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August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Illinois
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August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Since I got such good advice from the forum before my trip, I thought I would post a trip report of how things went. I warn you that my trip reports are generally quite long, and I try to put in practical details that my help future travelers who read them. The main reason I write them, however, is that I like to reread them later so I can feel like I'm going on the trip all over again.

This is my first trip to Germany, and I have minimal German speaking capabilities. I took 3 years of German in school, but since daily life in the US does not provide many opportunities to speak German and it's been many years since said school, I find I have forgotten almost all of it. In a way that's worse than when I went to Italy, which seems odd as I have yet to encounter someone who doesn't speak English here, but had that happen a lot in Italy, and I speak no Italian at all. I think maybe it's because I feel like I should be able to speak German but I can't. Anyway, on to the trip report. I'll post each day as a response to this thread, since I think that makes it easier to read than one long post. Besides, I'm writing it as I go along, so I'll post each day as I get it written.

Illinois
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1. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Day 1 Sun 26 Aug 2012

My flight arrived about 30 min late into Tegel due to Newark having shut down one of their runways for maintenance (or so the pilot said) so we arrived about 8:30 instead of 8:05. Immigration was easy here (as I recall it being in Frankfurt last April as well). I just walked up to the desk and handed them my passport and they stamped it. No questions or anything. Then I had to wait 15-20 min for my luggage.

I got out of the airport a little before 9AM and purchased my 7 day ABC ticket from one of the machines. The machines are yellow and grey (or silver maybe). It wouldn’t take my Chase chip and signature card, although the train ticket machines do in the UK. Fortunately, I had cash, so used that. There was a ticket window with no queue, but I wanted to use the machine to see if my card would work. I just got it, so I’ve been experimenting with where it works. I’ve heard of a couple of credit unions in the US that issue chip and pin cards, so I think I might have to get one of those for future travel.

Anyway, I followed the directions on the Circus Apartments website and caught the 128 bus. There is a machine on the bus where you validate your ticket. I think it was yellow. It stamps your ticket so they know when you started using it. I took the 128 to Osloer Strasse where I changed to the U8 to Rosenthaler Place. From there it’s maybe a 10 min walk to the Circus Apartments. As far as managing luggage, it really wasn’t a problem. There was plenty of room for it on both the tube and U-Bahn, and there were mostly escalators so I didn't have to carry it up a lot of stairs. I did have to carry it up about 5 stairs (maybe 2 sets of 5) to get out of the U-Bahn Station.

The Circus Apartments are really nice. You have the space benefits of an apartment, but they have a concierge available from 7AM to 11PM if you need anything. There’s also a café on the ground floor if you want to go somewhere for breakfast, although I haven’t tried it yet. I was not able to check in when I got there around 10AM, but I left my bags and walked down to Hackescher Markt to take one of the overview walking tours. I hadn’t decided between Berlin Walks and Insider Tours, but ended up with Insider Tours as I found them first.

Inconveniently, I hadn’t thought about changing my shoes, so I had to do the walk in crocs. They’re actually fairly comfortable even on cobblestones, just not very attractive. I also forgot the camera, which was in my bag I left at the Circus. Oh well.

I did the Famous Tour, and it was really a good tour and a good overview of Berlin. I had Michael for my guide, who is from London but has been living in Berlin for 4 years. It took about 4 hours with a 20 min stop for coffee and/or sandwiches in the middle. This was good as I had not eaten since Newark Airport the day before. I was also able to buy a bottle of water from the coffee shop where we met to start the tour.

The tour ends at the Brandenburg Gate, and by then it was 1445 or so, so I decided to go back and check in and get my keys before I did anything else. I was getting pretty tired too, not having slept well on the plane (combined with working a stretch of night shifts before I left, not sure how that affects jet lag) so I decided to rest for a while. Around 5PM I decided to go look for dinner. I ended up going to the Sophieneck restaurant as it was fairly close and was recommended by the Circus. It was pretty good. I had pork medallions with potatoes and braised cucumbers (according to the English translation), which is reportedly either traditional Berlin or traditional German food. It was pretty good, but I was really getting too tired to enjoy it, and it was too much for me to finish anyway. I think it came out to 14E or so. After that I just came back and hung out in the apartment until bedtime, using the time to email my daughter who couldn’t come on this trip.

