Early start today to compensate for the lack of daylight hours, which may be the worst thing about a winter break. Or the weather – but more on that later.
Heading west again, I started at the Kaiser Bill memorial church, which is one of the many bombed out monuments that remain the city – cue more of the guilt experienced at Charlotteburg Palace yesterday.
From there, it was a stroll along the west-east axis that cuts through the park at Tiergarten to the Victory Column, which takes pride of place in the middle of a roundabout, as all good monuments should. Going to the top seemed a good idea at the time, until the wind got up again – I’ve never been more thankful for inelegant but effective safety fencing.
I passed the rather handsome Bellevue Palace en route to the Reichstag and its hour-long queue to get a ticket for the dome… for the evening.
That knackered my schedule a bit, but fortunately, the big hitters in central Berlin are about as compact as they are in London – the Brandenburg Gate is right next to it (although it’s smaller than I imaged) – so I figured I’d be able to make up lost time. And then it started snowing.
Not a delicate little flurry, no – a full-on cut-up-your-tauntaun-in-order-to-survive blizzard. In lieu of a fictional beast from a galaxy far, far away, I opted for a Starbucks, where I ordered in German, only for the server to be British, which was a bit annoying.
Still, perspective was regained as I visited the towering Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, wandered the grounds of the former SS HQ and schlepped around the vast Jewish Museum.
Checkpoint Charlie and its museum followed, and while it wasn’t a laugh riot, some of the individual tales of escape brought a smile to the ol’ face. My favourite was probably the couple who were separated by the wall, so he got a doppelganger of a girlfriend, went to the east with her, nicked his girlfriend’s papers and returned to the west with his missus. The girlfriend eventually got out, so it worked out in the end.
After a food pitstop, which included that most German of dishes – sausages, sauerkraut and mash – it back up the road and through the Brandenburg Gate again to reach the Reichstag for a wander up its glass dome. You get an earpiece that gives an audio commentary as you ascend, but you should definitely try to get up during the day, otherwise you can’t see half the stuff mentioned.
I went up at night, as it’s back to Blighty tomorrow and I want to fit in some more eastern stuff before I fly out.