"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Berlin, Part Zwei

Marking The Wall

While we were in Berlin we were constantly trying to figure out whether we were in the former East Berlin or West Berlin. Sometimes the communist block architecture of the buildings gave it away, but most of the time, especially in the center of town, it was difficult for us to tell. However, for many of the Berliners that we met, they still function like the wall is still there since their daily activities rarely lead them to venture from one side to the other. There are a few remnants of the wall left, but most of what remains is a line on the ground like this or a row of cobblestones signifying where the wall once stood.


Remnant of the wall, as viewed from former West Germany

Same piece of the wall, but viewed from former East Germany

They were doing some excavations at the time of some prison/torture cells they recently found underground on the East German side.

Checkpoint Charlie

This is one of the main checkpoints you had to pass through in order to go from West Berlin to East Berlin. Now there is a museum on the site featuring various artifacts from people's attempts to escape from the East to the West.

The Holocaust Memorial

I'm not sure what the person who designed this memorial was going for, but I will say that it is definitely stiking.

Walking in between the rows of stones in the memorial. The ground slopes down at points, producing a dark, labyrinthine effect.

Underneath the memorial is a great museum that gives a brief overview of the Holocaust and tries to highlight the names and faces of the Holocaust victims. In this room the name of each person who died is read aloud.

And now, on a lighter note....

We spent an afternoon relaxing in Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It is bordered by the Concert House, German Cathedral and French Cathedral. The French Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 18th century by French Huguenots seeking refuge in Berlin. The area around the square still has a French feel to it. After sampling some chocolates at the famous Fassbender & Roasch Chocolaterie, we chased pigeons with Penelope in the square.


Berlin, Part Eins

For the past week we have been exploring the sites of Belin, thanks to dear Senator Fulbright. We have to say that he has been quite a generous host. He's taken care of our travel expenses, accommodations, meals, and even thrown a few lavish parties at premiere sites around Berlin.

Brandenberg Gate--the most recognizable symbol of Berlin

It was also a symbol of divided Germany as the Berlin Wall ran right by it.

Looking at the side of the Brandenberg Gate towards the Reichstag, which is the principal sight of the German government.

In front of the Reichstag--notice the glass dome.

Standing by the Dom with what was the East German TV tower in the distance. The tower was built as a symbol of Communist power and progressiveness. Our hotel was right next to it in Alexanderplatz.

Most of the major museums are located on 'Museum Island' in the middle of the Spree River. Below is the Bode Museum.

The best of the Berlin museums (in our opinion) is the Pergamon Museum. It houses, among other things, the Pergamon altar, the market gate of Miletus and the famour Ishtar Gate of Babylon. What is unique about it as a museum is that its famous artifacts are actually part of the structure of the museum--so they can't be moved.

Penelope, though happy to flirt with other museum visitors, was not too impressed with the actual artifacts. And given her lack of sleep the night before, she was a bit cranky to boot.

Pergamon altar

The market gate of Miletus

Lion from the Ishtar Gate

Ishtar Gate of Babylon (ancient Iraq)

Viewing the Ishtar Gate from the perspective of ancient Israel's exile in Babylon is a particularly sobering experience.

The biblical prophets weren't exaggerating; the Babylonians were a fierce and powerful people. The displaced Israelites must have been quite overwhelmed.

(To fully understand the picture below, you must realize that Penelope was emitting loud wails while I was rocking the stroller back and forth in a desperate effort to put her to sleep. In case you were wondering, I finally won.)

The processional way lined with lions

This is a wonderful example of the bright brick tiles. One can only imagine how they shimmered in the hot Iraqi sun over 2,500 years ago.

Gazing onto the River Spree

Museum Island on the right and the Dom in the background

Boat ride on the river

The Berlin Dom (cathedral)

The Dom lies in former East Germany. It was heavily damaged during the War and left in ruins by the East German government (Christianity being something of an embarrassment for the aspiring German communists).

After reunification, the restoration of the Dom began, but only recently have actual services resumed.

Today the Dom is both the home of an active Protestant community and also the venue for many concerts--especially concerts involving an organ.

We were fortunate enough to worship with the Berlin congregation during a Sunday service.

It is impossible to capture the beauty and grandeur of this church, and there is no substitute for worshipping in the midst of such thoughtful and theological art and architecture.


Train Ride Amusements

We had to get a bit creative to occupy Penelope during the four hour train ride from Nuremberg to Berlin. Luckily we were able to plant ourselves in the luggage/wheelchair area where she had a bit of space to move around and explore.

Trying to figure out the automatic doors to the main cabin occupied a good, oh, three minutes.

Then we met Juri and his mom from Berlin. Penelope and Juri quickly forged a friendship, and then the time flew by. While the kids traded toys, the moms swapped stories about raising children in their repesctive countries. We did our best to navigate the conversation while switching between German and English. Penelope and Juri had no problem communicating, however.

Before we knew it, it was time to get off the train and explore the city of Berlin.

More on that to follow...