28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: (Nur Mit Euch / Only With You) – ‘cos Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, the Day of German Unity or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

This most important day will take place on October the 3rd.

October 3rd is a public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), otherwise also known as West Germany!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

I cannot under-estimate how much I love this city.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just five (5) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

Oh yeah, and then I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

I mean, what is the big deal?

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin.

THIS city of Berlin.

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

That’s right.

28 years!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandenburg Gate on November 11th, 1989!
@25 Archiv. Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split and divided by the allies as punishment for Nazi Germany. And you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely; Great Britain, France, USSR, and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways, and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany went one step further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city!

This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from escaping.

As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the death strip because so many people were killed while trying to flee.

I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called Mauer Park.

The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is now enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

The Death Strip in now East Berlin but formerly French – Soviet Germany!
©Joyce, S. A.

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell.

The Fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.

STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

The Berlin Wall.
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here!

In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion, when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East!

In fact, I liked Kreuzberg so much that when I first made a documentary about being a British person in Berlin, we did the filming there!

OMG! Don’t I just look like a city babe!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

In Prenzlauer Berg where I live now, we’re about twenty (20) minutes from the original East-West border, and about ten (10) minutes from the first border crossing on the bridge of Bornholmer Straße.

If you’ve ever since videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping, and cheering, and giving out free beer, it was that one!

I always take my friends to where the original wall used to be!

And let me tell you.

I weep tears of joy because even though I wasn’t in Berlin when the Berlin Wall actually fell, living in Berlin means that I’m able to touch, see and sometimes smell, what it was like to live here pre-1989!

Potsdamer Platz today!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

In fact, I can still remember when Potsdamer Platz was nothing more than wasteland and a piece of the border strip known as No Man’s Land. And looked like it too!

Not far off from Prenzlauer Berg, is a street called Bernauer Strasse, also known as Bernauer Straße!

Bernauer Straße as part of the Berlin Wall in 1961 – Frank Baake © Thomas Gade

As you can see, the Berlin Wall used to go right through it!

In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Berlin Wall from your kitchen window, but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! ©frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
©frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape from freedom and found ways to be creative by jumping through windows, sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

Not much of the Wall is left today, which was chipped off and destroyed almost in its entirety. However, three (3) long sections still stand:

The Topography of Terror. You can still see parts of the Berlin Wall right behind it!
©Britta Scherer / Stiftung Topographie des Terrors

An 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the now Topography of Terror, but which used to be the site of the former Gestapo headquarters!

And obviously, after WWII, the original building was razed to the ground.

The Berlin Wall, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

A longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the River Spree, near the Oberbaumbrücke in Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain, which you can see throughout the 1998 cult film Run Lola Run, starring Franke Potente (The Bourne Identity), and otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

The film and soundtrack were just so exhilarating.

Even now, 20 years later!

Bernauer Straße in both East & West Berlin!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, was turned into a memorial in 1999.

And of course, isolated fragments, lampposts, a few watchtowers, and other elements, also remain throughout various parts of the city!

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget Germany’s history!

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 28 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

Let’s get some history!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.

 


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology

Hurrah! Germany is now united as One as we celebrate the Day of German Unity, also known as Re-Unification Day or Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the Day of German Unity, also known as Re-Unification Day or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!


28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Climbing up the Berlin Wall for Freedom! Freedom!!

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution.

The 28th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is important because Berlin will continue to invite locals, expats, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to participate in the anniversary celebrations, and to tell personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

The connecting element will be a gallery, the Band der Einheit or Band of Unity showing the road signs of 11,040 towns and cities in Germany that are a blend of East and West Germany, and thus, a united Germany throughout the country.

As a symbol of German Unity, the gallery will span hundreds of metres across the festival area, and will explore the diversity of Germany in a simple yet appealing way, on a journey of discovery throughout Berlin, Germany, and Europe.

More than one million visitors are expected to attend the three-day festival.

Food in Germany: 5 of the Best Ever!

There will be a diverse programme of local street music and street food, DJ sets, dance sets, and karoeke at the Bearpit in Mauer Park, and across the festival.

