In case you missed it:
Sunday morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast at a cafe and prepared to tackle Berlin's metro system. My husband loves to figure out the subway/train/tram systems in every city we visit and he makes it sort of like a personal mission. I could care less as long as we get from A to B. (By the way, Barcelona ranks as the easiest/cleanest/most efficient train system so far.) We figured out what trains we could take, confirmed at our hotel front desk and made our way to the station. The ticket machine conveniently had an English button which is always handy however the options were confusing. It wouldn't accept our destination point and because there were multiple trains going in that direction, we didn't know what end point to put in. Eventually, we settled on buying a day pass but the machine wouldn't take our money. It rejected both of our credit cards, would not scan our cash and we didn't have enough in coins to make the transaction. The station was busy, we had a line up behind us and we were getting frustrated so we abandoned it. Unable to accept defeat, we walked to the next station in hopes that because it was a larger stop there would be a ticketing counter that could help us but alas, we just couldn't make it work. This made Joe grumpy which in turn makes me grumpy so I marched on over to the taxi stand and put an end to the whole debacle. Berlin Metro - you fail in our eyes.
All of the above struggle was to bring us to the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall covered in paintings as a symbol of freedom.
Coming to Berlin, I was primarily interested in the Nazi history but our docent's personal stories of growing up with the wall really piqued our interest. From 1961 until 1989, this wall separated families, friends, and thousands of East Germans tried to defect, 5000 successful while 200 were killed in the attempt. (Numbers are disputed on both accounts.) Much of the 155 km long wall that separated West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany has been dismantled, but the East Side Gallery remains.
Should we be fortunate enough to return to Berlin, I'd love to spend more time looking at this side of the city's history. Often times when looking at history, it seems so far in the past but the Berlin Wall came down in my lifetime. It's amazing to see how far this city has come in a relatively short amount of time.
From the gallery, we caught another taxi to the Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum.) Entry into the museum is 5€ and we opted for the audio guide which is another 3€. The museum was designed by Daniel Libeskind, a Polish-Jewish architect who is known around the world for his work including the Denver Art Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum and he is the master plan architect of the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre site in New York City.
The design of the museum itself is quite interesting and the audio guide did a really great job at explaining the reasons behind the architectural decisions. The Garden of Exile stands out particularly in my mind - designed to "completely disorient the visitor. It represents a shipwreck of history" as described by Libeskind and it truly does that. Slanted ground and tall cement columns left me feeling dizzy as I stumbled through, occasionally leaning on the columns to try to regain my balance.
The museum itself is extensive, chronicling German Jewish history from medieval times to present day. It was a lot of information to take in yet certainly interesting to deepen our understanding.
Day 3 was busy - taxis, walking, reading, learning. We were tired, yet exhilarated so we capped off Sunday like this...