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Berlin with Lily: Alternative City Walking Tour by Ann Treacy
March 8, 2014, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Berlin

While we enjoyed the historical tour of Berlin – both Lily and I were even more impressed with the alternative walking tour, which featured lots of street art and underground areas. I’ll start with the highlight – we saw Banksy graffiti! We also saw some JR work, which thrilled me. He does large scale portraits of people from the community – by large scale I mean 10+ stories! We saw Blu – which was maybe my favorite. One important distinction between street art and graffiti – graffiti is not sanctioned and is usually done clandestinely. Street art is much more in the open and may even be commissioned.

One of our favorite memes was Little Lutzi – she is painted all over town trying to kill

We also the East Side Gallery, which is a long stretch of the Berlin Wall, now covered in murals. Some of them are fantastic, some are political, some are very OK. Also near that area is a park/you club sort of area. We were in the minority here being native English speakers and being white. There was a soccer pitch, space for skateboarding, cafes, more art. I think Lily could have hung out there all day. We did get a flavor of how young and vibrant Berlin is. There is a real excitement in the city.

On our own we checked out some second hand shops and walked about an extra 10 miles. Just what Lily wanted – but she was a good sport. We didn’t eat a ton of the native cuisine – although we got a healthy and unusual (by US standards) breakfast each day. Actually the breakfast was good – no cereal, pancakes or baked beans but plenty of fish, meat and pastries. It was enough to keep us going most of the day.

While we left I could see that Lily was making her plans to get back to Berlin – probably without her mom.

Berlin with Lily: Tons of History by Ann Treacy
March 8, 2014, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Berlin

Lily and I spent a few days in Berlin. She decided it would be a good idea and somehow talked me into it. I had never been to Germany so I must admit it wasn’t the toughest sell. Mostly what we did on our brief German vacation was walk. We started with the free walking tour of Berlin. We started near the Brandenburg Gate – the former city gate. It was rebuilt in the late 18th century but of course a huge part of the significance is the no man’s land aspect of it. It stood along side the Berlin Wall. We also visited the wall – which is sort of amazing to visit. It’s incredible to think that the wall was built over night and you were stuck wherever you happened to be that night. It was an effort to keep too many people from leaving the area. What a strange solution.

We heard stories of escape – like the people who built a zip line to get to the other side. There are parts of the Wall that stand I suspect mostly as they were back in the day. They are so gloomy and heart breaking. Then there are parts that have been revived with murals – although more on that later.

We saw other highlights such as Check Point Charlie and the parking lot above where Hitler killed himself. They didn’t want to do anything to commemorate the spot because they didn’t want anyone to use it as a reason/opportunity to celebrate Hitler. Mostly you see the cars and the tours gong through. Throughout the tour are telling stories about book burnings, grand art and a huge sense of competition.

Added: My mom asked a good question about the blocks that Lily is sitting on below. It is from the Jewish Memorial, which is spectacular! The blocks are the same square dimension but different heights – and if this makes sense, the height doesn’t change, the depth does. I’m not very easily moved but I have to say the memorial is very touching and thoughtful.

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