Our second full day started off nice and cold. We had another full day on tap, so we bundled up and hit the U-Bahn again.
Trip Fail #1: Creepy dude on the U-Bahn. For some reason, we were gifted with the presence of many an odd character on the public transportation. On our first train, there was someone that was completely passed out on the bench…during rush hour. On this particular train, an older man hopped on and while there were plenty of available seats, decided that the one next to me was the perfect spot. He was eating an egg sandwich, verrrrrryyyy sllooooowwwwwlllyyy. I know it was egg because he kept wiping bits of it on his face and dropping parts of it on the floor. Hawwwwwwt.
Our first stop was Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church was devastating and stunning at the same time. There is a quiet beauty in the reminder of the past. The remains of the entrance hall and the main spire is all that remains. The original tile mosaic is still on the ceiling and the wall.
History Lesson #2 (sorry…y’all are going to get a LOT of history lessons up in herrrrre): Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is just that…a memorial *and* a church. This church was basically decimated during WWII. Rather than rebuild, the powers that be chose to leave it as it is…in it’s gutted and destroyed beauty. It serves as a reminder of the ravages of war and the consequences of our actions.
When we finished up at the church, the weather had gotten colder and well…snowier. We hopped on the U-Bahn again and headed toward the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall. There were a lot of tour groups that had headed in the same direction and when we got to the gallery, we took a quick gander and read up on the history.
History Lesson #3: The East Side Gallery is part of the Berlin Wall that remains. After reunification, artists came to the east side of the wall and added life and color to the once untouchable and drab symbol of oppression and division.
Husband (again being the brilliant dude that he is), had consulted the city map and realized that there was another part of the wall that we could check out with an accompanying museum, but we’d have to U-Bahn it again. No complaints from either kiddo as they were just happy to warm up on the train. We exited the station and came up into the middle of a residential area. I gave Husband the “dude-are-you-SURE-we’re-in-the-right-area” look and pulled out the trusty Google Maps. We followed it for a little bit and came to the Berlin Wall Memorial. Girl Child started complaining of hunger pangs (seriously…this is a theme with this kid whenever we travel) and we found a cute little bistro right next to the Memorial. Luckily, there weren’t too many people inside, so we grabbed some drinks and a couple of snacks.
Next to the cafe is a staircase that presumably goes to the roof of the building. I had seen people coming and going, so I asked the fam if they wanted to go up to the top to see what the vantage point was. I got a couple of yeses and one “meh”. Up we went. When we got to the top, we looked across the street and this is what we saw:
Complete authentic replication of what the area would have looked like when the Wall was erected. It was almost incomprehensible. Seeing the stark reality of not having access to just the other side of a street was sobering. We walked back down the stairs and into the memorial. Girl Child was blown away by the interactive stories of people and families of those that had tried to escape or had their families torn apart.
The snow hadn’t really let up that much and Boy Child was feeling really cold. We went back to the hotel for a couple of hours to warm up and just kind of rest up. Husband and I had decided that we would go grab dinner and then head back over to Potsdamer Platz for one last evening of shenanigans.
Because we had exhausted our fill of bratwursts mit brot (bratwurts with french bread) and McDonald’s, we actually had a sit-down-order-from-a-menu dinner! As per our previous travels, we ended up at a local Italian place: Ristorante Valmonte. The owner was our server and he was wonderful…fluent in Italian, German and English. The pesto tagliatelle was fantastic. Boy Child had pizza margarheta and according to him, “It was legit.” There you have it. Not quite as good as Gustos in Barcelona, but it’s still better than Olive Garden.
Once the bellies were full of Italian deliciousness, we set out for Potsdamer Platz. Because it was a Saturday night, the markets were a LOT busier than they were on Thursday night. After meandering through the Mall of Berlin, we zeroed in on our target: tubing. Because really…how many people can say they went flying down an icy hill in the middle of the Berlin city center? Girl Child and Boy Child both went down twice. While they said the conditions were much better back in Kansas, this was pretty sweet too.
Oh Berlin, too little time with you! Our train departed at 8:30am, so we were up and at ’em early. We got to the hauptbahnhof a little early and grabbed some breakfast. Yes, friends, we totally sold out. German bakeries are fabulous, but sometimes you just
need want a Dunkin’ Donut. Yep…totally happened.
When we got to our platform, we noticed that the train car we had a reservation for was no longer with the train. They told everyone reserved in our car to just move into the same seats in a different car. Okay, no problem, right? Wrong. At the second stop, we had a bunch of passengers that boarded our car and wanted their rightful seats. Since I knew my German wouldn’t be able to get us out of this situation, we had to switch to English and get one of the attendants to help us sort the mess out.
Since we had gotten slighted, they made it up to us by moving us into First Class. Note to self: when the price point is less than $50 more for 1st Class tickets, you spend the extra moolah. It’s TOTALLY worth it and a lot more comfortable. They had to split us up, but we were all okay with it…something about
too much a lot of togetherness?
Berlin is an absolutely amazing city. I am already looking forward to going back and visiting…maybe when it’s not so cold and/or snowy outside. There were quite a few things that we just didn’t have enough time to check out, that we *know* are absolutely worth checking out. Berlin was surprisingly affordable. While there were many places that charged admission, there were still many that did not and don’t skimp on your experiences. If Berlin is on your maybe list, move it over into your “yes, let’s” list.