Last night we made the decision: we’d be going on a tour no matter what. Unfortunately the tour group we wanted to use, Fat Tire (came highly recommended by friends of my wife), had just redone their website. Whilst I’m sure everything worked fine on the developer’s machine it rejected both my credit cards numerous times over. This meant our only option was to either phone them, something which I didn’t want to bother with, or we could rock up at their shop bright and early and hope that there was still space on the tour we wanted to do.
Luckily, there was.
My wife had said that she was pretty sure she could make it through a Segway tour and as it turns out they’re quite a lot less popular. Consequently the group was much smaller, a grand total of 6 of us including the guide. We also managed to get paired up with another 2 Australians who happened to be on the tail end of a work trip. I made a right fool of myself by not recognizing their accent straight away (they, of course, recognized mine), answering “Australia” when they asked where I was from. As it turns out they were from Sydney and worked for Bayer. I didn’t press them for more details than that after my initial gaff.
The tour was a great little introduction into Berlin and the history behind it. I noticed on our journey in how much of the city looked new when compared to other European cities we’d been in so far. I didn’t make the connection between Berlin and the war though which is why much of the city looks new. Of note where the buildings that were left as is, like the Berlin Cathedral pictured above, which still bore many of the scars that war inflicted on it. Germany never wants to forget the tragedy that it wrought upon itself and the world, it seems.
We visited quite a few other points of interest like the longest section of the wall that remains, the holocaust memorial and the Bradenburg gate. Our guide was very knowledgeable on a lot of things, of interest to me specifically was the history of Prussia and it’s interlinks with Germany. You see whilst I’m a 5th generation Australian (yeah, struth mate) my last name is actually Prussian in origin. Whilst I’m not entertaining any notions of royal lineage, I mean what royalty would’ve come to Australia willingly, it’s interesting to see where your roots come from. Especially in a place like this where its history stretches back so far.
Once we were done with the tour we settled in for some lunch at a local beer garden to plan out the rest of our day. I definitely wanted to go back to museum island to check out the Berlin Cathedral and the nearby museum. The cathedral was well worth the time we spent there however the Altes Museum probably wasn’t worth the price of admission. Sure there was some interesting artifacts but after you’ve seen collections like what the Louvre has you kinda feel like the smaller places probably aren’t worth it unless you’re interested in something specific.
We had planned to go to the Topography of Terror afterwards but by then we were both starting to fade. So we decided to head back to the hotel for a quick break before heading up to another beer garden that came recommended by our tour guide. However the weather turned on us, bucketing down rain and likely ruining any attempt to drink beer outside. Instead we settled on a local German restaurant that did some very good traditional food.
Tomorrow is in a bit of a flux but I’m sure we’ll work out something once breakfast is done. It’s great to be back on form again, even if my feet are starting to complain again. I’m also sure now that 3 nights is a good sweet spot for seeing a good number of cities in Europe as it gives you enough time to see the things that really matter to you. Sure you could spend longer but thinking back to our USA trip all those years ago I can definitely remember having a lot of “filler” days in places we spent 4+ nights in. Of course we could’ve had even more time if I hadn’t listened to a certain friend about taking the train everywhere but hey, when in Rome right?