Tue 14 May ‘13 – day 3 Berlin has changed beyond recognition since I was last here, the weekend after the Wall had come down in Nov 1988, when the whole city was in party mood.
After a typical German breakfast, it was a short walk to the U Bahn station where I bought a day ticket for the U & S Bahn trains; excellent value at €6-50. First stop the Berlin Tourist Information office at the Hbf, always a good place to get the latest and up to date gen on attractions and tours etc. Very helpful staff all speaking good English and I am given an excellent selection of maps and pamphlets.
Then off to see the Reichstag and go up to the roof and walk around the Lord Norman Forster designed glass dome on the roof (scenes in X-Men were filmed here) from where there should be some good views.
It is possible to pre-book tours of the Reichstag on-line, but as my computer had been playing up before I left home I had been unable to do this, so it was a case of joining the queue at the ticket office and seeing what was available. I am in luck, as I near the front of the queue we are told that a block booking for immediate entry has been cancelled, so I take one of the available slots.
You must have an identity document to get a ticket, so I show my passport, am issued with the ticket and then it’s a short walk to the security point in front of the building. Another check of the passport, bag through the x-ray scanner and then join the queue for the lift.
From the roof the views are great, the Tiergarten to the front left and stretching away in to the distance; to the left and slightly behind the Reichstag is the Brandenburg Gate and this is where the views are the most atmospheric.
I remember standing on the viewing platforms in 1986 and looking out across the Wall and the Death Strip and wondering if things would ever change. The then and now pictures show just what a contrast it is.
On the far side on the Gate is the new American Embassy which quite frankly does absolutely nothing to enhance the historic area in which it is situated. Beyond the embassy is the Holocaust Memorial , 2711 dark grey slabs all of a different size; a slightly disturbing place even on a bright and sunny day.
Having spend the morning walking around it’s time to take the wait off my feet, so I went on a boat trip around the Berlin waterways, definitely a different way to see the city. Just sit back and watch the scenery go by while having a glass (or two) of the excellent local brew. At one point we passed the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall; of the 155km originally built, just 1½km remains.