I woke up this morning and pulled out my map. The only way I’m going to get through this city is if I have a plan. I decided to start my day at the East Side Gallery. This is a 25 mile section of the wall that was taken over by artist’s from all over the world making their own personal statement when the wall fell. It’s part serious art, part graffiti, part political statement. I spent an hour in the rain walking and looking at it. Many of the artists have repainted their sections because of idiots who have the disrespect to deface their works with their own oh so important messages, like “Mario was here.” Or “Andy hearts Lucy.” People are so stupid sometimes.
Next I hopped the U-Bahn to KaDeWe, the largest and most expensive department store in Berlin. The store opened in 1907 and did brisk business until 1943 when an American combat plane crashed into it. It re-opened in 1950 and has been just fine ever since… The main reason I came here was that my dad said it had an amazing gourmet food floor and restaurant on the top floor, PLUS he’d treat me to a lunch there (thanks dad!) so I thought I better check it out. The store itself is beautiful, but too rich for my blood. Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari. You know, those little known designer brands! The food floor was amazing though! My dad said he read that they have 1200 types of sausages, 1300 kinds of cheese and 400 kinds of bread. I’ll just have to take his word on that because I didn’t count! It was humongous though! I had lunch in the restaurant on the top floor called Le Buffet. It was pretty good, but nothing truly special. I had a half lobster tail, and it was tasty but kind of chewy. Check the food and bevi section for pics!
My next stop was Brandenburg Gate. This is one of Berlin’s most recognised landmarks. It was built in 1791 and has worn many different hats over its life span. It started out being a symbol of peace, it was Napoleons starting off point to march when the French occupied Germany, and its most well-known purpose was as a gateway between the East and the West. It’s hard to believe how different things were here just over 20 years ago. Being here is really making me brush up on my history of the place, because I was only 17 when the wall came down, and back then I was too busy doing important things like trying to save the princess in Super Mario Land so I didn’t really pay that much attention to major world events. There is a Kennedy Museum right near the gate as well (which I might go check out tomorrow) because it was here that President Kennedy said the famous words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Just around the corner from Brandenburg Gate is the Holocaust Monument called Field of Stelae. This is a fairly new monument and it caused some controversy when it was created because it cost a large sum of money to build. In my opinion, any amount of money spent memorializing what happened during the war is money well spent, and I think most people who visit the site would agree. It consists of 2711 concrete blocks and spans the length of two football fields. The blocks start out small around the edges and get bigger and taller as you make your way to the centre. The ground is flat going in one direction, but small rolling hills going the other way. It’s a bit claustrophobic and a bit unsettling walking within the labyrinth of concrete pillars, but we are lucky… we have a way out. The holocaust victims did not. If you are ever in Berlin, it really is a must see.