photo of bearsac with a united buddy bear

Me Tea and Teasac meeting the Berlin United Buddy Bear

May 9th 2006 - Day 1 - Berlin

Met a couple of United Buddy Bears on-route to the hostel. The United Buddy Bears are painted by artists from 120 nations all over the world. The message of the United Buddy Bears is "We must live together in harmony and peace".


photo of bearsac by the pergamon alter

Me at the Pergamon Altar

My wife Tea and daughter Teasac had come too, so we had a real family day. First we visited the The Pergamon Museum (8 euros) to see the Pergamon Altar. The Pergamon Altar was originally built in the 2nd century BC in the Ancient Greek city of Pergamon.

A German archeological team lead by Carl Humann, shipped the Pergamon Altar out of the Ottoman Empire from its original excavation site and reconstructed it in the Museum in Berlin in the 19th century. The Museum also houses other monumental structures such as the Market Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar Gate from Babylon. It's weird having these huge ancient outside structures inside a building in a country not reknown for being ancient.

 

photo of bearsac by the united football bears

World Cup United Buddy Bears

In Friedrichstrasse trian station/shopping mall we met smaller United Buddy Bears representing different world cup teams.

 

photo of bearsac by a war-scarred building

WW2 etched into the walls

We noticed a few bulidings with war scarred walls.

A refreshing paddle in the stepped fountain on the green of Museumsinsel (Museum Island) overlooked by The Berlin Dom was well needed and the fountain sprayed us. There were a TV crew filming a young human couple messing about on a bed on the pavement, the film crew declined my offer to to let them film me and Tea on the bed.

 

photo of bearsac by statue of karl marx and friedrich engels

Can you spot us on the Marx-Engels Memorial

Got herring for lunch in the Hackescher Markt by the statue of the two socialist philosophers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

 

photo of bearsac by the red bull plane

Red Bull Plane with Berlin Dom in Background

I got some free Red Bull from Red Bull promoters when I spotted the red bull car near the red bull model areoplane. They weren't giving it out then but I remembered this in London so asked if they had any free and we got one.

 

photo of bearsac by berlin castle ruins

Here stood Berlin Castle

We next looked at the ruins of Berlin Castle which stood from 1443 until 1950. It was badly hit by bombing on 3rd February 1945 during WW2.

 

 

photo of bearsac and family in a pretend car

Teddy Bear sized car, not exactly va va voom

We paid a quick visit to Peugeot Avenue which had cool cars on display, there was even a teddy bear sized car.

 

Linden tree lined Unter den Linden boulavard

We next strolled down Unter den Linden which is a boulevard of linden trees (lime trees) The name Unter den Linden’, means Under the Lime Trees. Berliners would brummel down the streets of Berlin. To bummel means to cruise the streets. Marlene Dietrich, Berlin’s ‘Blue Angel’, refined the art of bummelling when she sang her songs. Even as the Nazis were cutting down the linden/lime trees she kept singing, "As long as the old trees still bloom on Unter den Linden Berlin will stay Berlin."

 

 

photo of bearsac at brandenberg gate

Me at the Brandenburg Gate

This took us to Pariser Platz to the 'Brandenburger Tor' (Brandenburg Gate) which is the last remaining gate through which one used to enter Berlin. The gate stands 26 m (65 ft) high, (65.5 m) 213 ft wide and (11 m) 36 ft) thick. The gate has served many purposes over the years but I'm not going to go on.

Next we wandered into Tiergarten Park where the bell tower tolled musically as we strolled down the riverside sharing ice-cream.

 

 

photo of bearsac by the reichstag dome

Can you see me at theReichstag's dome

After dinner we went to The Reichstag's dome, which is brilliant. It is made of glass with a spiral walkway to the top, it gives excellent views of the city. You also get to look down on the politicians for a change whilst they are working in the basement in the conference hall.

After the Reichstag we headed back to the hostel. We saw a fox running down the pavement right in front of us, it was the equivalent of a fox running down Oxford Street. Back at hostel and in bed at 11.30 worn out.

 

May 10th 2006 - Day 2 - Berlin

We took the free walking tour of Berlin. The tour picks up people from the hostels and then sets from Brandenburg Gate for 4 hours on foot with a 25 min break.

Jesse, the tour guide was brilliant, he really knows his stuff and makes it very interesting. He told us so much stuff about the sights and of Berlin. If in Berlin and staying in a hostel do this tour. The guides don't get paid but of course get tips so they make the effort to make it good.

The history of the German Mark is really interesting. The guide gave us Mark notes to look at, a 1 Mark note and a 10,000,000 mark note and others in between They were printed only on one side as they were worth less than the ink on them.

During 1923 inflation was so fast and rose by so much that workers were paid twice a day with sacks of Mark notes. They would chuck their sacks of money out of factory windows so the wives could rush to buy food before it escalated in price by the end of the day. Debra followed this subject up on the internet and found that a loaf of bread that cost 20,000 marks in the morning cost 5,000,000 by that night and that the price of a meal in a restaurant rose as one ate it, (bet that caused a lot of indigestion)!
When economic collapse finally came on November 15, it took 4.2 trillion German marks to buy a single American dollar. These days it takes about 1.51 German Marks to buy 1 US Dollar.

We next learnt of how on 27th February 1933 a young Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, was said to have burnt down the Reichstag shouting "Protest"! with a fire torch in hand. He said this was a signal for revolution. When Hitler and Hermann Göring were shown Marinus van der Lubbe, Göring declared the fire was set by the Communists and had the party leaders arrested. Hitler took advantage and declared a state of emergency. It allowed him to transform Germany from a democracy into a dictatorship.

