After finally finding the hostel and getting a room even though they had no confirmation of my booking, I handed in my washing - everything in my backpack!! - and went to bed.
It was after one pm and I wanted
to do the walking tour first-up because it is so good to get orientated
for the city before you get started sightseeing.
Even though I had a sore leg from wandering around Berlin for hours while making phone calls to try and find the hostel, I wanted to get up and I am glad I did because it was a fantastic day!!
Our four hour tour lasted eight hours but it didn't seem like that at all.
Our tour guide Brian is the
Creative Director of the Edmonton Opera in Canada and his aunt
is Marlene Dietricht.
We saw lots of sights but a few really stuck in my mind.
'The Wall' is much smaller
and less imposing than I expected.
I guess maybe because it isn't intact and there are no restrictions.
Still, I had to take a moment while I looked at it when I saw it for the first time.
We also went to the Brandenburg
It was built for the army to march through and be welcomed home or sent off grandly but one of the first armies to march through it was Napolean - not quite to plan!
We also saw the hotel where Michael Jackson held the baby over the balcony so I got a shot of that - bet you can't wait for that one!!
We went to Bebelplatz which
is where the book burning took place.
The memorial to this event is excellent..
You look down through a square window in the ground into a room full of empty bookshelves.
It is lit up at night and is meant to look like a fire in the middle of the square.
I thought it reflected the event very well.
Checkpoint Charlie was funny.
It actually isn't the real hut and the "US Soldiers" are German actors - one of them asked me for my number!
Still I had the photo taken with them and the flag just for Dad!
The Memorial was actually in the right place so it is almost authentic!!
The Memorial to the Murdered
Jews of Europe is a big space with lots of blocks that are all
the same size just set at different angles and heights.
I felt quite disorientated when walking through it which was the point because it is meant to show how the Jews felt during this awful time.
We also saw where Hitler's
There were no signs and it is just in the suburbs.
We saw where the entrance was and where his body was burned after he committed suicide.
Brian told us the story of the the last few days and it was easy to picture.
Katarina Witt lives in a house
overlooking the Bunker.
So did the guy who brought 'The Wall' down by accident - more in a bit on that.
Brian told us a lot about 'The Wall' when it went up.
If you were away from home with a sick relative or a mistress you were stuck there.
Couples who got married would go to the wall viewing platforms and stand there so their families on the other side could see that the wedding had happened.
The same with babies which were held up so the families on the other side of the wall could see them.
Brian then told us about the night that 'The Wall' came down.
The man who gave the press conference was stuck in traffic and missed the breifing due to being stuck in traffic so had no answer to the question - "Will travel be allowed between East and West Berlin?"
He said - "Yes"
"When?" he was asked.
After a pretty long pause he said - "Right Now"
It was the news hour and people rushed out of their houses to walk to the wall to see if it was true.
The first people over was a young couple who walked slowly at first and then started to run.
People coming over were asking the West Berliners for a coin to call their family.
West Berliners were driving strangers all over the city to see family.
Brian was crying as he told this story and I had welled up to - it was very very emotional.
The walking part of the tour lasted six hours.
Brian then took us for a drink
to a pub in a small alley.
He said that Otto Weidt had kept a workshop of disabled Jews there saying that they were essential workers to keep them safe from the concentration camps.
It was a cool little place.
I had dinner and then hit the sack - my knee was really sore after such a long walk.
My first stop the next day
was the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
It was a very messy museum but my favourite parts where the stories of people's escapes.
There were people in cut out suitcases and people in speakers being used for concerts.
Babies in shopping trolleys too.
In cars, there were cut out chassis and false bottom boots - they would put tennis balls in the suspension coils to stop the car riding low and therefore looking suspicious.
There was also a guy who cut out the inside of the drivers seat of his car and put his girlfriend in there and then covered it back out and then sat on her and drove back through.
My fave though was the man whose wife was on the other side.
He started dating a girl who looked like her and then they went over the wall and he stole her papers and brought his wife back out using them.
He got nine months in jail for depriviation of liberty but who cares!!
Next stop was the Topography
It was the excavated headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS.
Some of the stories and pics were awful.
One that will stick with me was four soldiers holding guns to the back of the heads of four civilians ready to shoot them and one of the soldiers was laughing.
These men answered to nothing and were just abhorrent.
I then walked to the Holocaust
Memorial to see the exhibition underneath.
As I was walking I noticed paving in the road and then a plaque.
The route 'The Wall' took is marked with paving all through the city which I thought was quite cool.
Then it was to the Memorial
- it was so sad and I cried.
They kept using words like murdered and extermindated.
I can't imagine what six million people look like - never mind that many people being killed - they were so evil.
There were extracts from people's letters showing that word had gotten back to the prisoners about what was going to happen to them.
A twelve-year-old girl wrote a note to her Dad - "I am scared to die. I have heard that they throw the children into the pits alive"
I had to sit down after I read that - it was just barbaric.
I also found out that they used carbonmonoxide before the gas came into use.
They had a voice over room where they read out the names and story of the dead.
It would take over six years to read them all out.
It was a great Memorial - very well done and barely a sound was heard in the place except for the odd gasp when someone read something pretty dreadful.
I then headed back to the hostel
where I gathered all my stuff together and spent a fews hours
at a coffee shop making photo lists and note/diary writing!
I also found out that to deny the Holocaust is a criminal offence in Germany as is the Hitler Salute thing - that is cool too!