Berlin

Directly after my weekend on Sylt, I travelled to Berlin for four days with my classmates on a school excursion. The main purpose was to experience Germany’s capital city and its many features of national significance, which many of my friends had never seen before, which was perfect as I hadn’t either!

We left early on Sunday morning and drove for 5 hours by bus until we reached the German capital. After another hour in the hotel organising ourselves, it was time for our very full program to begin.

First stop: the German Bundestag or House of Parliament. This is a grand old building located in the centre of the city which has also been restored and modernised since the conclusion of the Second World War. The most recent of additions is a large glass dome on the roof of the building, which provides a fantastic view over the whole city. The city itself is huge and extends as far as the eye can see. It’s very spread out and has a mostly flat skyline, with no visible skyscrapers or extremely tall buildings. An exception, however, is the television tower located on Alexander Platz.

By the time our tour of the Bundestag was over, it was golden hour and we were given the rest of the evening as free time. I wandered with a pair of friends to the Berlin Cathedral and sat on the grass in amongst a magical sunset. We had very warm summer weather for the duration of our stay. The fountain, nestled between the grass in front of the Cathedral, was perfect for dipping our feet in and taking a moment to cool off.

The next morning everyone participated in a city scavenger hunt. We were given a list of locations to find and photograph while also trying to memorise a poem and swap a tea bag for something more valuable. All my group could exchange the teabag for was a toothpick. The first team back to the Humboldt University won.

After successfully competing the hunt we then had another few hours to spare before meeting again in the afternoon. I went with a group to Alexander Platz where we did a spot of shopping. The afternoon program consisted of a tour of the Berlin underground which was used as a network of air raid shelters that provided protection during bombing raids throughout the Second World War.

We were given lots of free time the next day and I took the opportunity to visit some of the more well known historical sights in Berlin. We found ourselves in Potzdamer Platz, which the Berlin Wall had previously ran right through the middle of, separating East and West Berlin.

The Holocaust memorial to all European Jews murdered throughout the Second World War was a very solemn place for remembering the horrific acts which occurred. The memorial lies in the centre of Berlin, directly next to the Bradenburger Gate.

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During the evening Germany played in the soccer World Cup semi final against Brazil. Everyone showed their support for Germany and we visited the cinema to watch the game on the big screen. Imagine the celebrations in Berlin after Germany had won!

The East Side Gallery is now all that is left of the Berlin Wall and serves as an outdoor contemporary art gallery. Artists have used the wall as a canvas for painting depictions of the various aspects of freedom, unity and the journey people took to either escape or fight for freedom. Just as we began viewing the 2 km concrete stretch it started pouring down with rain and we were saturated within minutes. Unfortunately I only saw a glimpse of the Wall, but luckily we were able to return the very next day while the sun was still shining.

Travelling to Berlin with my classmates was one of the best possible ways I could have seen the city, and I’m thankful for the people I got to experience it with who showed me all that Berlin has to offer.

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