Our time in Berilin started with the traditional tourist hotspots and ended with graffiti and squatters. After taking in the enormity of the PLUS Berlin, a converted school house that can now house some 750 visitors to the city, we ventured out for €3 kebabs and cheap beer. Berlin has amazing street food with Turkish being a local favourite. We were also quite partial to the homemade burgers from Burgermeister, a joint run out of what used to be a public toilet underneath the subway line in Friedrichshain. Still with one of the Australians from Vodkatrain in tow, we walked from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag and visited the Holocaust Memorial in the centre city. After the Hermitage in St Petersburg we decided to give traditional museums a break for the time being and set out for The Story of Berlin instead. This is a multimedia exhibit where you can walk through the history of the city from the Prussian Empire to Hitler's Nazi Germany and modern day Berlin. It was a much easier and more enjoyable way of getting to grips with the most important events and we finished with a tour of a Cold War Bunker which could have protected around 3000 citizens for 14 days following a nuclear event. Unfortunately the science behind this 14 day stand down period is completely wrong and most likely everyone who made it to the bunker would have died down there. The guide seemed to particularly enjoy describing all the ways in which disease would have spread, stampedes would have injured those getting in and how they could lock down half the bunker if things got out of hand and let 50% of the inhabitants die of starvation. Gripping stuff. That night the hostel provided a pub crawl which took us to some of Berlin's less touristy bars, one of which hosts continuous games of around the world table tennis in the middle of the pub. We were somewhat worse for wear the following day but met plenty of other travellers - mostly Australian of course, and had a great night. We dragged ourselves out of bed the next morning for the alternative walking tour of the street art and squatting communities in the area. We saw some amazing graffiti and incredible wall murals while learning about the different artists. There was also an informative lesson on the rights of squatters and how some communities had come to live in abandoned buildings. The East Side Gallery, the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall was also quite cool with individual artists being invited to contribute to different sections and school kids scribbling their names all over it. We made it back to the hostel exhausted after walking for more than three hours and enjoyed schnitzel and hot chips for dinner. Six hour train to Amsterdam in the morning.
Rachael and Jeremy