There will also be an orchestra, and musicians from all over the world, on stage at Brandenburg Gate, resulting in the Grand Finale of a huge open-air concert featuring German artists such as Boss Hoss, Samy Deluxe, Nena, and others.

Absolutely free of charge of course!

I’ll be there. Wil you?

Come join us!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Nur Mit Euch / Only With You, website here!

 

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

That’s it for now.

See you soon!

28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: (NUR MIT EUCH / ONLY WITH YOU) ‘COS BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Beeeeerlin! I’ll never let you go!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

I’ll be writing about my trip to Sweden, Estonia & Latvia very soon, and in the winter, I’ll be travelling to India.

Keep a look out.

Yipee!

October & November is going to be smashing.

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Have you ever been to Berlin? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall Fell. Where were you in 1989? Let me know in the comments below!

 See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Advertisements

How to spend 48 hours in Berlin – DAY ONE – #bestofBerlin

Glühwein or mulled wine to go - at the German Christmas Market

So last week, I took part in the Berlin campaign #bestofBerlin as part of a tourism initiative to discover new and old parts of Berlin.

Let me tell you, if you live in Berlin, you don’t know how lucky you are as Berlin is one of the most attractive cities in the world not only to live in, but to visit. And if you’ve never been here, I don’t even know what you’ve been thinking.

Why not, should be the question?

When, should be the answer!

Last week, I gave you A Short Introduction To Berlin so if you missed it, go ahead, read it and catch up! As promised, this week’s post is all about what you can do in a short period of time, so without further ado:

HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN BERLIN: #bestofBerlin

© visitBerlin - Philip Koschel
© visitBerlin – Philip Koschel

First of all, get yourself the Berlin Welcome Card for either 2015 or 2016. I wrote about it last week here.

If you decide to stay for a couple of days and need the Berlin Welcome Card for 48 hours only, then get yourself a Day Pass or a Day Return ticket too which you can use to supplement the extra day or two, as necessary. I explained how to buy BVG (Berlin public transport) tickets and what to do with them here. Note that they cannot be used to see tourists sights only to take you around the city.

Taking the shuttle bus. © Photo: Sergej Horovitz
Taking the shuttle bus.
© Photo: Sergej Horovitz

The Berlin WelcomeCard can be bought pretty much everywhere really, and not only does it include transport tickets for 48 hours including the city of Potsdam, but 200 discounts, inside tips, information on top attractions, a city map and a mini guide-book written in English, German, Italian and Spanish! I don’t know if you can get the guides in other world languages, but I guess you can always ask!

Please note that the VisitBerlin website is available in 14 languages – German, English, French, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Turkish, and Korean!

I was given a complimentary Berlin WelcomeCard and it also included a €5.00 discount for the TV Tower restaurant or bar and a free voucher for a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz!

Now once you’re all sorted with the Berlin Welcome Card, you’re all good to go and we can now begin.

