After an early morning run to a grocery store, and a stop at a cafe for a coffee and pastry,
Buds zipped us up a couple tickets to a four-hour walking tour of Berlin in English.
Leaving the youngest and eldest with food and money, we headed out to pre-explore this wonderful city for the family.
Sam was our guide, a Brit who has lived in Berlin for six years now.
Our group of 28 treked all over the city.
Sam gave a master class in explaining how Germany came to be divided and the evolution of the Berlin Wall. Above is his rough rendering of Germany with a not-to-scale Berlin.
Below shows how the country and Berlin were divided after World War II.
One of the first stops was the Memorial to the Victims of War and Tyranny.
The artist had a 17 y.o. son who died in W.W.1. Since he was not old enough to join the army, he convinced his parents to sign off on letting him join. The guilt and culpability she felt over his death consumed her.
This monument is a way to express that; and the sorrow for all victims of the horrors of war.
I stood to the side and cried at this one. The depth of grief it conveys…
Sam talked about the power of different types of weather to change the memorial due to the hole in the ceiling.
The mother weeps when it rains. She refuses to leave her son as the snow mounts around them. Or a celestial bolt of light illuminates her at the right time on a sunny day.
It was powerful.
Seeing the many new buildings, and the black markings and bullet and shrapnel holes on the buildings that are left is sobering.
Sam kept reminding us of a slogan for Berlin/Germany:
I’ve heard both now.
This city was 75% destroyed by Allied bombs, and yet here we stand, surrounded by a beautiful mix of new and old.
And surrounded by reminders of attrocities to ensure it can’t be dismissed or forgotten.
There doesn’t seem to be a sense of shame in an ugly way. There’s a strong sense of responsibility and honesty.
Would that the United States could manage this approach toward our history.
One of the world’s largest office buildings pictured above. Nazi architect, Hitler approved.
Berlin Wall marker in the ground.
The Brandenburg Gate above.
Saint Hedwig’s church above. He’s the Patron Saint of Orphans, hence Harry Potter’s owl’s name.
We saw Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall, as well.
Around noon we took a break for lunch and while we dined on currywurst, Buds and I shared a table with Pru and Tom; good folks from Vancouver who are traveling around the world for a year.
Their three children are older than ours so I was able to pepper them with questions on this dream life of ours that they are living.
We also talked of the current administration. Pru said that Trudeau’s star had been fading until he stood up to #45. Now national pride in him as their leader has boomed.
The Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was one of the last stops on our tour.
So much to ponder in this space. Learning that this land was once occupied by the Berlin Wall is profound, too.
After we zipped home to check on everyone, then a quick trip to the grocery store, we all headed out for dinner at Shiso Burger. It was fantastic.
We’ve been impressed and surprised by the dining out we’ve done here. It has a very hip vibe. Especially the salads we’ve eaten have been gorgeous.
This day was one of my favorite days of the whole trip so far. Being out with Buds, learning so much, seeing so much, feeling so much. Then to have a delightful dinner out with my tribe with lots of laughter and stories…
My gratitude overflows.