Berlin Day 1

This morning we stopped by the grocery store in our S-Bahn station for breakfast supplies, and then we ate breakfast on the train.

We started the day by seeing Hackesche Hofe Market and its many courtyards.  There are a few entrances off of some main streets from which one can enter the outer courtyards.  The inner courtyards are then interconnected with each other and one or two outer courtyards.  In the courtyards, there are shops and restaurants on street level, and housing above.

At 11am we showed up for a Fat Tire bike tour.  On this tour we got a great overview of Berlin, saw many of the main sights, and had lunch at a beer garden in the Tiergarden. Sophie, our tour guide, was knowledgeable and entertaining.  She did a great job of telling us about some deeper issues related with Berlin’s history without bringing down the group’s spirits. JT ensured that he got a high quality bike for the tour, and it even came with a squeak toy!

After the tour, we kept our bikes until 8pm for free (as advertised on their website).  We asked for biking recommendations from Sophie, and she sent us down a communist-era street with block housing.  After turning off this street, we saw some pretty neat looking warehouse/outdoor clubs.  If we had stayed in Berlin longer or if we were willing to stay up until 5am, we probably would have had some fun at some of these clubs.  We then biked over to the East Side Gallery, the part of the Berlin Wall that was turned into artwork by allowing famous artists to paint sections of it. We biked down it once, and then walked our bikes back.  Katie was surprised (and saddened) to see the amount of graffiti over some of these murals (even on many of the ones that were redone in 2009).  Luckily, this graffiti doesn’t really affect the work when viewed from afar. We also saw a section of the wall from the back side (the part by an interesting houseboat hostel!), and this section contained some really professionally done photographs of various separating walls from around the world.  Some of these were of some of the walls between Mexico and the USA.

We then biked to Kollnischer Park to see the ‘Berlin Bears’, two live bears given to Berlin by a foreign country in the 1980s. These bears have an enclosure pit in a local park.  However, as we went by the park around 7:30pm, they had already been locked inside their inside enclosure area for the night.

In total, our Fat Tire bike tour with Sophie covered 9.5 miles, while our biking after the tour covered 10 miles – so we biked 19.5 miles total today.

After returning our bikes, we went to a bar recommended by Rick Steves and had falafel soup, nachos, and a couple beers.

The Berlin TV Tower.  Fat Tire bike rentals was right underneath this tower.

The bear was adopted as the symbol of Berlin citizens.  Hence, there are statues of bears throughout the city.

Humboldt University is important historically – and was the site of a massive book burning during the Nazi’s rise to power – but we know it more intimately as the home to Berlin United (a Robocup SPL team).

Checkpoint Charlie, the American checkpoint between East and West Berlin when the Berlin Wall stood.

Throughout Berlin, these bricks denote where the Berlin Wall once stood.  If a building is erected over where the wall was, these bricks are laid on the ground floor of the building.

JT and Katie in front of one of the few remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.

Our Fat Tire bike tour stopped for lunch at Schleusen Krug, a beer garden in the Tiergarden.

 Katie in front of the Berlin Victory Column.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  It’s design purposely allows each individual to decide what the memorial means.

Katie and JT in front of the Reichstag building, which is the meeting place of the German parliament.

Katie and JT in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

 Communist era architecture on Karl-Marx-Allee.
 Communist era architecture on Karl-Marx-Allee.

Part of a mural on the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery.

 People relaxing in a park between the river and the East Side Gallery.

Some interesting artwork along the river in Berlin.

 The building in which the Berlin Bears are housed in Kollnischer Park.

Leave a Reply