Illinois
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2. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Day 2 27 August 2012

I got a late start today as I was trying to recover from my fatigue. My plan was to go to the Deutsches Historisches Museum, which opens at 10. I didn’t really get going until after 10, and then I walked down there, which I think was maybe a 20 min or so walk. I decided to give up on breakfast and just get lunch before going in. I ate at the Museum Café, and had sausages with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. It was about 15E including the mineral water, and it was pretty good, especially for a museum cafe.

With all that, it was close to noon by the time I entered the museum. There is a map available when you come in, but I didn’t think the museum itself was very well labeled as to where the different galleries were. I ended up starting at the special exhibition, which was on the DDR, then I went through the 1933 to the 1994 sections. The WWII part was similar to other WWII museums I’ve been to, but it was interesting to see how the post WWII era was presented as Germany was an occupied country for a lot of that time. In American history, the occupation is presented more as the Allies civilizing a country full of Nazis, whereas here it seemed there was more about the German government not having a say in things as everything was controlled by the occupying countries. I'm not sure I explained that exactly right, but it's the best I can do.

After that I went through the sections dealing with 100BC to 1918. I admit I was getting tired or museum-ed out by then, so I didn’t read everything in that section. It did seem like Germany was always involved in some sort of war. There was the 30 years war, the 7 years war, the Franco-Prussian war, and probably some I don’t remember now (I've noticed that with English history too, it seems to be true for much of Europe). I also realized (although I guess I already knew and just never really thought about it) that Germany did not even become one country until 1871, which is recent even for an American. I probably could have spent more time in that section, as it’s a part of history I never paid much attention to, but I was getting fatigued. I thought the museum was good, but a little dry. The captions were almost all in both German and English, although some of the actual objects on display would only have the name in English but some info about it in German. Also, a lot of the documents on display were in German (of course), and I would have liked to have been able to read them.

After finishing at the museum, it was around 4 PM, and I took the 200 bus down Unter den Linden. Unfortunately, the buses only stop if someone is waiting or you push the stop button (yellow on a green box either on the wall or on one of the posts), so I ended up going a stop too far, so I crossed the street and took the next bus back to the Brandenburg Gate. I walked through there and stopped at the Silent Room, which is in the Brandenburg Gate. It is a room where no one is supposed to make noise and people can go to pray or meditate or whatever. I sat in there for a few minutes, and it was actually very peaceful.

Once I got through the gate, I wandered around the Tiergarten for a little while and came across some Global Stones. There are apparently 10 of them in total, but 5 of them are located on the continents where they came from, and on June 21 (I think) the sun reflects beams of light that connects them all.

After a while in the Tiergarten, I decided to go to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Unfortunately, although I had written down that they were open daily, they’re actually closed on Monday (the Info Centre at least – I think you can walk around the stones at ground level any time). I spent a little time walking around the stelae and then walked over to the Topography of Terror, which is open on Mondays. I arrived around 6PM or so, and they close at 8PM, so I only had time to do the audioguide. The audioguide is free, and it takes you around the outside part, starting with part of the Berlin Wall and then pointing out the locations of different buildings that were present at the time of the 3rd Reich. The memorial is located on the site where the Gestapo Headquarters was located. It took me the whole 2 hours to do the audioguide, and that was without listening to all of the secondary parts of the audioguide. Hopefully I will find time to go back to visit the rest of the site.

I walked back up towards Unter den Linden until I came to a bus stop (can’t remember now if it was the 200 bus or the TXL bus) that took me back to the Lustgarten, from where I could walk back to the Circus. I stopped for some takeout noodles on the way as I was not in the mood for a restaurant meal. I also stopped at a grocery store for some breakfast food and some things for dinner.

Illinois
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3. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Day 3 28 August 2012

Today I had a prebooked tour of the Reichstag, one of the few things I did actually book in advance. Looking back, I submitted my request in early May (I got a confirmation email on 2 May) and received my reservation on 8 July and was given my first choice of date and time. My tour was at 10:30, and they requested that you be there 30 min early. I underestimated how long it would take me to get there, and didn’t get there until about 10:10, but that was plenty of time. It was a little difficult to figure out where to go (I had to ask several people) but once I got to the correct door, they checked my name on a list and sent me through an airport type security (metal detector). After that there was someone who checked my passport and then someone else who gave me a badge and told me where to wait.

