Berlin..A place where East and West meet
While living overseas, the first major city we traveled to was Berlin, Germany. We were very excited to visit a city with a vast history and culture. The hotel we decided to stay in was The Hotel Berlin Berlin near Brandenburg Gate and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. After check-in we started our adventure into what has only been read in history books. The first point of interest was the Brandenburg Gate almost literally behind the American Consulate. Of course, it was packed and full of other tourists and locals enjoying the fresh air. This was in your face history because I remember when there were an East and West Germany. We walked the square and took many pictures from both sides of the gate to get a better understanding of how the city looked 30 years ago. The Memorial for the murdered Jews was a 5-minute walk from the gate. This was our first encounter with any type of monument or event that referenced the Holocaust. It looked like a sea of grey rectangle blocks of different heights near the street. I almost felt like I could not hear anything as if the sound been sucked out of the air. I know our kids did not understand the significance of this place, but my wife and I were quite emotional and humbled. After leaving the memorial, we drove down the street to museum island to tour all the museums Berlin had to offer or at least most of them. The four buildings we visited was Pergamon museum which was for antiquities and ancient collections, Altes museum which displays Greek and Roman artifacts, Neues museum which had ancient art and archaeology, and lastly the Bode museum which had sculptures and Byzantine art collections. The most intriguing museum for me was the Pergamon museum because I've rarely seen whole structures intact in a building. The highlights included Egyptian artifacts that everyone was excited to experience. There were some amazing sarcophagi with various architectural engravings that were so well done and well preserved. It was a great educational experience for the entire family. The exhibit also featured both English and Deutsch languages so there were no language barriers. The Topographie Des Terrors Exhibition was another free exhibit we took advantage of visiting. There are just remnants but provide an historic overview of the grounds where significant institutions such as the National Socialist persecution and terror, the Secret State Police, the Reich SS Leadership and the Reich Security Main Office were located from 1933 to 1945. The free exhibit includes a tour of the Berlin Wall with access from the historic sidewalk Prinz-Albrecht-Straße. The tour takes about 3 hours to complete the outside and inside portion. Overall, Berlin is a wonderful city filled with great history even though Germany as a whole has a bad stigma at times.