When you go abroad, it is a common tendency for every tourist to like the new places and cities that you visit. It is natural for you to fall in love with the culture and traditions of a new place, or the cuisine that they have, or for that matter cleanliness, calmness, peace and many other factors that may be different from what you have at your homeland. But there are very few cities that manage to ‘impress’Â a tourist, or set a person thinking, and Berlin for me, was one of those places.
I was expecting it to be one of those places in Germany which would be filled with historical sites, museums, old monuments etc. that most people just look at, click pictures and come back without even remembering the complex names. And while I was proven right at first when I was told that my first stop would be at Brandenburg Tor followed by the famous Museum Island, I was unaware that there were great surprises lying ahead for me.
Yes, Brandenburg Tor is that historical gate of Germany that every child would not want to go to. He/she would question his/her parents as to what is there in standing in front of a gate and clicking pictures of it. But the child would never complain about the lovely horse-carriage ride that is offered in the gate’s complex. And youngsters would love the rides on Beer Bikes, famous in Germany.
That’s when I realised that Berlin was a perfect blend of old tradition and modernisation. The same gate that was of extreme historical importance long time back now stood in a modern complex with great cafeterias and shops just a few steps away. There were libraries and universities in the vicinity, and the modern fountains and well-kept gardens were proof of the fact that the city was not exactly as boring as you’d think it would be.
Crossing the gate, I found there were well built roads all over with innumerable impressive buildings. The Reichstag Parliament House was again an old beautiful building with great architectural work, but inside it houses the glass dome, which is indeed a treat to the viewer’s eyes. Upon listening to the audio guide, I got to know more about the complex structure of the dome, and how solar energy facts were incorporated in architecture to build this technical and architectural marvel.
Moving more towards the modern history side of the city, I visited the Memorial of the Murdered Jews, and the exhibition for the same was heart-touching with letters and diary entries of those Jews who were killed all over Europe. Surprisingly however, when you step out of the exhibition, you see a lively plaza in front of you with a huge number of restaurants and shops lined one after the other. When you start walking towards that side of the city, you reach the most famous area, Alexanderplatz. With a beautiful fountain right in the center of the plaza, one would want to spend the entire day there peacefully, simply lazing around. But there is more activity there than you can imagine.
The TV tower at Alexanderplatz is known to have a revolving restaurant at the top from where you can have a great view of the entire city. And if you still wanted to go higher, then just a few subway minutes away from the plaza is Checkpoint Charlie, where a hot air balloon ride awaits you. It is near this area that you can also see the remains of the Berlin Wall and visit the Topography of Terror exhibition. Checkpoint Charlie also has a museum which showcases the various methods by which people fled from East Germany to West Germany during the war time.
If I had more time, I would have definitely extended my trip to Berlin from 2 days to 5, because the city has simply too much to see. And while I was afraid in the beginning that I would be subjected to a lot of history about the place, it was nice to experience a refreshing change, as Berlin has something to offer to everyone. Whatever be your taste, preferences, and interests, there is no way that Berlin will disappoint you.