Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunny Spring Day in Berlin

                                 View from atop the Fernsehturm

Day 5: Tuesday March 29th

            We have absolutely gorgeous weather today. The skies are completely clear, leaving us with a sunny and crisp spring morning. We take the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz and make a quick visit to the Marienkirche, which is the oldest operating church in Berlin. Then on to the Fernsehturm—TV Tower—which was built in East Berlin and meant to be a symbol of the prowess and technological advances of Communism. Unfortunately, the architect had not foreseen that the mirrored ball would reflect a golden cross on sunny days. It was then lauded in the west as an ironic symbol of the perseverance of religion. A speedy elevator takes us to the top of the tower--six meters a second, forty seconds to the viewing deck. Our ears definitely popped. We are rewarded however, with an astounding 360° view of the city. Ina points out her former apartment in the East, where the border lay, and all the areas of the city that were reduced to rubble during the war and later made into parks.
            Sabina told us that when she was 17 and recovering from an illness, she went to visit her godmother in the West. Since the rest of her family had the opportunity to leave the east to visit her, they gathered birth certificates and a few other belongings in a hurry to escape to the west. This was only one day before the wall was constructed, which would have blocked their exit. The decision was sure to have affected the rest of her, and her family’s life. Several years after, her mother died of a heart attack followed six months later by her father. Sabina blames the stress of escaping for their deaths. Even families who were able to escape had to deal with hardships.
            After the Fernsehturm we walk towards the Museum Island and take a boat tour that highlights the Berliner Dom, The Parliamentary buildings, The Reichstag, the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and more. Afterwards we walk to one of Eddie’s favorite Currywurst stands, which features several varieties of sausage including Ostrich! On our walk to the bus, we stop by a swanky Chocolatier shop that exhibits a giant chocolate egg, Easter bunny, Reichstag model, and volcano erupting with chocolate!
            To go home, we decide to take a bus through the Turkish section of town. Turks are currently the largest immigrant group in Germany. Many came during the 60s in search of work and decided to stay. Their influence on German culture is often seen with the high presence of Döner stands—similar to Greek gyros. Many small shops feature Turkish script, but the highlight of the neighborhood is a children’s playground that is decorated in a middle-eastern style. 

                                Giant Chocolate Easter Bunny...mmm