Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let’s go on Vacation to Berlin in December Said No One Ever

Why Kelly and I chose Northern Germany in winter for a weekend getaway is beyond me.

The weekend called for a fierce combination of snow and wind. Daily, we put on multiple layers, boots, hats, gloves and made the best of it.

We walked toward Brandenburg Gate, the snow blowing sideways. We had every intention of suffering through a 3-hour outdoor guided walking tour, but this weather was out of control. We opted instead for the ever touristy hop on hop off sightseeing bus. The windows were snow and condensation covered, but it was good at taking us around the city (Berlin is a huge beast of a city) and keeping us dry and somewhat warm.

Here are some gems from the ride. I’m really surprised I didn’t put obnoxious watermarks on them to prevent photo snatchers from these masterpieces. You’re welcome. 

Brandenburg Gate
Wisse Kreuze (White Cross) Memorial
It represents those that died during the Cold War at the Berlin Wall

Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament 

The Victory Column
Commemorates the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War

Berlin is home to over 60 Christmas Markets. If you have spoken to me in the last 6 months, you know I have an unhealthy obsession with Christmas Markets. I love them, and we went to THREE! 

This one is pretty famous in Berlin. It was fun, but crowded. I also thought it was interesting how there were so many restaurants within the market. We had currywurst for dinner! Nom nom nom.

Berliner Weihnachtszeit
This was our favorite! It was a block from our apartment and had a very local feel to it. Plus Kelly and I were very successful in terms of finding gifts.

Nostalgic Market at the Opernpalais
So technically we just passed through this one on our way to dinner, but there’s only one thing that really matters about it. There was a jolly intricately dressed black man singing “Purple Rain” to a really large, enthusiastic crowd.

To see Berlin in two days is aggressive. Other noteworthy sites we were able to check out included:

The Topography of Terror is an indoor and outdoor museum, which is on the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS from 1933 to 1945. The museum documents the history of the site and explains the reign of terror the Nazi’s inflicted. Primarily pictures and text, it was really interesting and I learned a ton about Hitler and Nazi leadership.

Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the well-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. After the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction. There is also an open-air exhibit across from the building that outlines how the checkpoint was expanded, escape attempts, and its significance during the Cold War.

Berlin Cathedral is the largest church in the city and serves as a vital center for the Protestant church of Germany. It was heavily damaged during WWII and it wasn’t until 1975 that restoration began. I’m not sure what style it is, but I think it’s super sassy, so I took a ton of pictures. Plus, we could see the dome from our apartment.

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