Having Matt here right at the end of my Berlin stay means that I get to revisit all my favorite places in Berlin and hit the last remaining high points before I jet out of town. Here are a few highlights from the past couple days:
1. Reichstag Building
The Reichstag dome is in my top 10 sites in Berlin. I love the green construction, the environmentally friendly solar panels and light reflecting mirrors, the curving walkways and the views over Berlin rooftops. I first visited this dome right after I came to Berlin so it was really interesting to see it again 5 weeks later, now that I know all the surrounding terrain and I have so many memories of visiting these sites.
The dome requires advance reservations but after my last visit, I’d discovered a cafe on the roof of the Reichstag that serves breakfast and includes dome admission. Breakfast and tourism? Done and done.
The “feel good breakfast” was enormous and inadequately shown here
It included meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, fruit salad, yogurt, several different kinds of bread, chocolate brioche, champagne, orange juice and coffee. Incredible! We ate on the glassed-in patio, which was a tiny bit like eating in a greenhouse once the sun came out; but we put on sunglasses, they opened some doors for airflow and the food was delectable.
Thus fortified, we moved on to
2. War memorials
This memorial in front of the Reichstag is a very small unassuming monument to the 96 politicians of the Weimar Republic who opposed Hitler. They were the first men he sent off to concentration camps, where all of them died.
Each stone is engraved with the man’s name, his political party, the concentration camp where he died and the date of his death. It’s not much in the way of recognition but at least there’s acknowledgement that some good men tried to stand up to the tide of evil that swept Germany. They died for it but I hope they knew their sacrifice wasn’t completely in vain. Had Hitler had their help, he might have succeeded.
We revisited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, which was just as powerful the second time around. I’ve written about it here.
This is the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe, a few of the gypsy tribes that Hitler tried to exterminate.
It’s a small reflecting pool in a secluded spot with part of the poem Auschwitz around the sides. Subtle, quiet and lovely.
On the other hand, the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism in Tiergarten looks like a peep show.
Inside that concrete box is a beautiful film of people kissing, which we viewed through the one window. I like the sentiment of the film but wish the whole memorial were designed differently. I feel that the memorial promotes what it’s trying to fight against, the idea that gay love should be hidden. I’m glad there’s a memorial but… I could wish for something a little less closeted.
This massive space used to be an airport.
Several important airlifts were made from this airport during the war. The hanger had been on the list of largest buildings on earth with the world’s smallest duty free shop – an intriguing contrast – as well as one of Europe’s few airports that predate WW2. It closed in 2008 and now it’s a park
Where people kite board down the former runways
And skateboard, and bike and have picnics and sports rallies and occasionally festivals. As you can see from the skies, we brought the rain, which hit while we were in the middle of that massive space nowhere near any shelter. We had to run for it but then we were treated to a glorious double rainbow
I bet Tempelhof is fantastic in the summer. I had visions of a picnic here but the weather hasn’t cooperated. Next time…
Ritter Sport is the German chocolate of choice.
It’s not boutique but it definitely has variety with 30+ regular options and then new flavors and combinations released every season. I’m not a huge chocolate fan but when I heard about the Ritter-Sport Bunte SchokoWelt where I could mix my own chocolate bar, I had to try it.
This little shop has a long counter with dozens of mix-in varieties of fruit, cookies and candy
Each custom bar costs 3.90E. I chose my chocolate (dark) and added three mix ins – sour cherry pieces, cocoa nibs and crunchy candy gold stars. 30 minutes later, Ritter Sport!
This store has a lot of Ritter Sport at good prices as well as a small chocolate museum with a few interactive bits, a video and photo ops
As well as an ice cream bar where they make German style blizzards, You pick your Ritter Sport flavor and they’ll crush it into soft serve ice cream and serve it to you in a cone.
For people who think too much chocolate is not enough chocolate, I highly recommend Ritter Sport Bunte SchokoWelt.
5. When in Berlin, you should go up a tower for an aerial view
I dragged Matt up the 284 steps of the Victory Column in Tiergarten because European trips always include tower climbs.
As with the Reichstag, it’s so different to look over this city now after living here almost 6 weeks. The landscape looks so familiar.
We then went about our day and at the end of it found ourselves in Alexanderplatz under the TV tower
I’d written – somewhat scornfully… – about this tower before about how it’s a big deal but I didn’t get it and how it costs 12E to go up the tower. Well, it’s a big deal because it’s the tallest thing in town and the tallest thing in the country of Germany. It actually costs 11E to go up the tower – pardon! – and it was approaching sunset when we got there so we decided to check out the view.
Beautiful, although Berlin doesn’t have much in the way of a skyline. Given the swampy ground it’s built on, big tall buildings don’t stand much of a chance. While waiting for the sun to set we got a glass of wine at the bar
and met delightful Eloise from Dublin
And stayed much longer than we’d intended. Which is how all good nights go.
The TV Tower does have great views over Berlin and going up inside is much like visiting the Empire State Building, the London Eye or Chicago’s Willis Tower. There’s nothing quite like an aerial view over a city so it’s almost always worth a visit. I like the old school Victory Column but the TV Tower has kitschy charm as well.
Ok, more tomorrow. I’m off to enjoy my last day in Berlin!
Best of Berlin with MJH, Part 2 is here