As it turns out our hotel was located in a great location for seeing many of the sites we were most intrested in visiting. The hotel was fairly new and built in the former East Berlin just inside the wall. The Berlin Wall is mostly gone but the route is marked by stone in the ground tracing it's former location.
The history of the Wall is very intresting. Before 1961 nothing hindered movement between the eastern (Soviet sector) and western parts of the city (French, British and American sector). On the night of August 13th all movement between the east and west was halted - a temporary wall was thrown up, consisting of barbed wire and and building blocks. The hastily laid initial barrier was eventually replaced with the wall that stood for 28 years and was made of concrete, 13 feet high with a carved top. There's a great museum at Checkpoint Charlie that was well worth the visit. It's the first place we headed to once we checked into our hotel.
From Checkpoint Charlie we headed to Brandenburg Gate. Completed in 1791, it marks the boundry between the historic core of the city to the east and the royal hunting preserve of the Tiegarten to the west. Tiegarten is now a beautiful urban park with miles of trails that I was lucky enough to take in a 6 mile run.
Next we visited the Reichstag which reopened in 1999 to regain it's role as the seat of Bundestag, Germany's parliament. The building was completed in 1894 and was burned in 1933. Hitler used this burning as an excuse to terrorize and imprison his opponents.
As the Red Army fought its way into Berlin in 1945 the Reichstag became a fortress and although the walls stood, it was stormed on April 30th. The building has been gutted and has become one of the top attractions in Berlin due to the glittering steel and glass cupola. We stood in line one evening for an hour and a half to get a tour - well worth it!
By this time we were pretty tired and took a two hour bus tour of the city to get oriented and decide what to do the following day.
Day two started with each of us taking in different parts of the city on foot as we completed our training runs for the day followed by a 4 hour walking tour of the history of the Third Reich. The walking tour turned out to be one of the highlights of our time in Berlin and a somber reminder of a dark time in world history. It was nice to meet a few fellow Americans along the way. Our tour guide was a guy named David who is from Ireland by way of Britin, in Germany completing his Ph. D on Juvenile Delinquency during Hitler's regime. The tour was excellent and David was cute - double bonus!
Ended day two taking in the German History Museum and the Museums located near by.
Final day we had to catch our train around two so we both took in a morning run, got in a few more pictures, bought a few souveniers and lunched at the Berlin Hardrock.
I'd have to say, Berlin is right up there with Athens, London, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, San Fran., and Rome. I know I've had a great time when I find myself dreaming of the day I return and Berlin is definitly one of the places I'll return - if nothing else to see how much more progress was been made at rebuilding this beautiful city.
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