Friday, September 10, 2010


My first city spent away from the comforts of someones home came in Berlin. I stayed in a hostel; Wombats, because a friend of mine was staying there as well. It was a great choice as far as hostels go and I would recommend it to anyone travelling as well.

I heard at the hostel about a free tour and decided to try it out. The way the free tour works is that the tour guide asks for tips at the end of the tour. This means the only way for the guide to make any money is to give a great tour that people are willing to tip for. I am not unfamiliar with this type of tour as I had tried it in Sydney Australia as well. As I learned travelling Europe, these tours are offered in many cities and I do not have a bad thing to say about them.

The girl doing our tour did not disappoint. As a history major, I did not know a whole lot about East and West Berlin. The guide led up to that point with a brief history of German unification and the eventual rise of the National Socialist Party and their infamous leader Adolf Hitler. Of course this included World War one and how the treaty of Versailles helped make Germany desperate enough to allow such a leader into power.

She also showed us different memorials put up throughout the city, mainly for the holocaust as Berlin was the capital of Germany. Without regurgitating everything she said, I will share a humorous story that came just before the end of the war.

It was obvious the Germans were losing their edge in the war and that the Russians would be in Berlin soon. Hitler was in his bunker/bomb shelter. When I call it a bomb shelter I, nor was Hitler, joking around. The bunker was insulated by inches upon inches of concrete. I don't recall the exact production details of it, but there is no doubt about its ability to protect someone from the impact of bombs.

This story was told to us in a parking lot on top of what used to be the bunker. It was not preserved as it was the death place of Hitler. Knowing the war was over and not wanting to survive to see what people would do to him, Hitler took a cyanide pill and shot himself in the head for good measure.

A few days later the Soviets arrived and found his bomb shelter (his body was already removed). They decided the best thing to do would be to bomb it!

As you can imagine, nothing happened. It did not get the soviets down, they decided to bomb it again, and once again nothing happened. A bomb shelter survived two bombings, imagine that!

One of the only buildings that survived World War II. It did not however survive the Soviet party once they occupied Berlin however. In a drunken party, it got burned to the ground on accident. It may be recognisable now as the hotel Michael Jackson dangled his child over the balcony of.

Germany. A political building with a glass dome at the top, free for people to go up in to see the workings of congress.

A holocaust memorial. A ton of concrete blocks taking up room. They are there to encourage people to ask questions.

The brick path on the road here goes around the West side of the city. It is where the wall used to stand.

Many buildings in Berlin were destroyed during the war. Some were rebuilt or reconstructed using parts of the old building.

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