Friday, July 13, 2012

Soggy Mary here for Saturday July 13:

I can't believe that I had to break down and buy an umbrella-I even had my jacket but the skies opened and poured on us. Noah style. No matter.

We began the day by returning to Brandenburg Gate (1791)- the last of 14 gates in Berlin's old city wall. We walked on plaques that indicated where the wall once stood. We also found the Memorial to the Victims of the Wall. These are people who were killed for their attempt to secure freedom. It is "underwhelming" in a city of overwhelming memorials- perhaps this is why it is so powerful.

We strolled around the Reichstag and visited the Memorial to Politicians Who Opposed Hitler. Another small but poignant memorial. Each of these tiles has several names engraved to memorialize the bravery of those who challenged the rise of Nazism.

                                               Memorial to the politicians who Opposed Hitler

Yesterday we could not find the ghost subway stations- those Western lines that looped through the East and were therefore blocked during the Cold War. When the wall came tumbling down the stations were reopened and the blockades removed. Although the cobwebs and furry animals have been removed no other "updates" have been implemented. They are indeed a step back into the 1950's insofar as the design and overall aura. We accidentally decided to take a certain line and voila!, we found it. Ok, Tom "technically" found it. In fact we almost took another line but for some reason, turned in this direction.

We slowly swam our way to the Wall Documentation Center- it is an outside walk that marks not only the outer wall but an inner wall that acted as yet another buffer to those wanting to escape. Sadly a cemetery was in the middle of the wall and many people were not allowed to visit their loved ones' graves. A church also fell victim to the harsh demarcation of freedom and tyranny. A chapel stands in its place today.

                                  Part of the Wall that has been saved as a permanent reminder

Finally, we had to lighten our moods and what better way to accomplish that than lots of chocolate? Fassbender und Rausch is Europe's biggest chocolate store. I was like a kid in a candy store-literally. I went from counter to counter just pointing. Their solid chocolate models of Berlin's landmarks are truly artistic (I had to force myself NOT to break off the tower of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the dome of the Reichstag or the hand of the biggest chocolate bear I have ever seen!)

Last but not least I have a trivia question for those of you reading this blog.  The following building was most recently in the news (ok, recently meaning in the last 10 years) for : ???

Hint: Look at the second floor, last balcony on the right...

Tomorrow we board a train for Munich-the last stop of this incredible odyssey.

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