Berlin – Part 1 – The Berlin Wall

After feeling like time was standing still during the 13-hour train ride from Paris, arriving at Berlin Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) quickly flung us back to reality, LOL. The station was enormous, confusing and crowded. One thing we learned very early on in Berlin was that many of the train and transit stations also serve as fairly large shopping centers. Here at Hauptbahnhof, there were so many different levels and places where our friends could be waiting for us, so we wondered around, suitcases in hand, through the entire station. Although there were signs everywhere declaring free Wifi, I couldn’t get a connection until I found Starbucks, always a welcome sight for confused travelers because of their no-hassle free Wifi. So I connected and found the message that our friends would be late – just as they arrived, LOL.

The second thing we learned very early on in Berlin is to always use the clean (and usually free) bathrooms whenever possible. Usually the ones in these train stations/shopping centers were clean and payment seemed optional. And when payment was solicited, it was cheaper than other places in Europe, which usually charge a whole Euro, but here in Berlin, 40-50 cents was quite acceptable. Good to know.

And the third thing we learned early on in Berlin was that we had to drive a lot to get anywhere. Berlin is a huge, bustling city, and we realized very quickly how fortunate we were to have Kerstin and Janine there to help us get around and understand what we were seeing. Many of the signs were only written in German. We would have been very lost and probably would not have seen even a quarter of what we saw, thanks to Kerstin and Janine.

Our first stop from the train station was the Berlin Wall. Here’s a quick description taken from Wikipedia:

The Berlin Wall…was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin.[1] The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls,[2]which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” [beds of nails] and other defenses.

After seeing pictures of this Wall and hearing the stories for most of my life, it was surreal to be standing here looking at what was left of the wall now. Since the fall of the Wall, which began with the widely televised coverage of ordinary citizens chipping at and demolishing sections of it on the evening of November 9, 1989, most of the Wall has since been destroyed. But a “longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the Spree River near the Oberbaumbrücke [Bridge], nicknamed East Side Gallery” (Wikipedia) still stands, now covered in covered in “graffiti that did not exist while the Wall was guarded by the armed soldiers of East Germany”(Wikipedia). This stretch of Wall was very colourful, and the “graffiti” were beautiful masterpieces to us, heartfelt expressions of the celebration of freedom and commemoration to the lives lost while trying to flee to the West. We were moved by many of these paintings and impressed by the vibrant artistry of so many of these painted sections of the Wall (actually, Berlin was full of vibrant art everywhere we looked!) Many of the artists clearly left a part of their hearts on that Wall.

Today’s photos are primarily from the Wall, and most won’t be captioned so you can enjoy them through your own eyes rather than through my interpretation of them.

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Our first glimpse of the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery

Our first glimpse of the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery

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Kerstin, Sharon and Janine, at the Berlin Wall

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André and Kerstin at the Berlin Wall

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André at the Berlin Wall

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Sharon at the Berlin Wall

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André and Sharon at the Berlin Wall

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The famous Kiss photo, depicting a kiss between East German leader Erich Honecker and his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev, painted by Dmitri Vrubel; (for more info on this one, click the link at the bottom of the page)

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This was a neat place. It's a little souvenir shop which offers to stamp passports...both Andre and I chose the East Germany and the Checkpoint Charlie stamps - a really neat souvenir!

This was a neat place. It’s a little souvenir shop which offers to stamp passports…both Andre and I chose the East Germany and the Checkpoint Charlie stamps – a really neat souvenir!

When the summers get really hot, the asphalt melts and people stick their  bottle/beer caps into it. All along the Spree River behind the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall.

When the summers get really hot, the asphalt melts and people stick their bottle/beer caps into it. All along the Spree River behind the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall.

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The Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin: a double-deck bridge crossing Berlin’s River Spree. The upper deck of the bridge carries the U-Bahn (train)

The U-Bahn train crossing the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin

The U-Bahn train crossing the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin

The Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin

The Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin

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Our last glimpse of the Berlin Wall for the day

Click “Here” for more info on the Kissing photo.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2014. All rights reserved.
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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
This entry was posted in Berlin, Berlin Wall, Germany, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Berlin – Part 1 – The Berlin Wall

  1. Excellent! 13 hour train ride. Oh my Gaaaawd. Next time… just flying, or not? You have excellent advice here, and the pictures were awesome. Thank you Sharon!

    Like

    • Sharon says:

      LOL! I don’t think we’ll ever do that again. As soon as we got to Berlin, we had already decided to fly back to Paris! It was an adventure but we have no desire to repeat it. 😊

      Like

  2. Wonderful pictures! Some of that ‘graffiti’ is beautiful.

    Like

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks, Ruth. Really, some of those are works of heart and art! We did see a lot of graffiti everywhere in Berlin, including on some of these sections of the wall. But thankfully it was not enough to obscure the workmanship underneath.

      Liked by 1 person

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