DAY ONE

© visitBerlin - Wolfgang Scholvien
© visitBerlin – Wolfgang Scholvien
  • Leave your hotel, hostel or apartment and take a bus, tram or train. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard transport ticket.
  • Start at Alexanderplatz and go to the World Clock. Take a couple of pictures. If it’s in the summer, take pictures at the fountain too.
  • From the World Clock, turn right. Follow the tram line. Watch the trams. You’re in East Berlin so most of the transportation you’ll see in this part of the city, will be trams. If you don’t see any trams at all, you’re in West Berlin!
The TV Tower or Fernsehturm in Berlin.
The TV Tower or Fernsehturm in Berlin.
  • Right in front of you is a huge block TK Maxx building. Walk in front of it and just around the corner you will see a very tall building. This building is called the TV Tower or Fernsehturm. Go inside. There are usually long queues so pre-book your ticket if you can. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount and €5.00 off your bill in the restaurant or bar (with a minimum spend of €15.00). There are magnificent panoramic views. It really is brilliant to see and is the tallest building in Germany! Also if you’re in the gentrified district of Mitte or Prenzlauerberg (where I live), you can generally see the TV Tower from most parts of the region. If you can’t, you’re in West Berlin lol!
  • Leave the TV tower and there’s another fountain right in front of you (or in December, one of the Christmas Markets), turn left. Go straight down until you get to a huge red building. This building is called the Red Town Hall or Roten Rathaus. This is the seat of our Town Mayor. It’s usually free to go in and has an impressive fantastic ceiling, entrance and hall. Take a few photos.
The historical Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel in Berlin.
The historical Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel in Berlin.
  • There’s a lot of construction work going on at the moment so take the time to read what the buildings will look like in the future! Cross the road in front of you. You will soon find yourself in the oldest part of Berlin. It’s called the Nikolai Quarter or Nikolaiviertel and it’s one of my most favourite parts of Berlin to visit. Even if I say so myself!
  • Wander around and take photographs.
Not the Weeping Angels of Dr. Who! Thank goodness!
Not the Weeping Angels of Dr. Who. Thank goodness!
  • Visit the St. Nicholas Church or the Nikolaikirche. It’s not only a church but a museum too and an audio guide about Berlin’s history in different languages, is provided! The church is over 800 years old and has a hidden basement floor that is considered to be one of the oldest existing rooms in Berlin, interactive screens and lots of stone statues. It quite reminded me of the Weeping Angels in Dr. Who! Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 40% discount and children under 18 are free. There’s also free admission the first Wednesday of every month. Tickets are usually €5.00.
The Knoblauchhaus in Berlin. © Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Cornelius M. Braun
The Knoblauchhaus in Berlin.
© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Cornelius M. Braun
  • Visit the Knoblauchaus. I didn’t have enough time this time around but I’ve written about it before. The Knoblauchhaus is a museum and the former residence of the Knoblauch family. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and also one of the few remaining 18th century town houses still standing, and gives visitors a glimpse of Berlin upper-middle class life in the Biedermeier German Romantic era! Entrance is completely free but donations are welcome.
  • Find your way out of the Quarter. Use your map and then walk back up to the Karl Liebknecht Straße.  You can then do four things:

You can walk straight down into a street that will lead you to Hackescher Markt.

You can cross the road and turn slightly to the left and in warmer weather, take a cruise.

You can cross the road and turn left and walk down into the lovely boulevard called Unter den Linden.

The DDR - East German Museum in Berlin.

You can cross the road, turn slightly left, walk along the Liebknechtbrücke (bridge), go down the steps and right in front of you is the DDR Museum. If you can see the Cathedral in front of you and the river, you’re in the right place, if you can’t. Use your map!

  • Visit the DDR Museum. I was lucky to get a personal tour of the museum by the PR spokesperson before the museum opened, as it can get crowded quite quickly.
Die "Schwalbe" or East German moped at the DDR Museum © DDR Museum, Berlin 2015
Die “Schwalbe” or East German moped at the DDR Museum © DDR Museum, Berlin 2015

I loved it! It’s a lively, interactive museum with lots of cubicles with sounds, games, noises and things that you can touch, hold, smell and feel by pressing buttons and flicking or sliding pages with a single finger! The DDR Museum presents everyday life in the former East Germany or GDR experienced by ordinary people focusing on their homes, schools, jobs, politics and family life. It’s the 6th most visited museum in Berlin’s and very popular with teenagers and families with kids. In fact, I spent about 3 hours there myself!

  • Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount and tickets are usually €7.00, online tickets are €5.00. Children pay €4.00.
  • Once you’ve had your fill, go to Hackescher Markt. Have lunch or go shopping. I’ve written about excellent German food in the past and most of the places I mentioned are not too far away. Use your map and the Berlin WelcomeCard or just wander around. There are lots of great little places to eat and boutique / independent vintage shops to rustle through.
©Victorgrigas
©Victorgrigas
  • Take tram M1 or 12 to Sbahnhof Friedrichstrasse or take the train (one stop). Take in the view along the way on a road called Oranienburger Straße. This road is extremely popular with tourists and locals for the nightlife. Bars are hidden on roads linking off Oranienburger Straße and in every corner you will find, brilliant restaurants and trendy hipster bars. This part of Mitte used to be a prominent Jewish area before WWII and only the New Synagogue and various small Jewish outlets remain as the area has been fully gentrified. Not far from here was the Kunsthaus Tacheles which you can see in the film The Fifth Estate played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Germany’s Daniel Brühl. In the old days, it used to be an open air exhibition of metal sculptures, artistic studios, an alternate cinema and a really banging club but it’s closed down and is now a car park!
  • Come back at night and take in the view along the way. Be polite and respectful as this street is known for being a highlight of the sex industry. And just like in Amsterdam. It’s legal.
Drag Queen at THE WYLD in Berlin!
Drag Queen at THE WYLD!
  • Once at the Friedrichstrasse train station, either walk backwards and take in a show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast to watch the glamour and suspense that is THE WYLD or walk backwards and take a river-side stroll and have a drink or two at the riverside bars or at one of Berlin’s political historical bars called Ständige Vertretung. It’s a popular place which we take our friends to, as it’s the only place in Berlin in which you can get top kölsch beer only brewed in the city of Cologne! Use your map and the Berlin WelcomeCard for the Friedrichstadt-Palast and most of the main theatres in Berlin. You get a 25% discount and ticket prices vary depending on seating.
  • From the Friedrichstrasse train station, you can of course, walk straight down. You will see the Dussmann KulturKaufhaus Bookshop. You can buy books and small gifts here and it’s opened until midnight, except on Sunday!
© visitBerlin - Günter Steffen
© visitBerlin – Günter Steffen
  • Continue on until you get to Unter den Linden. Cross the road and go straight down. This is Berlin’s most famous High Street and also the street where East Berlin meets West Berlin. You can either take the underground train for a few stops or keep walking down. If you’re interested in seeing more of Berlin, I recommend walking on. If you easily tire, take the train 3 more stops down.
  • If you’re walking, take in the various car showrooms on both Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. There is the Opel Museum and showroom, and the Automobil Forum.
  • Go further down and nip into a shop or two for a snack, and a drink.
  • If you’re really into it, go to the delightful French Galeries Lafayette department store in Berlin, for oysters, champagne and a little light shopping!
The very famous Checkpoint Charlie border sign English, Russian, French & German, in Berlin!
The very famous Checkpoint Charlie border sign in English, Russian, French & German, in Berlin!
  • Take the underground train two stops down and stop at one of the most iconic stops in all of Berlin – Kochstrasse also known as Checkpoint Charlie!
  • Get your photo taken by the “soldiers” there and really get to grips with the history of Berlin before WWII and after it.
  • Turn right and go into the The Checkpoint Charlie Museum or Mauermuseum – Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. This museum is an exhibition that explores not only the history of the Berlin Wall but also examines infamous escapes from East Germany via hot air balloons, homemade mini-submarines to hidden flaps in cars and even inside a fake cow! Use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually €12.50 and children pay €6.50.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
  • Once you’ve finished, go backwards again and follow the many large-format photos and info boards hung up showing photographs of this most famous border crossing point and the impact of the Berlin Wall on the history of Germany . The boards outside are free but you can also go into the Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie. I haven’t been personally, but if you use the Berlin WelcomeCard. You get a 30% discount. Tickets are usually €5.00. and children under 14 are free.
  • Walk on for about 2 minutes, and you will see the fantastic Currywurst Museum which I wrote about last year. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually €11.00 and children pay €7.00: Under 6’s are free. On #MuseumMonday all visitors get a 20 % discount if not discounted prior!
  • Tickets can also be combined with Yadegar Asisi’s Panorama DIE MAUER exhibition which shows the viewer the daily life of people in the vicinity of the Berlin Wall, on a fictitious autumn day in the 1980s. Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Individual tickets usually cost €10.00 and children under 6 pay €4.00.
Outside the Trabi Museum in Berlin.
Outside the Trabi Museum in Berlin.
  • After this, turn right down Zimmerstraße and pop into the Trabi Museum which shows a large collection and varieties of trabis. For those of you who don’t know, a trabant also known fondly as a trabi, was a car produced in the former East Germany. It was a small car and very, very robust. It was meant to last a life-time and it did! You can also take photographs at this museum. Whilst there, I was the only visitor!
  • Use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 50% discount. Individual tickets usually cost €5.00 and children under 12 are free.
  • Walk further down and you reach Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari.
Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari, in Berlin.
Trabi World with a Trabi-Safari, in Berlin.

