Berliner Donuts and irony

I tried really hard to locate some Berliner Donuts. Failure. I was more successful with the rest of my visit.

We arrived in Berlin quite late in the afternoon and I had finally succumbed to the bus disease (in my case tonsillitis). So I spent the hour or so before dinner napping with wet socks (in lieu of wet flannel) on my forehead. Very pioneering. Before my nap we all visited the East Gallery – the arty decorated portion of the Berlin Wall.

Our first meal was at the hostel restaurant, crumbed veal and chips. Apparently it was quite tasty. I chose this moment to take my antibiotics. Good decision.

Our full day in Berlin started with a Third Reich walking tour. The tour was led by a young gentleman who’s family had been split by the Berlin Wall, his mum had been a tour guide in Eastern Berlin. Apparently in the east the wall was known as ‘The People’s Anti-Facist Protection Barrier’ or something to that effect. We started off at the Reichstag and headed towards the Brandenburg Gate. When Napoleon invaded Berlin he was quite taken by the sculptor on the top, so he took her back to Paris. You can imagine the Germans were not amused, as soon as he was dead they took her back. Changed her name to Victory, put a French eagle in her hand and changed the name of the road through the gate to Paris. So now they have Victory over Paris and ironically Victory stares directly at the French Embassy.

Our next stop was a very interesting Memorial to the Murdered Jews. It takes up about a block and is filled with rectangular grey stone blocks. Each of the blocks stand at a different height but they all look the same. You’re invited to walk between the blocks where you find the ground actually drops away. You end up feeling quite disorientated and alone, you never quite know when someone is going to appear round a corner. The sculptor had said that it isn’t meant to mean anything in particular, it is up to you to decide what it means. Ironically the company who makes the anti-graffitti paint also make the gas Zyklon B.

Our next stop was Hitler’s Bunker which is a carpark. Not much to see there so off we wandered to the last Nazi building left standing, ironically this is now filled with the dreaded government finance department. There seems to be a lot of irony in Berlin. The building has a large mural on it from the communist days about how happy everyone on East Germany was, there is a contrasting photo on the ground in front of it now. More irony.  At the end of the building another chunk of the Berlin Wall reminds with a museum called the Topology of Terror. After the walking tour we spent an hour or so exploring the place. Our tour ended at Checkpoint Charlie – a rather over Americanised checkpoint from the Berlin Wall.  It was the third checkpoint in the wall and the only that allowed regular citizens to move between east and west.

To ensure we fulfilled our museum quota for the day we also visited the German History Museum on Museum Island.

I found the whole concept of the wall fascinating. I enjoyed working out which side of the old wall I was on by checking out the safe to cross signals at the traffic lights. East Berlin had some cute cartoon characters called Ampoule Men.

I think we’ll have to go back to Berlin as there is so much history to explore and Berliner Donuts to locate.

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