Thursday, September 8, 2011

Berlin, Germany written by Vee

This next post is written by a blogger named Vee. She has an interesting story. In 2010 she decided to make some major changes in her life so she walked away from her profession and began traveling the word.

Here's her story as she has posted on her blog:
Only 1200 characters to tell you about myself? That's not enough!! Here's a snippet... In 2010 I decided to change my life. I walked away from my profession, sold everything that didn't fit in a backpack and started traveling the world. I am not on holidays - traveling is the lifestyle I have chosen. I have seen some amazing sights and met some beautiful people. I wish to continue exploring the planet but need to work in order to pay my way. I have just finished a TESOL course and hope to become an English teacher soon. I plan to continue with my travels for as long as I'm able. I'd like to find a base somewhere in Asia and travel from there. I am passionate about traveling! I love to take photos, eat street food, and immerse myself in the local culture. I have learned to live on a shoe-string budget and I love my life. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about my travels and looking at my photos. 

If you wish to read more on Vee's journeys you can do so by visiting her blog Travels at:

 Berlin, German by Vee

If I had to choose one place that has surprised me the most during my travels I would have to say Berlin. I'm not sure what I was expecting before I arrived but 'ultra clean' and 'super tidy' weren't high on the list but that's the first thing I noticed when I stepped off the train at Berlin Central Station.

Despite its tumultuous history, Berlin is a beautiful city which is undergoing an incredible restoration project and many buildings, which were flattened by bombs during the war, have been rebuilt to their original specifications and are now standing proud once again. While I was there I learned that during the war a decision was made to remove all the statues and domes from the top of the buildings and hide them underground so they couldn't be destroyed by bombs. It proved to be an excellent idea and as each building is restored/rebuilt they put the statues back on top and then, at a later stage, make the buildings look old, like they've always been standing there.

Original old dome on top of a new building

There's still a noticeable difference in the West and East sides of town even though the Berlin Wall came down back in '89. The East side isn't as neat and upmarket as the West and people from the East side of town don't seem to walk as tall; as though they're still feeling oppressed. Hopefully as Berlin goes through the motions of healing it will filter through to all the residents, regardless of their address. Parts of The Wall still remain and one section of it has been made into an open-air gallery where artists from all over the world have made a contribution. The East Side Gallery is subjected to frequent damage from the weather as well as vandalism and graffiti. A restoration project commenced a couple of years ago although it has been met with controversy as some of the original artists refused to repaint their self portraits if there was a chance they would be defaced by vandals again. 

Remnants of the Berlin Wall
The East Side Gallery

As you can imagine, there's heaps to do in Berlin. The place is packed with history, memorials, and museums. I rarely go inside museums because I find them a little boring but being a Jewish girl I couldn't go past the Jewish museum and ended up spending the best part of a day there. It is a deeply moving place and many people were in tears long before reaching the exit. Jewish or not, I think it would be difficult for anyone to go through the museum and not be touched by the atrocities that so many millions of Jews had inflicted upon them. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is also worth having a look at. It is quite eerie walking among the slabs of concrete which are of varying heights and have been built on sloping ground. It is said that the uneasiness and confusion that people feel while they walk through the Memorial was one of the objectives of the man who designed it as it depicts, albeit in a very small way, how the Holocaust victims must have felt when they were on their final journey.

Monument to the murdered Jews of Europe
The next two photos are of a sculpture, located inside the War Memorial Building, called "Woman With Dead Child" by artist Käthe Kollwitz. The sculpture is housed in a large empty room and is positioned beneath a hole in the ceiling subjecting the sculpture to the elements. At times it's covered with snow, other times it's wet from rain, or as seen in my photographs it is lit from the bright sunshine above, almost like it's under a spotlight. "Woman with Dead Child" is meant to symbolise the suffering of civilians during World War II and indeed serves as a poignant reminder to us, and future generations, of the perpetual tragedy of the loss of life caused by war. I challenge anyone to stand in front of this sculpture and not be moved by it.


Another interesting place is the new Parliament building known as the Reichstag. It was built with a large glass dome on the top which the public can get to by way of a spiral platform. From the top you can see a 360° view of Berlin and you can also see all the way to the bottom where the politicians sit. The idea behind the glass dome is so that parliamentary sessions are always visible to the public, decisions aren't made in secret, and the politicians only need to look up to be reminded that it's the people who are in charge, not the government. Tip: If you decide to visit the Reichstag be aware that the queue to get in can be very long and there is no shelter. The building is open daily from 8:00am until midnight and to avoid endless hours of waiting in line it's a good idea to go first thing in the morning or late at night. Also, you and your bags will be security checked a couple of times before you can enter. The guards take their job very seriously!

Looking down the glass dome to the politicians' seats in the Reichstag.
Reichstag Building with the glass dome at the back.

There's much more to Berlin than museums and memorials and it's not hard to find a bit of fun without too much difficulty. For example, if you go grocery shopping and have a couple of beers in your basket, the shopkeeper will offer to open one for you so you can drink it while you wait for your items to be scanned! Berlin is the only place I've ever been to that does that! I was finished my beer before I'd even paid for my groceries and right near the exit there's a counter where you can return your empty bottle and they give you a refund which is almost the same amount as the purchase price! How cool is that!! The idea is to help reduce the  litter and broken glass in the streets and it works as, like I mentioned, Berlin is a seriously clean and tidy city. 

The night life in Berlin is lots of fun and there's heaps of good bars and restaurants dotted around the place. If you do decide to go to Berlin one day, I recommend spending at least a week there, longer if you can. It's a brilliant place with an excellent transportation system and many wonderful sights to behold. You can hire a bicycle and head out to the canals or ride around the parks. There's also a huge zoo with an aquarium if you're into that type of thing or you can go to the theatre if you're looking for an indoors activity. I had a great time in Berlin! I hope you enjoy my photos and thanks for reading. :)

Brandenburg Gate

Altes Museum
Love this car!

What's a European city without a canal!


  1. Thank you so much for publishing my post on your blog. I feel honoured. :)

  2. Wow! Very good post, and lovely pictures! You make me want to hop on a plane and visit Berlin this Fall! Now if only I could muster up the time and money... ;o)

  3. Great photos and so interesting, Vee. My parents were able to visit Berlin back in the late sixties and they loved the city, they also mentioned how clean it was and loved seeing the merchants and shop owners sweep and wash their front stoops every single day.

  4. I stand corrected on my previous comment. My parents did visit Germany as stated but of course they could not visit East Berlin.