 

photo of bearsac by the holocast memorial

Berlins Holocaust Memorial

We saw the Holocaust Memorial which consists of 2,751 concrete pillars.

 

photo of bearsac over hitler's bunker

Dismal apartment block and car park bulit upon Hitlers bunker

From there we were taken to Hitler's Bunker, (Well at least to the spot where it used to be). It was what is now flats and a car park for the flats. It used to have several bedrooms and a conference room and it is where Hitler shot himself to death. The cool thing about the area now is that it has built over it a very ugly block of flats (the last building phase of the Communist era), an ugly car park and a inferior patch of grass where locals take their dogs to poo on it, assumingly on the anniversary of his suicide. (How I wish I could poo)!

 

photo of bearsac by the berlin wall

Part of the remains of the Berlin Wall

Next was the Berlin Wall. The wall stood 1961–1989. It was erected by the East German government along the border between East and West Berlin, and later extended along the entire border between East Germany and West Germany. It was erected to prevent East. Berliners commuting to the West at a time of growing tension between East and West.
Only small sections of the wall remain and there have been road bricks put into the road and pavement following the line of where the wall once stood.

 

photo of bearsac by checkpoint charlie

Me at Check Point Charlie

The real checkpoint was torn down when the wall was knocked down. However, it was rebuilt as a tourist attraction.

Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of east and west, and - for the East Germans - a gateway to freedom.

There is Cafe Adler just by Checkpoint Charlie. The cafe used to be a hangout for spies and cold war journalists. Also famous movie stars such as Sean Connery and Liza Minelli used to come here while researching their roles as it was the closest they could get to East Berlin at the time.

 

photo of bearsac in front on musical notes and concert hall in gendarmen square

Concert Hall on Gendarmenmarkt Square

Gendarmenmarkt Square, which is beautiful. It is surrounded by, a French and a German Cathedral and a concert hall. In its center is a statue of German's famous poet Friedrich Schiller. There is a statue in the Square in front of the Concert hall, (which you can just about see between me and the first musical note). The Conductors line their backs to the statue during concerts.

 

photo of bearsac by statue of books in bebelplatz

Bebelplatz Sq. Once the scene of Nazi book burning

From we walked to another square, Bebelplatz. This was once the site of Nazi book burning. The Nazi burnt books written by Jews, Communists and those that opposed them.

 

photo of bearsac by staute of friedrich wilhelms

statue of Friedrich Wilhelms

Nearby is a statue of Friedrich Wilhelms, a Prussian army Captain. From here we paid a quick visit to a statue of Mary and Jesus which was housed in small building with a round hole in the roof that lets the sun shine down upon it.

As we head towards Museum Island we see the very tall Berlin Fernsehturm (better known as TV tower). Completed in 1969 it stood 365 metres high. However, after the installation of a new antenna in the 1990s, the height is now 368 metres. The round bit had been decorated to look like a football for the World Cup.

 

photo of bearsac near the berlin dom

Berlin Dom with TV tower in background

Jesse told us lots more interesting stuff on the top of the steps of The Altes Museum on Museumsinsel where the tour concludes.

The Altes Museum, constructed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1830, was the first museum building on the island and it was followed by three other buildings up to 1930.

We made a quick visit to the History Museum (not on the island) where we saw a photo exhibition of all the world cups, but other than that there was nothing else to see.

 

photo of bearsac sitting on the arm of an emormous bear with claws

This bear is just too damn big

I quivered with fear as I sat on the arm of a giant teddy bear outside a shop.

Back to the hostel for dinner and Debra to shower and change for the Gary Numan concert we were here to see.

 

photo of bearsac in front of gary numan as he sings

Me at the front at Gary Numan gig at Club Maria

The concert was at a club considered very cool, why, I couldn't see but the concert was fab and Gary spoke to me saying "Hi there" as he waved at me where I stood on the stage in front of him. The music after the gig was too much for Debra and her sensory overload, even with her earplugs in so we called it night and headed back to the hostel. It was nice seeing Gemma (Gary's wife and Numanoid) and nice meeting Richard and Ade and having my photo with them both.

 

 

May 11th 2006 - Day 3 and departure day - Potsdam

Park on Freundschafts-insel (Frienship Island) with Nikolai Kirche in background

We did a day trip to the beautiful Potsdam. Our first visit was to Freundschafts-insel (Friendship Island) and then over the River Havel to Nikolai Kirche. Potsdam has beautiful buildings, parks, woods, lakes and river.

 

Part of Schloss Cecilenhof

In Neuer Garten park is Schloss Cecilenhof (Cecilienhof Palace) which was erected 1914-1917 for Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
The architect, Paul Schultze-Naumburg was was inspired by the English Tudor style. From 17th of July to 2nd of August 1945 the Potsdam Conference negotiations between the victorious Allies of World War II were held here. The Cecilienhof is the last palace built by the Hohenzollern dynasty.

 

Me, Tea and Teasac Helliger See

We strolled around aimlessly taking time out to sit every so often to take things in at Neuter Garten with it's beautiful lake.

 

Meeting a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog

We met some nice people and dogs on our walk and had a nice ride on a tram back to the station to get beck to Berlin to pick up Debra's rucksack for our flight home.

Got home soon after midnight and told all the other teddies about what a great time we all had.

 

 



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