavy experience. The photo below translates to 'Work Makes Free', and is a sign situated at most concentration camps. Morbid. 

Next stop, the mountains of Bavaria!

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