We gathered at 8:15am at the hotel, took a tram and S-Bahn to Berlin's main railway station and then walked to the Reichstag Building. Met our Berlin local guide, Jess (26), there. Originally from Los Angeles, Jess is studying history in Berlin, and he is Jewish, so he was not only knowledgeable but also passionate in telling us things about the many sites we saw in Berlin.
1. Berlin's main railway station.
2. Berlin's main railway station.
3. The Reichstag Building, home to German's parliament.
4. Our Berlin local guide Jess.
5. Memorial to the Murdered Members of the Reichstag.
6. The Reichstag Building.
7. Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism.
8. Brandenburg Gate.
9. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
10. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
11. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
12. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
13. Hitler's bunker was below this parking lot.
14. Hitler's bunker was below this parking lot.
15. Information board at the bunker site.
16. A classic example of muscular Nazi architecture, the former Reich Air Ministry survived war-time bombing and following Germany's defeat served first as a center for the Soviet military, then later as headquarters to the GDR Council of Ministers. Today the building houses the German Finance Ministry.
17. In 1952 an enormous mural was added to the building: depicts joyous East Germans celebrating life in the GDR.
18. A preserved section of the Berlin Wall next to the Topography of Terror, an outdoor and indoor history museum located on the site of buildings where the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS used to be.
During the tour, we didn't have time to go inside the Topography of Terror. Later on my free time, I came here twice but didn't get to visit the indoor museum much neither due to early closing. I wish the walking tour had given us 30 - 45 minutes break here so we could go in and take a look.
19. Another look of the Berlin Wall from the other side. Next to the wall is the outdoor display of the museum. The building on the right is the Topography of Terror.
20. Next to the preserved section of the Berlin Wall is the Trabi World, where you can rent the Trabi (the official car of the GDR) and drive around Berlin.
21. After Checkpoint Charlie, we went to Gendarmenmarkt which hosts one of Berlin's most popular Christmas markets during the four weeks of Advent.
22. And then Humboldt University.
The university has been home to many of Germany's greatest thinkers of the past two centuries, among them physicists Albert Einstein, and the founders of Marxist theory Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It was here on May 10 1933, 20,000 books by "degenerates" and opponents of the regime were taken from the university's library and burned in the square in front of the building.
23. Humboldt University main building.
24. Humboldt University main building.
25. Berlin Cathedral.
After walking through Museum Island we finally sat down to a group lunch around 1:30pm at a Turkish restaurant. (Did you know Germany has the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey?) Someone in our group's step counter said she had walked 10,800 steps since this morning!
26. The Turkish restaurant where we had a group lunch.
27. I was so starving that I didn't take any picture of the delicious appetizers, but the family-style main dish was amazing too. It had grilled chicken, beef and lamb (both ground lamb and lamb chop).
28. And we got Baklava for dessert.
After lunch I went back to the hotel to rest a little before attending an optional group event at the hotel at 6pm. It was a talk given by Richard Eaton, director of Berlin International School about life in Berlin. It was interesting. After the hour long talk and Q&A, there was another optional group event which was to go to a neighborhood beer garden, but since I had a reservation for the Reichstag Dome at 9:45pm. I didn't attend that one. I went back to the Brandenburg Gate, and then the Reichstag Building where a documentary about the history of German parliamentarism was shown outdoor every night from July 3 to Oct 3.
29. The Brandenburg Gate.
30. A film and light show about the history of German parliamentarism next to the Reichstag Building.
31. A film and light show about the history of German parliamentarism next to the Reichstag Building.
32. A film and light show about the history of German parliamentarism next to the Reichstag Building.
After the film, it was still early for my Reichstag Dome visit at 9:45pm, but they didn't seem to care. They checked my paperwork and let me in.
33. The Reichstag Building.
34. The Reichstag Dome visit.
35. The Reichstag Dome visit.
36. The Reichstag Dome visit. The oculus open to the sky.
37. The Reichstag Dome visit.
38. The Reichstag Dome visit.
39. The Reichstag Dome visit.
40. The Reichstag Dome visit.
By the time I got back to hotel, it was 10:45pm, a long day I had.
(To be continued)