Germany - Day 6

Alright, we are rested and refreshed any ready to take out a full day of Berlin. Breakfast at our hotel was nice and got us going for the day. 

Our first trip for the day was to walk the Eastside Gallerry, which is a section of the Berlin Wall, which was still up. From there we followed the wall route to the heart of the city where we checked out Check Point Charlie and some other attractions. Even by 9:00 am the heat was almost unbearable. I just couldn't believe how hot it was outside and being in the sun for any extended periods was really uncomfortable. 

It was on our walk of the wall that we came across a section of Berlin that we really felt uncomfortable in. I am unsure if it is a section of gypsies, refugees or just a poor area of foreigners, but we walked upon a two block area that appear to have some slum apartments. Lined up and down the street were RV's, just tons of them with people living in them. As we walked by there were two men on a bench who said "English". We continued on our way out of that area without lingering. 

We then made it to Check Point Charlie before continuing onto the Topographie des Terrors. I was surprised at how much a tourist trap the checkpoint was. The crowds were intense for a street that was still opened to traffic and there were actors dressed as American soldiers standing around the checkpoint who were willing to take a photo and "stamp your passport" for $5 or so. Sort of disappointed with that. 

The Topographie des Terrors though was something entirely different. A free museum, it is built upon the site where the SS headquarters used to be. A portion of the old foundation is excavated outside the building and with it were story boards explaining the rise of the Nazi party. Inside the museum there is a chronicle, in no hesitation, of the horrors that the Nazi party committed during their reign. It was an impressive museum and fairly sobering. 


After the downtown area we hopped on the subway and headed across the city to visit the Charlottenburg Palace. Another impressive estate from German royalty. Unfortunately our camera died part way through the tour. We hit up lunch across the street at an Italian cafe  for some pasta before heading back to explore the palace grounds. 

Our last major stop for the day was to head up to the Olympic stadium from the 1932 Olympics. It is the last major piece of Nazi architecture that has survived in the city. A major storm hit right when we arrived, but we were able to get some good photos in between the downpours. 
And that is it. We finished up the day back near our hotel. We grabbed some burgers on the street and watched one of the UEFA cup games on TV's set out on the sidewalk. Megan bailed on me when I needed her translation skills for the shop vendor. He was middle-eastern and was speaking german to me. My bill was $15.08 and I could not understand that I needed eight cents for him. 

There was also an uncomfortable incident next to us where a drunk man sat down next to some ladies on the sidewalk while watching the game and he was very loud. The staff pushed him away. Good burgers though. 

The next day we left Berlin. Our trip back to the US took almost 24 hours. Our flight to Newark was delayed five hours from Berlin. Our flight then from Newark to Chicago was also delayed almost two hours. We arrived back in Chicago at 1:30 AM the next day, which was Monday. Brutal couldn't even begin to describe that flight.  Overall a great trip though.  
 

 

Germany - Day 5

Alright, so we made it to Berlin. It was incredibly hot outside, around 95 degrees. Once getting out of the train station we took the subway to the east side where our hotel was. First impressions were not that great and we sort of found ourselves in a pretty rough neighborhood , while taking a wrong turn getting to the hotel. There was broken glass and graffiti strewn about everywhere in the city. It was tough to tell if it was part of the artist neighborhood we were staying in or just a poor section of town.

After settling into our hotel, taking another shower and decompressing we headed out for the day around noon. We hit up the Berliner Dom, which is perhaps the largest church I have ever seen. We walked up to the top of the dome for an impressive view of the surrounding city. 

Next stop was to the Pergamon Museum, which showcases some amazing antiquities from the middle east. The most impressive part of it is probably the reconstruction of the Ishtar gate from the city of Babylon. The stone tables that they had one display were also incredibly detailed and really impressive. By this point we were both pretty tied and I actually found myself nodding off a couple of times while sitting on a bench in the museum. 

Our last stop for the day was to hit up the Brandenburg Gate. Unfortunately there was a sort of summer festival being setup behind it so we couldn't get very close. The US Embassy is located right next to it as well and there were lots of flowers out front in response to the night club shooting that had occurred a few weeks earlier. 

 Dinner was at schlesisch blau, which was a nice restaurant. I had fish and I cannot remember what Megan had. There was a huge summer salad though that came with four or five vinaigrette options. 

Germany - Day 4

Day four had us saying goodbye to our awesome apartment in Munich and catching a train to Nuremberg. We left our photos on the travel wall and hopped on the high speed train for about an 90 minute ride up to Nuremberg. 

What makes Nuremberg so unique are primarily two things. 1) the medieval old town portion of the city, which includes Albrecht Durer's house and the castle and the court house where the Nuremberg trials were held. The old portion of the city is filled with old stone buildings, including some very old stone cathedrals. It was amazing that just a few city blocks held three very large catholic cathedrals. 

More cathedrals and some lunch before we headed off to the Albrecht Durer's house and the castle. 

Albrecht Durer's house was a highlight of the city. Very cool inside. 

Next up was the old royal castle. Great medieval   style here compared to the rocco style seen in the other royal palaces. This is actually what I was expected most of the castles to look like inside. the castle also had a great history of the royal families and the politics around the Holy Roman Empire. 

Next step was the court room where the Nuremberg trials were held. There was a a nice museum attached to the court room, but by this time of the day we were pretty fired. It was hot, in the 90's during the day. 

We finished off the day at a toy museum and some dinner, before we began our true adventure back at the train station. 

I'll let my videos describe our adventure in the Nuremberg train station, but I will add that we ran into a heartbreaking individual while waiting for our trains around midnight in the station. While sitting on some benches waiting for our trains there was a young man sitting across from us. He asked us if we were American and then proceeded to ask how he could get to America. Through our conversations we found out he is Iraqi and he showed us his Iraq passport. He had been living in Germany for eleven years and he was unable to make a living there. He wanted to literally try and achieve the "American Dream". I didn't know what to tell the guy. He seemed so hopeless . The only advice I could give to him was to go online and goto the US State Department website to looking into what the immigration process might be.