I woke up at 10am today, a lot later than usual. I got online and booked a free walking tour of Berlin for 2pm, and left the hostel at around noon to get brunch, cash, and get to the meeting point of the tour.
I got a bratwurst sandwich on the way to the ATM for €1,50, successfully withdrew cash, and walked about 2 miles to Brandenburg Gate to attend the free walking tour. The tour was about 2,5 hours long and was incredibly interesting and informative. After learning the history between France and Germany in regards to the Brandenburg Gate, we walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and learned about the design and intent of the memorial. Walking through the memorial was very intense. From the street all of the blocks look relatively level, but in the middle, the ground slopes and the blocks become several meters high. The spaces between the blocks are narrow, only fitting one person through at a time. The monument was very well done and I think that the artist really succeeded in creating something that really forces the visitor to reflect on the holocaust.
After the memorial we walked to a part of the Berlin Wall and a parking lot, which is on top of the former SS headquarters where Hitler shot himself. We then visited Checkpoint Charlie and heard about some of the creative ways East Berliners escaped into West Berlin. We then went to Franzosischer Dom and Alex explained when, how, and why the Berlin wall fell when it did. He told some stories about the East Berliners who rushed the checkpoints and how many of them went to the movie theaters to see Dirty Dancing, the first western cinema they’d ever seen.
During the tour I befriended Eva, a Canadian from Toronto who works for the ministry of health making maps for ambulances. She looks like she’s in her late twenties but is apparently almost forty. We stuck together through the tour and went to a big flea market with a group of Canadian guys from Montreal with very thick French accents. We perused the market, listened to some live music, and then got Turkish food for dinner and dessert.
We then took the U-Bahn to see the murals on some of the existing Berlin Wall and found ourselves in a telephone booth turned mini disco. All five of us squished into this phone booth and danced around to What Is Love with a tiny disco ball, strobe lights, and fog for two minutes. It was definitely an experience.
We then got beers at a bar near a U-Bahn station and parted ways around 11:30PM. Eva and I walked back to the station together and she went back to her AirBnB and I got back to my hostel around midnight. Today was a good day.