Berlin, Germany.

by - 12:12:00 AM

During the Christmas break, I travelled to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest with Sheau Jin, Sheau Ling, Jacqueline and Lydia. Then Lydia left for Amsterdam and the other girls went back to UK. Alone, I travelled to Germany.

After more than 10 days of sight seeing, I wanted to take a break from history and buildings. That was very convenient as my hotel was situated a street away from Berlin's shopping district and the second largest department store in Europe, KaDeWe.  Kurfürstendamm was one of the longest shopping street I've seen. One stretch alone had multiple H&M, Zaras and MNGs. While shopping, I was wondering why there were no Chinese UNTIL I walked into KaDeWe where Chanel, Dior and many other luxury brands were situated at.

After a day of extremely tiring shopping , I decided to head to KaDeWe's famous food section. It is said that the floor has 2 football fields of food. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. I was extremely hungry so I sat down on the only seat I can find, and pointed at the nearest thing grilling on the grill. Little did I know I ordered a 50Euro lobster all to myself.

It was so delicious but it only struck me how expensive it was after I finished my meal. However, in my defence, I didn't have lunch so that was two meals in one. Secondly, it was really hard to get a seat and I lost my way on the same floor for like 4 times. Plus, come on, amazing experience in an extremely atas food court ? After getting over the guilt, Sheau Jin and Sheau Ling had to bring it all back by telling me a whole lobster meal in UK costs only 20 Pounds. Fine. (Read more on my Dayre)

The next day I decided to go back to sight seeing. Was just about to go on a free walking tour when my sister insist that I must visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp so on the very last minute, I switched my tours and oh it was worth it.

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was truly and eerie place. Unlike Auschwitz in Krakow, it served as labour camp, where the victims were forced to work until they eventually die.

The infamous words on the gates of the camp. 
"Work makes you free" where freedom comes in the form of death.

This monument was a memorial for the victims who were political enemies. According to the guide, this was placed when the Communist took over the camp and it neglected the other victims like the homosexuals and the jews. Also one horrifying fact I learnt was that after the Nazis were defeated, the Communist took over this concentration camp and used it with the same purpose as a revenge towards their enemies.

The most depressing part of the camp in my opinion. This was known as Station Z, the place where people were executed. The whole building had a gas chamber on the left, a make shift medical check up room in the middle, where unsuspecting victims were shot dead in the head through a hole in the wall one by one, and lastly an oven on the right to burn all the bodies.

Ironically, walk out of the concentration camp compound and you see a beautiful and peaceful neighbourhood where you can picture children cycling and playing badminton on the streets. 

The tour lasted for 5 hours and along the way I met an Indian man who was working in Sydney. Usually I am extremely paranoid about being killed or kidnapped but this time, when he suggested we go see the other side of the Berlin Wall together, which was in a less crowded area of Berlin, I agreed.

The other side of the Berlin Wall, East Side Galery.
Funny how I was chatting with him for whole 5 hours during the tour and I didn't know his name until late that evening. Just realized now how dangerous that could be :O

The whole stretch of the Berlin Wall was filled with graffitis which looked beautiful. 

More artwork.

Whole parade of super cute painted cars too.

By this time, I was pretty sick of my new Indian friend already. I hadn't sat down or had anything to eat since 10am and I was pretty tired. Not forgetting that the Indian man kept on talking about his problems with his Parisian girlfriend and asking me for relationship advice. Most frustrating thing was that he insisted I voice my opinion on his problems, just so he can throw it away because he already had his mind set on what he wanted to do with his problem. What a waste of saliva. I knew love made people blind, but wow, I didn't know it made people so blunt.

I'm already falling asleep but he suggested we go up to the tallest building in Berlin to have a 360 view of the city. I thought, why not, I'm already in Berlin.

I don't know if it was because I was annoyed and tired, but the view seemed average to me. Only thing that caught my attention was how little cars there was on a weekend night.

The next day I was scheduled to catch a train ride back to Poland in the afternoon. Decided to explore the city in the morning and catch half of the free walking tour. 

Reichstag building. 
Interesting fact about this government building was that the dome is open to public. The floors beneath are transparent, thus allowing the public to see the government at work, indicating the transparency of the German government. If only we had this in Malaysia.

I did pay attention to the traffic on the streets and I realized that Berlin, despite its population has very little cars on the streets. Another astonishing realization was also that crossing the road was easier than crossing the bicycle lane because there were so many cyclists in the city. 

Took a walk through the Tiergardens. Exploring this park alone would take a whole day. Spent an hour walking and I couldn't get to the centre of the park. 

Memorials in the park.

I am rather confused on where the city centre of Berlin is.

There was the touristy center :
Brandenburger Tor, gate that separated East and West Berlin.

Then there was the business center

Potsdamer Platz
So it was rather confusing for me on where I want to start at.

Which was why the free walking tour by The Sandemans  was the perfect guide ! Highly recommend this to everyone who will be visiting cities across Europe. Informative and entertaining at the same time. There were facts that I would never have known about Berlin if not for the guide.

For example,

Hotel Adlon, the most expensive hotel in Berlin situated right in front of the Bradenburger Tor was where the royalties stayed at. Royal suite costs 20,000Euro/night. Interesting fact : this was the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled a baby out the window.

Next we headed to the murdered Jewish memorial

Didn't had the time to visit the underground museum but this memorial was rather interesting. The person who designed this place didn't give an explanation to his design. It was meant to mean whatever the visitor perceives. On the surface it simply looks like uneven blocks but as you walk down to the middle,

Here is my perception on this memorial.
From the outside, it really looked average, but as you walk deeper and find yourself in the middle, you see that it is entirely different from when you looked at it from across the street. Like how nobody would suspect there is a concentration camp in the middle of a peaceful neighbourhood, nobody would suspect average blocks would tower up to 3 times their height before they walk into the memorial. For me, as an outsider looking from the outside, it is hard for me to fully grasp the horror of that time in history as compared to the Jews and their families who were in the middle of it.

Not sure if that makes sense to you.
The Germans placed this memorial right next to Brandenburger Tor, where visitors from all over the world, and the Germans themselves would see it everyday, as a reminder to never repeat the mistakes of their past. They are so ready to apologize and make up for what they have done and that is something to be respected.

Moving on

Sorry for the blur picture.
Our guide brought us to a middle of an empty carpark and announced that we were standing directly on top of Adolf Hitler's bunker. A completely deserted place with not even a signboard that says this is the place he lived and died.

Then he showed us what used to be a Nazi building.
I definitely couldn't have known any of these things if I didn't join the tour. I honestly didn't even know what the Berlin Wall was when I first arrived.

The other part of the Berlin wall that was entirely different from the one I saw the previous night. The Berlin Wall used to separate East Germany and West Germany. East Germany being Communist and West, Capitalist. Families were separated and many were sacrificed for wanting to cross to the other side. It was another tragic part of the history of Berlin.

The 3 short days in Germany really opened my eyes to many important historic events that I never got to learn in high school. I missed two metro trains because I was too busy reading the historical information of Berlin plastered on the walls of the underground metro station. I've never felt so interested in History. Despite being such a short stay, I got to know so much more about World War II and the Holocaust. Like an angmoh man I met said, and I quote

"There is nothing like seeing it for yourself"

Berlin, I will definitely be back.

UK in 2 days. So excited I feel like every bone in me is tingling. If you think staying in Sitiawan is boring, you need to check out Warsaw. I've just been watching HIMYM in my pajamas all day, feasting on instant noodles. I need something to do with my life !!!

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