There are many other things to write about Berlin, so here are a couple. Lonely Planet’s ‘Europe on a Shoestring’, it seems, has little shoestring-y about it. We’ve been collecting stuff to do that’s free or really cheap that they inconveniently missed out…

While some may go to Berlin for the banging techno raves, we were already becoming exhausted and had the weight of recent history on our shoulders, so stuck to tamer activities.

The Topography of Terror (which perhaps does not have the tamest of titles), which Josh mentioned already, is an incredibly detailed examination of the growth and eventual fall of Nazi power. What is possibly most mortifying about all of the facts presented is just how many high-ranking Nazis went on to have high-ranking positions in West Germany, and how many basically got away with everything. There are reports of people getting 7 years in prison for involvement in planning the murders of tens of thousands of people. Moreover, they generally only serve a few of those years, mainly because they were brought to trial when they were about 85… It’s heavy stuff, but well worth checking out. Plus it’s free.

The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime is very near the Jewish Memorial  and has a similar aesthetic. Check it out – one concrete block just a bit further up the road, look inside!

Walking tours run from outside the Starbucks near the Brandenburg Gate every day at 11am and 1pm. They’re about 3 1/2 hours long, so be prepared for the cold if it’s September (unlike some sorry looking Brazilians, one of whome ended up buying an awful synthetic Soviet hat at Checkpoint Charlie because he was just that cold!). I’d assume they vary according to your guide, but ours was pretty damn good. I also had Josh giving me the more radical (or simply more accurate, as some may say…) interpretations of the same events (e.g. it wasn’t the Communists who burnt down the Reichstag, it was the Nazis as it gave them an excuse to seize power) as a sort of constant undercurrent! The ‘free’ tour works on tips, so it’s up to you whether you pay or how much.

Out by Warschauer Strasse station, there’s a brilliant oldschool black and white photo booth, the kind you don’t even see in colour in England any more, where you have four different photos. Not free, but not expensive, and totally excellent!

Obviously there’s always the East Side Gallery, as well.

We were staying in Kreuzberg, which is a Turkish area, so we were surrounded by loads of different pastries, kebabs, falafels, pizzas, tea…

Advertisements