I thought the tour was excellent, and it was very interesting to see the inside of the Reichstag. I think Norman Foster did a good job of melding the ruins of the old building with the modern building that is there now. You can see parts of the original walls on the inside, and there is preserved graffiti from the Soviet soldiers in 1945. Apparently the walls were originally covered with some sort of plastic when it was first rebuilt (in the 60s maybe?) which was removed for the current renovation and was found to have preserved the graffiti. The tour lasts about 1.5 hrs and covers the main part of the building and some of the function of the German Parliament. It ends at the elevator to the roof so you can then go up to the roof and visit the dome on your own for however long you want. I think I spent about an hour there, which included an audioguide that is free and tells you what you are looking at as you go up the ramp (and back down again). It was a little different from the usual audioguide as you don’t enter any numbers, it just starts talking when you get to a certain point and then stops when it finishes what it has to say. You then keep walking until it starts talking to you again.

There is also a display of photos relating to the history of the Reichstag. Ironically, the photographer who took many of the photos, Erich Salomon, was Jewish and was murdered in Auschwitz in July of 1944. The Loevy family, who created the words “Dem Deutschen Volke” on the front of the building were apparently also Jewish and several of them were also killed by the Nazis.

After the Reichstag visit, I crossed the street to the Tiergarten, and found the Soviet War Memorial. Apparently there are about 2000 Soviet soldiers buried there, but there are only about 35 names on the memorial. I’m not sure why that is, whether they didn’t know the names of the others or if the names on there were more important in some way, or if that was just how many fit. There are also 2 tanks there which are reportedly the 2 first tanks to enter the city during the Battle of Berlin at the end of the war.

I spent a little more time wandering around the Tiergarten, where I found the flower garden, the memorial to Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart, and a body of water that I can’t recall the name of where I spent several minutes watching some very joyful labrador retrievers and one not quite as joyful pug retrieving sticks. It always sort of amuses me to listen to people talk to their pets (usually dogs) in other countries as of course the dogs understand German (or whatever language). The same applies to listening to small children babbling on in a language that seems so hard for me to understand yet is so easy for them. (Although I will admit that DD has taught our dogs to obey “sit” when the command is given in either English or Spanish, so I guess they’re bilingual…)

After that interlude, I went back to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as the documentation center was open today. I grabbed a quick kebab at one of the restaurants across the street (at which point it decided to rain despite the fact that the weather prediction was for 0% chance of rain that day). I’ve come to the conclusion that Berlin weather is just as unpredictable as London weather and you should always be prepared for rain. It’s gone from sunny to rainy to sunny in just a few minutes on at least 2 of my days here, and I didn’t have my raincoat either time. :-( In fact, on this day, it was rainy and sunny at the same time. I was hoping for a rainbow but didn’t see one.

I think I spent close to 3 hours in the documentation center. Entrance is free, but it is 4E if you want an audioguide. I recommend the audioguide as it gives you information that is not on the signs and has some firsthand accounts of survivors whose stories are documented in the center. Next there is a room which gives stories of individuals with reproductions of letters that they sent, postcards that were thrown from the transport trains, etc.

After that there is a room where the histories of several families that were affected by the Holocaust are documented, including family photos and letters. They take the family photo and tell you what happened to each of the members, whether they were able to emigrate, went into hiding, went to a concentration camp, and whether they survived.

The next room is the room of names, where they display the name of each victim, dates of birth and death (if known) and give a summary of their life and death in both German and English (audibly). Each one takes about 2-3 minutes. They say that if they were to do this for all the victims of the Holocaust, it would take over 6 years.

There was an upsetting incident in this room (upsetting to me), when a bunch of teenagers (maybe 16-18 ish) came in and were sitting there laughing and talking. I gave them about 10 min hoping they would either get bored and leave, or realize where they were and be quiet, but neither happened. As they were speaking German, and I am incapable of telling them to stop in German, I walked back out to the desk to tell a staff member. I will say that he was right on top of it. By the time I got back to the room (he had a staff back route there I think), he was in the room and the teenagers were on their way out. I wonder when I see things like that why they are even there if they are not interested. I thought perhaps it was a school trip, but I did not see a supervising teacher, and I don’t know if German schools are even in session right now.

