Berlin – the capital. It is miles away from Stuttgart, but whats a visit to Germany without at least a peek at Berlin!
Though they say there never is a bad time to visit Berlin, we certainly did find one :) . It was raining quite bad and we had to shorten our visit to just over a day and a half, due to both bad weather and bad planning. Anyway what we saw was pretty good. We left in the early morning on a Toyota Avensis, a big but comfy car, and managed to avoid most of the early morning traffic somehow. We reached Berlin quite early in the morning and checked in to a youth hostel in the Eastern part of the city. We began our journey from the Prenzlauer Allee railway station. Our first destination was off course Alexanderplatz. It is a very nice open area, right in the middle of the city. Some attractions around were the Fernsehturm (the TV tower) and Marienkirche. We walked around the place and along the boulevard Unter dem Linden with a lot of beautiful buildings all around.
The end of a long walk lead us to a park (I forgot the name) with two huge statues of the founders of Communism – Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Spending some time there we headed towards Bebelplatz. It was Christmas time and the place was lovely with a big Christmas market. We continued our walk through Friedrichstrasse and finally reached Checkpoint Charlie. The whole place spoke of a lot of history. This was the dividing line between East and West Berlin. It is well preserved for everyone to see, including the sandbags for the soldiers and signs warning that “You are about to enter the American Zone”. It is unbelievable that this city was divided between two countries just around 15 years ago.
Tired legs told us to take the train and we reached the most famous landmark in Berlin – The Brandenburger Tor. It is a magnificent piece of art, I must say and naturally it was time for the cameras to click! We then moved to the Reichstag – the German parliament. The sun was already fading and it was getting really cold, so we had to call it a day and went back to the comfort of our hostel.
Next day it started raining, so after a stroll through the not-so-spectacular park built by the Soviets (again my memory fails me to name it) we decided to leave Berlin. We then drove to the famous Magdeburg water bridge, we had seen only in email forwards. It was not so easy finding the place, but for once our navigation system was a great one and we did manage to reach the place, though not after getting misled several times, but I blame human error for this one :) The bridge is a great engineering marvel to say the least. Walking on it was a different experience altogether, fighting off the strong and cold gusts of wind, blowing from all directions. The town of Magdeburg was beautiful too and as Renu quipped, every street in town did have a story to tell.
Well the other highlight of the trip was off course the blitz through the autobahn on the Avensis! Another great trip despite the weather…