Berlin Day 2

This morning we walked from our hotel to two Amazing Race sights that were nearby – the Broken Chain statue and Joachimaster Platz (a “pitstop” in the most recently aired season). We then bought breakfast at the grocery store – as has become our tradition – in our S-bahn station (pretzels, yogurt and milk), got our luggage and checked out of our hotel. We headed north to sign up for an 11am bunker tour with the Berlin Underground Association.

However, when we arrived at the museum just after 11am (we got lost multiple times in the very-complicated S/U-bahn station trying to find the right exit towards the ticket center), they were sold out for the 11am Tour I. Hence, we opted to buy tickets for the 1pm tour III (adults 10, students 8) Since we had almost two hours before our tour, we decided to go down to the Topography of Terror exhibit. It was not as close as we hoped. Upon arriving, we found that we would need to leave in 30 minutes and we could only scratch the surface of the massive exhibit – on the Nazi’s rise to power and various intelligence and police forces that they used to gain absolute political and social power in Germany.

We went back for the bunker tour at 1pm. It was an interesting tour of two cold war bunkers, one converted from a WWII bunker (a shallow bunker which could hold people for only two days) and the other built especially for the cold war. When a U-bahn (underground metro) stop was being built, the designers made it easily convertible into a bunker. This one was much nicer, and could hold people for 14 days). It was pretty cool to see how a U-bahn stop could be converted to a 3300-person shelter in under one day. The quarters were tight and the food meager, but at least you would be safe for 14 days… Based on issues in other (WWII) bunkers, they designed this one with certain interesting features: no sharp objects (even the bathroom mirrors were metal) so that no one could hurt themselves, no doors on the bathroom stalls (potentially the only private place in the bunker), huge metal doors that closed to the outside once the bunker was filled and the microphone to the entrance guard was shut off (so he didn’t hear the screams). Our guide was pretty convinced he would not want to live there though… His plan would be to go to a convenience store, buy a bottle of champagne and head for the expected ground zero.

After the bunker tour, we had a quick lunch at a cafe near the Berlin Underground Association office.  Katie had a Turkish pizza and JT tried currywurst (much advertised, but just a cut-up bratwurst with ketchup and curry on top). Then we took the S-bahn back to the Topography of Terror exhibit, where we stayed as long as we could (until 6:15pm). The Topography of Terror exhibit presented how the Nazis rose to power, how they kept power, and how they eventually fell.  It was a good exhibit that made us both thoughtful and pensive.

We left the Topography of Terror exhibit to go to Salon zur wilden Renate, which was the place where racers had to go through a labyrinth on the most recent season of the Amazing Race.  We were pretty excited about going through the labyrinth ourselves, so we were very disappointed when we made our way all the way over just to find out when we arrived that the labyrinth was closed for 3 weeks. The bar was pretty neat though, as it was housed in an older, kind of run-down apartment building. We had a couple of drinks, and the headed to the grocery store to get some dinner to take on our night train.

We took the S-bahn to pick up our luggage from left luggage, and then jumped over to a regional train one stop away from the main station (since the S-bahn trains were stopped due to an accident a few stops down the track) to catch our 9pm night train (City Night Line #1247, 8:59 pm-7:05 am, car 13, berths 65 and 66) to Munich.

 JT and Katie in front of the Broken Chain statue in Berlin.

Katie laying on one of the underground shelter bunks in the Pankstrasse station shelter.

One of the sleeping rooms in the Pankstrasse station shelter.

Here you can see one of the exterior exits to the Pankstrasse station shelter.  Supposedly, this door should still be able to be opened even if the surrounding buildings collapsed.

The Pankstrasse U-bahn station, which could have been converted to a nuclear shelter in about 24 hours if needed.

Part of the outdoor section of the Topography of Terror exhibit in Berlin.  The outdoor section seemed to mainly be a summary of the indoor section.

 The indoor section of the Topography of Terror exhibit is in the background.  The foreground is just a gravel area, as the land where the Topography of Terror exhibit sits now was once the site of the Gestapo and SS.

Katie outside of  Salon zur wilden Renate.

Katie on the S-bahn, as we traveled from Salon zur wilden Renate to catch our City NightLine train.  Note the bread, cheese, and meat in Katie’s hand – this is our dinner for the train ride.

JT settling in on his top bunk on the City NightLine.  The top bunks were really tight, and didn’t allow for sitting up fully.  If you get stuck on the top bunk, there is no real benefit of taking a 4-person compartment instead of a 6-person (except for quietness).

Our City NightLine train, once we reached Munich.

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