This year we’ve already tried a bus, a plane, a yacht, a bus, oh.. and a bus; so to be original, this time we took a car. The road from Krakow to Berlin is pretty good since you drive a highway from the very beginning up to the border, which – if you’re not aware – is rather rare in Poland. Passed the German border there are “Autobahns” literally everywhere, even under the city. But that wasn’t the way we chose; we went via Warsaw – the capital of Poland. It would have been too easy if we went straight to Berlin (and we wouldn’t have visited our friends, which was the real reason actually). Warsaw is not exactly the most beautiful city in Poland, yet it’s still interesting and still worth dedicating a post. But that’s a topic for another time, let’s now focus on Germany.
These three days passed by as if they were one, which means they were quite “busy”. We spent most of the time in Berlin, and although we didn’t go on foot as much as we did in Vienna a couple of months ago, we managed to see a lot. The streets and buildings gave me the impression of a big and solid city. In fact, everything around seemed to be solid and that’s how I had imagined Germany before this visit. The center of Berlin is a combination of history and modernity. Walking down the street you see tenement house next to a shiny BMW building next to a 120-year-old church tower next to a Dailmer-Benz and Sony Center skyscrapers. The effect is not bad, providing that it occurs everywhere around. One of the most noticeable examples is the Reichstag – the seat of the German Federal Parliament. Being the mix of Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist elements, it was built at the end of the 19th century but the dome at the top is only 15 years old. It looks spectacular and is accessible to all – after an online registration and an airport-like security check prior to entry (they even played with my torch, which I’m still wondering how it happened to be in my backpack by the way). You can admire the whole 360-degree panorama from up there, as well as from the terrace below. Let’s see what there is to spot on Berlin’s skyline:
- The Television Tower – at 368 meters, Berlin’s tallest structure,
- International Trade Centre – occupied by 135 companies from 15 countries,
- Berlin Cathedral – beside the Lustgarten (or Pleasure Garden),
- The Brandenburg Gate – a national symbol of unity (unlike before 1989) and well known landmark of the city,
- The Holocaust Memorial – 2711 concrete slabs on a sloping site,
- Potsdamer Platz – with the Sony (and not only) complex,
- The Tiergarten – the largest public park in central Berlin,
- The Victory Column – topped by the Goddess Victoria,
- The Carillon – the fourth largest bell tower in the world,
- The Federal Chancellery – the seat of Mrs Merkel,
- Berlin Central Station – really impressive architecture, especially from the inside,
- Cranes.. they’re all over the place – once you pay attention to them, they won’t disappear!
- And many more.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you check everything on the list of what there is to see in a city, if you don’t like going sightseeing. Of course we’re nowhere near as lazy as this, so we went out to see most of these objects from a closer perspective. And on our way we met nothing but a positive energy: a number of young people strolling around, street art on almost every corner – from dancers and (great!) singers to mimes and parades, very nice places with tasty turkish kebabs and beer, and weather.. is it always that good in Berlin?
What I also liked were the Olympic Stadium, the Charlottenburg (similar to Schönbrunn in Vienna), East Side Gallery (graffiti wall) and even one of the hotels in the center – Radisson Blu. From the outside it looks just like a regular expensive hotel but it hides something interesting inside.. a 25-metre tall cylindrical glass aquarium with a transparent elevator going up and down right through it. They say it’s filled with 1,000,000 liters of water and contains over 1,500 fishes. This is where I see myself after I get bored with my present work (you wouldn’t imagine how many divers it takes to keep this big jar alive).
On our way back we visited Potsdam, which is a beautiful city living in the shadow of Berlin. Despite the fact that Potsdam is much more smaller and quieter, it also has these big monumental parks, buildings, churches and even a smaller version of the Brandenburg Gate. The Sanssouci park with a few temples, galleries and palaces (one of which was the summer residence of Friderick The Great) represents the large format style they followed that days in Germany. I’m sure it was too big, even for them – who would go two kilometers back for the cellphone left in the garden bower? There were no cars in 18th century!
While walking down the Brandenburger Strasse, we tried the currywurst – original German fast food dish, though we found it a little bit disappointing. It was supposed to be yummy and big and unique.. but didn’t differ much from the sausage with spices I eat at home when there’s nothing else left (which doesn’t mean it’s bad). But that’s not important.
No doubt, this city has something special that makes it necessary to stop by. Make sure to do it the next time you’re in the neighborhood.
Now, pictures time!