I had something similar happen in Normandy, when we went to the 360 degree theatre at Arromanches. In that case, there was a group of kids, maybe a year or two younger than these who were laughing and joking when they came in and during the beginning of the film. By the end of the film, however, they were no longer laughing and looked sort of shocked.

Anyway, I found that room to be the most moving of the rooms in the center. I like the way it brings out the individuals, as with the numbers involved, it’s all too easy to forget that the numbers were made up of individual people like you and me, with families, friends, hopes, and plans for the future (most of which were never realized, of course). It was also remarkable to me how many people there were who just vanished. The Nazis didn’t really keep records of those who were killed immediately on arrival to the death camps and also did not keep track of who was killed in the mass killings in the East. They kept track of the numbers killed but not the names. I also noticed how many of the names were from the east, particularly the Ukraine and Poland. I knew that a higher number of those killed came from there, but this really brought home how many more there were than from western Europe.

Next there is a room that has information on several of the concentration camps or killing sites (as of course not all of the Jews were killed in concentration camps, especially in the east). In this room there are also stations with recordings by survivors describing their experiences. The exhibition ends with a room with photos of memorial sites from other countries and a display about Yad Vashem. I then came back for a quiet night in the apartment and was glad I could just eat something here without having to go out.

Illinois
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4. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Day 4 29 August 2012

Today I decided to go to Sachsenhausen. I had actually planned that for Friday when I was planning things out, but decided to go today instead as Friday is supposed to be rainy. After some debate with myself, I decided to go with a tour. I chose Insider Tours as I had heard good things about Nigel Dunkley, who does a lot of their Sachsenhausen tours. He has previously served in the British Military, worked at the British Embassy, and been a spy in East Berlin and he is very knowledgable.

It was a very good tour, although I am still undecided as to which is the better way to visit. The tour felt a little rushed to me. You do have time to go into the museums on site, but there was not time to read all of the exhibits. However, I think it was probably easier to get oriented with the guide, and it was certainly easier to get there. On one of my previous threads asking about this, someone suggested that a first visit be done with a guide and subsequent visits be done without, which I think might be a good suggestion.

One advantage to going on your own would be that you could get there substantially earlier. The tour met at 10AM at Hackescher Markt, after which we went to the other pickup point (near Zoo station, I think) to buy our tour tickets and meet up with the other half of the group. We ended up with (I think) 29 people on the tour when we started and then 2 people started tagging along once we got there. (I think Nigel had them pay at the end.) It was a large group but felt manageable, probably because there is so much open space at Sachsenhausen. However, it did take time for everyone to pay for their tour tickets and get train tickets. I would say at least half of the people did not have a train ticket when we met, which surprised me as it says in the tour description that you will need one.

Also, there is no food available at Sachsenhausen, so you need to bring your own. Most people stopped at one of the places in the train station to buy sandwiches. You can fill up water bottles at the taps in the lavatories. There is one at the entrance and another one at the main museum. We walked to the camp from the train station, which does bring home the fact that it would have been impossible for people in the town not to have some idea of what was going on, as the prisoners had to carry with them the bodies of those who had died in the transport trains on the way there, and they walked right through the middle of town. You can actually see the roofs and upper story windows of surrounding houses from inside the walls, so I would assume that if you were in those houses you could see in the camp. I know that some of the houses were for SS officers, but I don’t know if they all were or if some of them were civilian homes. We took the bus back to the station and got back into Berlin about 5:30 PM (to Nordbahnhof where I got off anyway). As I don’t think we got to the camp until close to 1PM (the first train was cancelled for some technical problem which extended our wait), we didn’t have a whole lot of time there. You could easily stay longer on your own if you wanted to, but I didn’t as it was pretty warm today and I was feeling the heat.

