We arrived in Berlin on Wednesday and planned to take a walking tour on Thursday. By the time we got the kids up Thursday morning and tried to get them motivated, we realized that I had some calls that I needed to be on earlier than expected, so we decided to push our walking tour to Friday. It’s a good thing that these walking tours are so flexible, you basically show up when you want and if you can’t make it, no big deal. So, Thursday we had a relaxing day with Drew doing, you guessed it, more geometry and Noah doing some reading. Ilise and I took a long walk ourselves through Tiergarten Park and Brandenburg Gate. We were able to see the Reichstag Building, which we will be touring on Tuesday evening.
Friday morning came and I decided to walk to the area that we were to start our walking tour. That took about 90 minutes and I took a U-Bahn train back to our apartment so I knew where we had to go as a family. In looking at the metro map it seemed like I had a couple of different options to get from Alexanderplatz to Hansaplatz. I took the one with only one change but it seemed like I went out of my way. So, looking at the map again it seemed like there was an easier way. So, I got back to the apartment, took a quick shower and we headed to our walking tour. The only problem is that the train path that seemed easier didn’t work as I had thought. We ended up talking with Berliner who spoke English and he told us it would be better to take to S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz, which is what we did. The S-Bahn was actually better because we got to see the city a little bit, rather than the U-Bahn, which is totally underground (hence the “U”).
We arrived at the beginning of the tour and met Ben, who was to be our tour guide for the next 3 1/2 hours. We walked all around Berlin for the next few hours seeing sights mostly from the East Berlin side of the city. We started right near Alexanderplatz, which makes sense since that is where we took the train to. From there we headed toward Museum Island and then through the city to Check Point Charlie. We saw lots of individual sites, including Humboldt University where the huge book burnings took place back in the time of Hitler. We crossed the Spree River a few times and Ben told us about how people would try to flee East Germany by swimming across the Spree. Some survived, but many died. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live right on the border of freedom and not have it.
We ended the tour at Brandenburg Gate as we passed Hitler’s Bunker, where he killed himself in the end, the Jewish Memorial and the gate itself. We met some really nice people on the tour and then decided to walk home from the tour. We were about 1.5 miles from home, so all in all I believe we walked about 6 miles or so from the time we started the tour. Add to that the 3 – 4 miles I did in the morning and I was pretty tired at the end of the day. We got home, bought some food for dinner and began a quiet night at home, if you can call our 23rd AirBnB apartment home at this point 🙂
To a life well lived!