A Trip to Berlin, Part One: History.

Ampelmännchen

Last week I went to Berlin for a few days!

Although Hamburg is really close to our capital (it’s only a 3-hour bus ride away), I don’t go there very often… The last time I visited was for New Years Eve 2013/2014, so that’s a little while ago. But as my boyfriend visited me in Hamburg for the first time last week, we decided to hop on the bus and explore Berlin, as well. So if you’re up for a quick recap of the historical sites we visited, the coffee we drank, and the stationery heaven I found, stay tuned!

Our visit was a great mix of sightseeing and coffee shop hopping and although the weather did its best to keep us inside, no snow, rain, and hail could keep us from having a great time.

Of course, history is omnipresent in Germany’s capital, whether it’s related to the Second World War or the period of the Cold War, there are many historical sites and monuments that commemorate both Berlin’s and Germany’s history. Even though this is a very dark chapter in our history, I was often positively surprised about how well the events and actions of the past were represented and dealt with. I had visited these sites before, but this time, I had a closer look at how the history is expressed.

When I’m abroad, one of the questions I get asked most often is how they teach us about history in school. The answer? Same as in every other country. As a person of German nationality it can be complicated to show something like national pride or patriotism, however, I strongly believe and hope that this will change in the future. When I was walking through Berlin and retracing the Wall that divided West and East, visited the dome of the Reichstag, or saw the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, I appreciated the awareness that I felt when visiting these places. They clearly show how Germany has changed over the decades and how it has become a nation characterized by transparency and friendliness and has grown to become a responsible and welcoming country. One of the most captivating material I saw in an exhibition was a video of November 9, 1989 when the Wall came down surprisingly and friends and families who were torn apart for decades could finally see and embrace each other again. The genuine and overwhelming feelings of the people showed that no political system and no physical boundaries can ever destroy the strong ties of family and friendship between people.

I ended up taking not too many photos as I had seen all of these places before and rather wanted to enjoy the atmosphere and concentrate on understanding and appreciating the sites we visited. Although I absolutely love taking photos of places I go and things I see, I somehow find it distracting at times, as I feel like seeing the places I visit through the lens of my camera. I guess one has to find a good balance between capturing what you see and actually experiencing the place… what do you guys think? Do you like taking pictures or do you rather enjoy the places around you without wanting to capture everything? Let me know, I’m curious! Oh, and come back for part two of my Berlin recap, where I’ll take you on a coffee shop tour of the capital!

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10 thoughts on “A Trip to Berlin, Part One: History.

  1. What a coincidence! I’ve just watched “Bridge of Spies” and was wondering about whether that was an accurate picture of the Cold War period in Berlin. Have you seen the movie?
    And about photos. Unfortunately taking photos transformed into a total distraction for me nowadays and sometimes I can’t even make myself take photos in trips even if I want to – it burdens me somehow. I used to take lots of pictures and now I usually even forget that there’s a camera I’m carrying. The result – I have no proves I actually have a life 🙂 so yes, that’s sad! But I hope that’s just a period in my life and it will pass.)

    1. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but maybe I should! Then I could tell you whether it’s accurate haha 🙂 I usually take photos with my phone, I don’t carry a camera with me.. My phone is so small that I can just carry it in my pocket so I can take it out and snap photos whenever I want, but sometimes I just decide not to.. I want to actually see the places I visit, and not experience them through the screen of my phone.. I guess one has to actively decide when to take photos, not just snap away mindlessly 🙂 and yes, you have the proofs, all the memories and stories you can tell :)!

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