As mentioned, I got off at Nordbahnhof, as it was the closest stop to the Circus. It is also right at the Berlin Wall Memorial, so I spent some time there. I started at the visitor center where I caught maybe half of an introductory film in English. It was followed by one in German. I assume the one after that would have been in English again, but I decided not to wait. They’ve done a pretty good job with the site. You can see the foundations of the houses that were right at the border and were later torn down by the East German government as people were using them to escape (since the back door was in East Berlin and the front door was in West Berlin). They also have tried to show how the death strip was constructed, although I expected there to be more of it there to see. In the middle of where the death strip was there is now grass and a bike path. There are also memorials to many of those who died at the wall, most during escape attempts. I was surprised at how many children there were. These included a 1 year old who was accidentally suffocated by his mother as she was trying to muffle his crying during a border crossing check, a 5 year old who fell into the Spree but couldn’t be rescued by the West German firemen because the part of the river he was in belonged to East Germany (it took about 4 hours for the East Germans to retrieve his body), and a 10 and 13 year old shot trying to escape. The 10 year old was apparently trying to get to his father who was in West Berlin from his grandparents’ house where he had been living in East Berlin. I’d guess I spent about 1-1.5 hrs there today, and that did not include seeing the whole film or going to the Documentation Center.

Berlin is an interesting city. It actually feels more like Chicago to me than it does like London , Paris, or Rome (although Chicago has more skyscrapers). I’m not really sure why that is, maybe the age of the buildings? I’m also surprised at how many things are in walking distance of each other, at least in the historic district. I expected to be spending a lot more time on public transport, but maybe that is just due to the places I’ve visited so far. I guess I’ll see if my opinion changes after I’ve been here longer.

los angeles
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5. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

thank you so much. I am going to Berlin next week and your information is really helpful. enjoy the rest of your trip.

Illinois
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6. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

Day 5 30 Aug 2012

Well, today was supposed to be rainy (it did rain some, but most of the time it was just occasional drips, which I’ve seen a lot in London but we don’t really get so much at home – there if it’s going to rain, it rains for real), so I decided it would be a good day to do the tour I had planned with Berliner Unterwelten which does tours of underground sites in Berlin. I did the Dark Worlds tour, which goes through an air raid shelter at Gesundbrunnen Station. It started at 11AM, but tickets are available starting at 10AM. I got there about 9:50AM, and there were probably 15-20 people already waiting. By the time they opened at 10, there were probably 1.5 to 2 times that number in line behind me. I had no trouble getting the ticket, and when I went by later at 10:30, the line was gone. I don’t know what they had left for tickets at that point though. I had bought my ticket by 10:10, so decided to go across the street to Humboldthain Park. There was also a small café next door where I suppose one could get a coffee or something while waiting. I didn’t see any public toilets anywhere though.

I have been enjoying the parks in Berlin, although I’ve only been to this one and the Tiergarten so far. (See Alabastron, if you’re reading, I did listen to you…) I started out wandering through the Rose Garden, which was really pretty with a lot of the roses still in bloom. The only part I didn’t like was the group of smokers sitting in it, as I’d rather smell the roses than their smoke. Fortunately, they were all right by the entrance, so the rest of it still smelled like roses.

From there I decided to find the Flak Tower, which is up a very steep hill. There are stairs or a winding paved path going up to the top, and then at the top there are benches and tables with chairs so you can sit up there if you want. There was a guy running up and down the stairs (for exercise I guess). I also saw a lot of mothers with babies, but they were in the Rose Garden, not on the hill. My understanding is that that is one of the hills created by piling up the rubble from the bombing in WWII. The Teufelsberg is another one, which I think is higher. Sort of an odd thought that you’re actually walking on bomb rubble from about 70 yrs ago, but you would really never know by looking, as it just looks like a normal (but steep) hill. After that I spent some time just sitting in the Rose Garden with my trusty Kindle until it was time to head back for the tour.

The tour was probably the best one I’ve done so far in Berlin. It was really interesting to get a view of how ordinary Germans lived during the war. The tour is through an air raid shelter that was sort of a makeshift shelter built out of part of the U-Bahn that was never finished. (I think they ran out of money during the depression.) They said they’ve had people need to leave the tour due to claustrophobia, but I never felt closed in, and I don’t think anyone left our tour. The tour had about 26 people on it, I think. (There were supposed to be 29 but I think a few didn’t show up.) They have a lot of artifacts that were found in various air raid shelters on display. You are not allowed to take photos as a lot of the artifacts have swastikas on them and they have had problems with people posting items with swastikas on them with their company name next to the photo.

