We arrived in Berlin in the morning and realised that we had been given slightly wrong directions to our Airbnb place…and our phone was refusing to load Google maps. 3 hours after we got on the train at the airport we managed to find our apartment and promptly collapsed! We managed to revive ourselves that evening with a walk to Schloss Charlottenburg, a nearby castle that had a Christmas market in front of it. The markets are so cute and have lots of Christmas crafts, food and drink for sale. We had a great time wandering around, drinking hot Gluhwein (mulled wine) and sampling sausages and salmon.
The next day we took ourselves for a walk in the city centre. Our first stop was the Reichstag, the German parliament. Here we booked tickets to come back later that day and climb up into the dome. The dome climb was interesting and came with a free audio guide – unfortunately the day was so foggy that it was difficult to see most of what was being described!
After we booked tickets we went for a walk down an icy path, past the memorial to the gypsy victims of the Holocaust and down to the Brandenburg gate.
We moved on down past the main Holocaust memorial and then walked down to Potsdamer Platz. Here we found another Christmas market and went on a toboggan run! (Lots of screaming from me!)
In the afternoon we strolled down Unter den Linden to Museum Island. Here we visited the Pergamom museum, notable for having parts of the original altar from Pergamon. They also had a partly original/partly reproduced gate of Ishtar from Babylon. This was really interesting to us having visited Pergamon! http://meanderingkiwis.com/an-acropolis-an-asclepion-and-a-red-basilica/
On our second day in Berlin we visited the East Side Gallery. This is a stretch of the former Berlin Wall which has been turned into an open air art gallery. Unfortunately, a lot of the beautiful pieces have had graffiti scrawled over them, which detracted from the effect somewhat. We took a freezing walk along the wall – we really felt the below freezing temperatures outside in Berlin!
Our next stop was Checkpoint Charlie, the famous border crossing between East and West Germany. We found an interesting outdoor information stand where we learned about the different crossing attempts over the years.
Our final stop for the day was the beautiful Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church. This church was bombed during World War Two and then rebuilt. They have kept part of the old church incorporated into the design although unfortunately it was being renovated so we weren’t able to see the tower. We went into the memorial hall and saw the statue of Jesus that survived the bombing, and learned about the history of this church. Then we were able to go into the beautiful new church where we listened to a chamber music group rehearsing before heading out into the Christmas market and grabbing – what else – a Gluhwein to warm ourselves with! (Side note – one can buy a litre of Gluhwein at the local supermarket for about $2…we may possibly have taken advantage of this fabulous deal!)