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Berlin is a city of contrasts being fairly recently reunified. To think about an incredibly war-torn city being divided in half, at first with barbed wire fences and later with an actual wall, it is amazing what the citizens have accomplished.
Reminders of the 87-mile-long Berlin Wall are still seen everywhere in the city, whether it is actual sections of the wall still up for a reminder or the double wide brick line that travels through the town where it used to stand.
From 1961 to 1987 families were divided, friends were gone and the divide of economic and social complexities were growing. The Soviets really didn’t care about restoring or investing in their new holdings, in fact many places were “looted” and sent back to the mother land. Everything from fancy statues at town halls to relics in churches seemed to disappear to the Kremlin or were hidden in the underground to save for the future.
The Historic Brandenburg Gate that Napoleon admired was shut down behind the Berlin wall and impassable. Commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm, the Brandenburg Gate was designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans back in 1791. The monument is crowned with the sculpture of the Quadriga, a four-horsed chariot driven by Victoria, the winged goddess of victory. The locals refer to it as Nike, the Goddess of Victory. Napoleon admired the sculpture and absconded with it when he left Germany. It was finally returned and stands magnificently atop the restored monument.
One interesting things: most of the trees in the city are the same height. Berlin was heavily bombed during World War II and all the replanting was done about 70 years ago.
We checked out the Reichstag parliament and the Berlin Cathedral and even saw Madame Chancellor’s new digs. We chose not to peruse the Holocaust memorial, as we had been to Buchenwald. Miss Sarah just turned 11 and the Holocaust is a pretty heavy topic to spend a lot of time on for a person her age.
Then we hit the German Historical Museum to visit the National Exhibitions for the Reformation Jubilee: “The Luther Effect: 500 Years of the Reformation”. You will hear me talk more about Martin Luther and the Reformation next week as it was the catalyst between medieval times and the Renaissance. The museum still sports it’s war ravaged statues out front, as a reminder of what they have survived.
We did stop at a McDonald’s of all places, for dinner. I swear, if the McDonald’s in this country were run like the Germany ones, Culver’s would be out of business! With stricter standards for consumables than we have, even Orange Fanta is amazing with its lack of orange food coloring and enhanced flavorings. A selection of 7 different salads to try, and all are hand tossed before being served to you. Let’s talk about the dessert station: I still find it hard to believe that the best chocolate cake I have ever had come from here and was just under 2 Euros. Scrumptious down the to the chocolate gnache topping, it was amazing.
We just scratched the surface of this incredible city with our one day there, but could have easily spent a full week to explore. The Eastern side has worked so hard to recover over the last 30 years, it really is quite a thing to see.