Our guide, Laura, spoke very good English. I was impressed, as she is French, living in Germany, giving tours in English and seemed fluent in all 3. The tour takes about 90 minutes, and I was sorry when it ended. Interestingly, one of the women on the tour thought her great grandfather might have been in one of the photos on display. Another interesting story came from an Australian gentleman, who said his mother and father had been forced laborers in Essen, while his wife’s father was a pilot with the Australian Air Force who bombed Essen. Odd to think your wife’s father was bombing your parents.

The guide also told us about a sort of ID cabinet (can’t remember the German name for it right now) which had a bunch of drawers in it. The staff from the Berliner Unterwelten group found it during construction in Berlin, and found ID cards from several Ukrainian forced laborers and actually went to the Ukraine and found either 21 or 26 survivors in 2004 and were able to get their stories, many of which they had never told before (seeing as Stalin decided that all POWs and forced laborers were traitors and sent them to Siberia). They were also able to get them some compensation from the German Government.

After the tour, I decided to see the parts of the Topography of Terror that I had missed before. I took the S-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz, from where I could walk. When I got to Potsdamer Platz, I wandered through the shopping mall there, which is similar to shopping malls everywhere else. They had several food places, but none looked that appealing. The only store I went into was the bookstore (can’t remember the name), and I did note that they had a fair number of English books in case that helps anyone. I ended up just grabbing a quick kebab for lunch, and headed to the Topography of Terror. I spent about 2 hours at the outside part (which included reading everything but not listening to all their recordings). I did read a translation of one of Hitler’s speeches, and I really didn’t think it was especially good. Maybe it makes more sense in German, but the translation seemed to be a lot of long convoluted sentences that were hard to follow. The translation I read of one of Goebbels’ speeches was easier to follow. It is interesting to think that as you read the displays you are actually standing in what was the basement of Gestapo Headquarters during the war.

I was going to do the inside exhibition next, but a huge tour (I guess) group was just going in, and I had a headache so didn’t feel like maneuvering around them to look at things, and I know there’s a lot of reading there too. I decided to go to the Bendlerblock instead, which is where Stauffenberg’s office was and where he and the others were shot on July 21, 1944 (just after midnight). There is now a Museum of German Resistance there. This was the first place where I really wished I could read German, as most of it was not in English. There is a free English audioguide, which I recommend, but it doesn’t cover nearly all of what is there. Of course, if I could read German, I think it would take me at least a full day to read everything, as there is a LOT of reading.

Part of the exhibit is in Stauffenberg’s office, and I think also General Olbricht, General Beck, and maybe General Fromm’s offices as well. There is also a memorial at the place where General Beck committed suicide. In the courtyard, there is a wreath, which I presume is marking the place where Stauffenberg, Lt Von Haeften, Gen Olbricht, and Col Von Quirnheim were shot. I did wonder how much of it was damaged in the war and reconstructed, as the walls all around the courtyard have windows every few feet, most not higher than my waist. It seems like a window would be a bad backdrop for shooting people as you would be likely to hit the window. I believe they were shot one at a time, though, and you could pretty easily fit one person between the windows. Somehow, I had always pictured a blank wall though.

Even without being able to read a lot of it, I was there for about 2.5 hours. They are having a special exhibition with stories of women who were victims of the Holocaust, and that was mostly in English and German (plus a couple of other languages). There were also English translations of the displays about the White Rose, and for the displays regarding Sippenhaft, under which the families of all those involved or possibly involved were also arrested. I think everything else was only in German, though. Fortunately, today was the day that they are open until 8PM.

I walked back through the Tiergarten, which was full of cyclists and joggers. I wondered what the right of way rules are when you arrive at a junction of paths and there are 3 cyclists, 2 joggers, and a walker all trying to get through the intersection. Along the same lines, I’ve also decided that the most dangerous thing about walking in Berlin is not the cars but the bicycles. They are everywhere. Watch out for red paving stones on the sidewalk (pavement) as those are the bike lanes. However, they ride on the sidewalk when there is no bike lane there too. At one crossing today there were about 10 bicycles all lined up on the other side of the street from me. I decided to do what I did in Rome and just make sure I walked in a straight line and hope they would not hit me, which seemed to work. At least I’m still alive and uninjured…

