History Lessons and Cycling Astray
Sun 17 April to Tues 19 April
History, beauty, nature, culture… This is just a handful of what Berlin has offered to us over the past week. On Sunday morning we rode the red and yellow S-Bahn train with Nadia and Boelie to explore the city centre. After we had meandered through the bustling flea markets on Straße des 17 Juni, we dropped Boelie off at his work and then strolled on for our brief fill of history.
Erected in the late 1700s by the then current Prussian King, our first port of call was Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate). The tall stone columns and mighty statue atop symbolise victory and strength and were greatly juxtaposed against our next stop, the sombre Holocaust Memorial, which called for a stirring reflection on Germany’s more recent darker past. Lastly, in Potsdamer Platz, the very heart of Berlin, we saw a replica of the first ever traffic light in Europe, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a half destroyed church and remnants of the Second World War, and a handful of the 3 metre high concrete and steel rod blocks used for the terrifying wall which once divided this city through the middle. Although the segments of wall, which can be seen standing in various places around the city, represent the harsh reality of the Cold War they are now covered in graffiti with bright colours, often with symbols or words of peace.
Monday and Tuesday were spent searching for cars on the internet. On Tuesday we tried to have a look at one in Teltow. It was supposed to be a 20 minute bicycle ride to the car dealership, but five hours later we returned home (we got a little bit lost) and to top it all off, the man selling the car wasn’t even there so we couldn’t look at it!
The city of Berlin is incredibly beautiful for a city with a population exceeding 3.5 million. For the most part, there are trees lining the streets, many lakes, rivers and canals filled with bird life and stunning architecture nearly everywhere you look. From what we have seen, instead of the city being polluted by a myriad of tall skyscraper apartments, turning the beautiful naturescape into a swathe of metal, concrete and glass, lots of people live in lovely big, old houses, mostly four to five stories high with multiple families living in the same house. A large house will typically be divided into three or four different sections where different families will live. The area where we are staying, Zehlendorf, is especially stunning. Thank you Nadia, Angelika and Peter so deeply for having us stay with you!