This place was amazing. You get to walk and wander around the shop and premises where they not only have trabis but mustangs and special E-cars too.

This is the place where tours start and then, you get to go on a trabi safari.

Yep!

You get to take over the wheels of a trabi!

As most of you know.

I don’t drive!

And I didn’t really think about it when I booked my ticket. Luckily, I was able to sit in with the trabi travelguide – Martin and his young driver – Zauri!

Our convoy of trabis in single file! In Berlin!
Our convoy of trabis in single file! In Berlin!

I arrived about 10 minutes before the safari tour was to actually start. Before the tour takes place there is an introduction of people present and a briefing as to the rules and regulations of driving in Germany, driving a trabi and following the exact instructions of our guide as he speaks through a microphone which can be heard in each and every car. A valid driving licence is necessary.

Our group was the English-speaking combination of people from England and Holland. There was also a German-speaking group.

Our convoy was a single file of 8 cars and our car was an E-car rather than the traditional manual car.

I sat in the back and even though I’m petite, it’s a little small so I’d say about two – three people in the car should be sufficient. We started on the border-corner of Kreuzberg and thus, West Berlin, and then drove to the main tourists sights of Berlin. We drove near the river, we went to Alexanderplatz and the Town Hall, Unter den Linden, Potsdammer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, the Denkmal / Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the War Memorials, Tiergarten, the Reichstag (parliament building), past the oldest hotel in Berlin (the Adlon Hotel), on the Oberbaumbrücke or Oberbaum Bridge over the lovely River Spree  and touching through both Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Both suburbs were extremely important as they were divided by the Berlin Wall otherwise known as East Side Gallery.

In driving a trabi, we even became tourist attractions ourselves!
In driving a trabi, we even became tourist attractions ourselves!

The trabi safari tour was great. And let me just say that Martin – our guide – was a hoot! We got to take photographs and little rest stops. We even became tourist attractions ourselves as a convoy of eight (8) little trabi cars is not something you see everyday.

Highly recommended!

I went on the Berlin Wild East tour but there are a variety of four (4) different tours to choose from.

The tours take 1 hour and 10 minutes and take place on a regular basis, throughout the day. Definitely use the Berlin WelcomeCard and you can get a 25% discount. Tickets are usually from €34 – €60.00 per person, depending on how many passengers are in a single car. Children under 15 are free!

That’s all for now.

You can see all the places that I went to previously by following me via #bestofBerlin on Twitter & Facebook.

See ya next week!

This post is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary Berlin WelcomeCard to try out, the experience travelling by an East-German Trabi is all my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I’ll be writing about how to explore Berlin in just 48 hours – DAY TWO!

Yo Ha!

Myself actually being driven in a real Trabi, in Berlin!
Myself actually being driven in a real Trabi, in Berlin!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you have any questions about Berlin, don’t be shy, I’m an expert! Go ahead and ask me!

It’ll be Xmas soon!

Watch this space!

How to spend 48 hours in Berlin - DAY ONE - #bestofBerlin

Have you ever spent 48 hours in Berlin? Do you think it’s enough time to see aspects of #bestofBerlin in two days, or would you stay longer?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

25 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, you’re my BFF!

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!  Photo@ 25 Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung - Uwe Gerig. (www.berlin.de/2013)
The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
Photo@ 25 Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig. (www.berlin.de/2013)

You know how I love this glorious city right.

You know.

This city called Berlin.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just under a year ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

I mean, what’s the big deal?

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin. THIS city of Berlin, has been together in peace and harmony for 25 years.

That’s right.

25 years!

A few days ago was October 3rd.

October 3rd is the public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD) otherwise also known as West Germany.