I was in the mood for a steak, so I stopped at Maredo. I got the rump steak, which is similar to a sirloin in the US, and it was actually pretty good. Not the best steak I’ve ever had, but far from the worst. I think Maredo is a chain, as I’m pretty sure I saw another one somewhere, but this was the one in Hackescher Markt. I had ginger ale to drink, figuring it would be different from ginger ale at home, but disappointingly, it was Schwepps. Tasted just like it does at home. Oh, well. I sat outside for dinner. I have been surprised to see how many restaurants and cafes have outside tables here. I don’t know why, as they do in Paris and Rome as well, but I wasn’t expecting it. The only problem is that people are allowed to smoke there, but the smoke doesn’t seem to be as bad as I noticed in Paris and Rome. The only reason I can think of is that the tables are farther apart here than in either of the other 2 cities. Anyway, after dinner, I stopped at the grocery store and then came home to rest and maybe get to bed early.

NE Victoria...
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7. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

I always enjoy the detail in your trip reports - partly from envy I think, as I could never find the motivation to write something like this. I wish I could! It's fascinating reading. I'll keep an eye out for the coming instalments.

Agree that Berlin feels nothing like London, Paris or Rome. I haven't been to Chicago but to me, it has a character all of its own. I had to cancel the trip there that I'd planned for earlier this year, but am looking forward to getting back to Berlin at some future date. In the meantime, trip reports like this keep me going.

Apart from the wealth of WWII related experiences, are you enjoying the city itself overall?

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8. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

I am indeed reading, bgtm, and am glad you 're enjoying the parks. If you get time for more, you might want to head out to Wannsee, and take the bus to Glienicke where, after seeing the Glienicke Bruecke (where the exchange of spies took place during the cold war) you can visit Schloss Glienicke and explore Glienicke Park, and from there walk along the Havel river to the Pfaueninsel, Peacock Island. The walk, which takes about an hour, and the island, which is a nature reserve, are both beautiful. It was on my first trip there in March that Berlin began to expand for me beyond its centre, and became the limitless space for exploration that it has been since.

From Wannsee you could instead or as well continue to pursue your WWII by visiting the Haus der Wannsee Konferenz. If you do, you could afterwards take a walk through the woods along the lakeshore, another really pleasant excursion.

In the city itself, Treptower Park is huge, bigger even than Tiergarten, and I also very much like the Tierpark, a larger and generally more interesting zoo than the zoo at Zoo, in expansive parkland. Much nearer to the Circus, where you are staying, is Volkspark Friedrichsain, where you can climb two more rubble mountains. Nearer still, on your doorstep, is the small, pretty Volkspark am Weinberg. Nola's am Weinberg, in an elevated position in the park, is a great place to have a drink, snack, or meal on a sunny early evening.

Re the Topography of Terror, Hitler's speeches WERE full of long convoluted sentences. The translation was probably an accurate one, Goebbels, his propaganda minister, was a better speaker!

Edited: 31 August 2012, 08:19
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9. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

That should have read " your WWII interest"! I'm writing on my iPad (in Berlin) and can't seem to avoid making errors.

If you like the Wannsee/Glienicke/ Pfaueninsel idea, you could make a day of it by taking the Stern und Kreis 7-lake tour. You can get off at Glienicke, walk to the Pfaueninsel, and return on a later boat to Wannsee. Not today, though, in the rain!

Edited: 31 August 2012, 08:27
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10. Re: August and Sept trip report - solo traveler

I am enjoying the city. I don't know if it will become my favorite city (which is London at the moment for reasons I can't even explain to myself), but it does have a certain vibe about it. I think it seems to have more of an atmosphere of youth than other cities. Of course, there's a lot of it I haven't seen yet, and I doubt I will see it all in this trip.

I do have Wannsee on my list of things to do, and that list still seems to be fairly long even after several fairly full days of doing things. Fortunately, last time I checked the weather forecast, I think things were supposed to improve, although today didn't end up being that rainy, just sort of grey.

Hope you're having a good trip, Alabastron. Maybe we've even passed by each other. Sometimes I wonder as I walk around a city if I am seeing anyone I "know" without even knowing it, as usually I have no idea what TA posters look like or even how old they are.