24 Juni 2014

Berlin and Its Long History

I had a chance to go for a day trip to Berlin last weekend, which I kind of regretted it. I am telling you, no one could explore the whole Berlin in one day, the city just offers too many different things, and they are all amazing.

So, I booked the train ticket to Berlin and I was lucky to get a promo ticket for one way (with ICE, the German high speed train!), and get a reduced price ticket for coming back (thanks to BahnCard!).

I woke up really early that day, and it was not good since I went to bed really late the night before to watch Korean drama. I know, it is a bad habit, but I just cannot stop doing it when I found VPN working and I could use my Dramafever account, haha. The weather on that day was not so great, either. It was drizzling, and really cold for summer weather.

Nevertheless, when I arrived, I could tell right away that Berlin is a 'heavy' city, compared to other German cities. It bears so much history, hope, and dream. Was it because Germany World Cup match was on the same day? Haha.

My first stop was Museum Island (or, in German, Museuminsel). It's basically an island with 5 different museums on it. Isn't it a genius idea, so a tourist doesn't need to walk too far to go to all the 'essential' museums?

The first one, is Pergamon Museum. I never saw people waiting to get into a museum for 1-2 hours before, but it does happen in this museum. Pergamon Museum, is one of the most magnificent museum I've ever visited. They basically reconstructed buildings from history in the museum, so people could actually feel how it was to be in that era. They were mostly about Greek, Babylon, and Egyptian history.

I am sorry, my knowledge in history is really limited (I know close to nothing about world history), so I cannot provide you the details about some stuff.





If you go one floor up, there's also an Islamic Art Museum. It was amazing to actually see Islamic art and how it evolved.

You cannot see the details, but there's a calligraphy around the shape.

My next stop was Neues Museum. Pergamon Museum was really amazing, that when I entered Neues I was like 'meh'. However, they had Nefertiti statue (the real one!) and it was amusing to see half of the total guards standing in that room, trying to prevent people from taking pictures. In addition, they also had some creepy Egyptian mummy sarcophagus (which, of course, is real), and other mummy-related things.


Oh, hi, there...
My third stop was Bode Museum, and there were only few people around, which means, this museum is not that popular. Although I went to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston pretty regularly (because it's free with my student ID), I still don't know much about fine arts, which is the main thing in this museum. Even though I was just walking around understanding nothing (I need to pay more for the audio guide, unlike in Pergamon), I still enjoyed my visit there. The building, which is basically a castle, was super beautiful.

I was walking on red carpet!
After that, I took the S-bahn and went to Berlin Wall Memorial. Remember that Germany was divided into West Germany and East Germany during Cold War, based on their politics ideology (socialist vs. capitalism)? Yes, you still could see some parts of the wall left in this memorial park.



The victims.
I was really dumbfounded to read the history and walk on this park. Some people who tried to flee to West Berlin was shot dead by the police. Some parts of the wall were built on cemetery ground, and some of the corpses weren't moved. Crazy, right?

After that, I went to Brandenburg Tor, and Reichstag/ Bundestag. It was really crowded because it's one of main centers to watch world cup match. I also saw MANY Indonesians. It was really strange to pass by people who talk in my native language, and it was in Berlin, not in Indonesia!

Brandenburg Tor: Berlin's Icon.
Hyundai sponsored the giant screen for the soccer match that night.
Reichstag. Can you see the dome on top of it? I was going to go there, but the tours were fully booked from last week.
The last, but not the least, I visited Holocaust Memorial. I got goosebumps, when I imagined what happened to the Jews when Hitler tried to wipe them out from the earth.

Each block represents one Jew who was killed/ went missing.
In general, it was a quite interesting piece of art. The height varies, and it felt like I was in a big maze once I was inside.
I didn't take a picture inside the memorial (the museum? Not quite.) itself. I was so focused to hear, read the stories. A quote on the wall was really intriguing to me, but I don't remember who said it. It was more or less like, "Why do we need to remember this? Because it happened once, and there is no reason that it won't happen again." A really deep quote, which reminds me the importance of understanding history (not just 'knowing' it on the surface).

After a high dosage of history and museum, I was strolling around the city and observed how Berliners looked like. Too bad, as far as I could tell, there were more tourists than the residents themselves.

When I hopped on the train to go back, I promised myself to go back to this city at some point, and learned more about its deep history. The weather just got better once I left Berlin :(

View from the train.
Until next time, Berlin Hauptbahnhof!

The most modern train station I've ever seen so far in Germany.

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