You are leaving the American Sector! Photo credit: © Owen Franken/Corbis
You are leaving the American Sector!
Photo credit: © Owen Franken/Corbis

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split up and divided by the allies as punishment, and you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely: Great Britain, France, USSR and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany took it further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city. This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from fleeing. As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the “death strip” because so many people were killed while trying to flee. I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called “Mauer Park.” The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell. The fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989,

The Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall.

STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

In May, I went on a brilliant walking tour with an organisation called the Real Berlin Experience Walking Tour in one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here! In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East.

In Prenzlauerberg where I live now, the same thing occurred. There is a street called Bernauer Strasse on which the Berlin Wall also lay. In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Wall from your kitchen window but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! Photo@ frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
Photo@ frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape to freedom and found ways to be creative by sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 25 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

Read on…..!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.

People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.
East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.

9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity” also known as “Re-Unification Day.”


Climbing up the Berlin Wall. Freedom! Freedom!!
Climbing up the Berlin Wall.
Freedom! Freedom!!

25 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution. The 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is again going to mobilise as many as people as possible.

Berlin is inviting Berliners, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to actively participate in the anniversary celebrations as balloon patrons, and to tell your personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

You, and I, are invited to be involved in looking back at the events of 1989, and reflecting on the connection to the present.

The stories, memories, and wishes expressed by balloon patrons for a peaceful world without walls, are going to be seen and collected at www.fallofthewall.com. The result will be a unique online gallery that commemorates and reflects on the Berlin Wall from today’s perspective. If you want to be a part of this unique moment, then please go to the website here.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE or Light Installations at Engelbecken  © Kulturprojekte Berlin WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder, Photo@ Daniel Büche (www.berlin.de/2013)
Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE or Light Installations at Engelbecken
© Kulturprojekte Berlin WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder, Photo@ Daniel Büche
(www.berlin.de/2013)

From the 7th to the 9th of November 2014, Berlin will once again be (temporarily) divided from Bornholmer Strasse to Mauerpark, and the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse to the Reichstag, past the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie to the East Side Gallery. 8,000 luminous, white balloons will mark the former course of the Wall. For more info about this: go here.

The highlight of the 25th year anniversary is a spectacular community event that will send all the balloons soaring into the sky. At the Brandenburg Gate, the Staatskapelle Berlin will play a live broadcast of the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with “Ode an die Freude” under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. For more info about this: go here.

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE at Brandenburg Gate  © Kulturprojekte Berlin_WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder. Photo@ Daniel Büche (www.berlin.de/2013).
Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE at Brandenburg Gate
© Kulturprojekte Berlin_WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder. Photo@ Daniel Büche
(www.berlin.de/2013).

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so I will be returning to our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar, in November.

As I told you last week, my huge surprise for you is that next week, I will be going to France! I can’t believe it. On my first (1st) ever press trip! My next post will be about Northern France. Yipee!

In October, I will be writing about the British National Theatre LIVE production. The next production coming up at Cinestar Berlin – Original is:

Skylight on: 30.10.14.

Frankenstein – Original Cast on: 13.11.14.

Frankenstein – Reversed Cast on: 27.11.14.

I’ll be participating in An Eat-the-world food Kreuzberg walking tour on 18.10.14. ‘So exciting. Yum!

DANIEL SLOSS – Live! with very special guest Jack Woodhead – is going to take place on 21.10.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

In October & November, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Following a smash-hit tour of the UK and Ireland, LET IT BE will descend on Berlin with a six (6) day exclusive showing of a celebration of The Beatles from 11.11.14 – 16.11.14 at the Admirals Palast.

October is going to be amazing.

Watch this space!
19-year-old guard Conrad Schumann on August 15, 1961 jumping over the barbed wire in his uniform while toting his machine gun. Photo@ artwork images - Klaus Lehnartz.
19-year-old guard Conrad Schumann on August 15, 1961 jumping over the barbed wire in his uniform while toting his machine gun.
Photo@ artwork images – Klaus Lehnartz.

Have you been to Berlin? Where were you in 1989?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post.

Share it! Tweet it! Like it!