John & Anne Wiley

2018/10/22

Berlin

The airliner from London to Berlin flew a little lower than the one across the Atlantic, so we were able to see despite some clouds and haze. Somehow we’d expected a more urban landscape, yet the part of UK on our way out was far more urban than this area around the Berlin airport.

103440 Berlin Landing

103440 Berlin Landing

There’s much more open space and even large tracts of forest beyond this apartment area. Maybe people on the other side of the plane saw central Berlin and more city, but we saw mostly forest and farms dotted with small towns and a few small cities. When we stepped out of the arrival terminal, there was a wolf at the door. Our remarkable friend Wolfgang, who’s involved with the German Green Party. He’d taken time off to guide us to the spacious room he’d generously provided.

131252 Room View

131252 Room View

That treed courtyard has many bikes parked along the walls. People everywhere we saw in UK & EU tended to walk, ride bikes, use the busy bus/train/subway systems, and basically use cars far less than in California. On many sidewalks in Berlin we saw little square bronze plaques like these.

124629 Remembering

124629 Remembering

When the family of a holocaust victim agrees, a memorial plaque is placed outside a building where a person was hauled out of their home to their death.  It’s quite sobering to stand there contemplating that and glance up at a window. With so few surviving relatives to give permission, not many of the known victims are honored. Neighborhoods with many Jewish families in particular could have perhaps a dozen or two plaques where it’s many more people could have lived, laughed and played with their German neighbors and friends. All of this seems to have contributed to a lasting change in Germany, with much attention (and laws) directed at learning from this tragic period of world history. At the Reichstag, the main entrance has the statement: “To the German people” (bottom of this pic).

5688 People Power

5688 People Power

There was an interesting mood in the people we saw outside, including tourists like us from other countries. I guess any government of the people faces similar challenges, and I thought about that as we posed with Wolfgang.

5701 Reichstag

5701 Reichstag

We wanted to go up in that dome, and by great good luck there were tickets (free) available for later so we got some. We walked around, and decided to check out the Brandenburg Gate and the plaza beyond.

05706 Brandenburg Gate

05706 Brandenburg Gate

Earlier we’d wandered downtown, seen pieces of the Berlin Wall and been to a cafe. After meandering the Gendarmenmarkt square we had a great chat over dinner in a sidewalk restaurant at the feet of the Concert Hall, then walked more as sunset approached.

5750 Gendarmenmarkt

5750 Gendarmenmarkt

Finally our time slot for the dome arrived and we went up on the Reichstag roof just in time for a glorious sunset.

194150 Reichstag Sunset

194150 Reichstag Sunset

From there we walked up the spiral walk to the top of the dome, where citizens can look down on their Parliament in action. Or in our case since it wasn’t in session, out across the city.

194617 Dome View

194617 Dome View

Later we strolled among small groups walking in quiet conversation, across the river to the train station. Just outside the station was a lively and colorful outdoor market with live music, and you can see it through the windows of the station in this pic.

210814 Berlin At Night

210814 Berlin At Night

Magical end to an enchanted first day in Berlin, thanks to our generous creative host.

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