Berlin --  vibrant, amazing, hard to believe ...

 ... Melrosian discovers the joys of a united city

by Carl "Rick" Mockler

In early November Jim Smith and I made a quick six day trip to Berlin, Germany.

I found Berlin a vibrant, amazing city. It is hard to believe that it was a divided city less than 15 years ago. The city now functions as one entity. Public transportation is efficient and plentiful. Museums abound and have been or are being upgraded. The zoo is huge and impressive. Lots of bikeways with many people biking even in the cold. Nightlife abounds: symphony, ballet, opera, cabaret, revue, films (Matrix Revolution in 3D Imax was showing), etc. I made it to the Symphony of Berlin at the Philharmonie (built in 1963 as west Berlin did not have such a venue). In the split after WWII, most all the cultural facilities were in the older part of the city which wound up being in east Berlin.

Construction abounds in the city. A central transportation center that will handle 240,000 person/day is almost finished. Potsdamer Platz was a wide open no-man's-land next to the Wall until reunification in 1990. In the 90's it was Europe's biggest building project. Now it is a dynamic center both day and night.

A few sections of the wall still stand, as does a recreated Checkpoint Charlie. The only damaged building standing is the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church. Most historic buildings have been reconstructed.

We also did a half day trip to Potsdam, visiting Schloss Cecilienhof, where the 1945 Potsdam Conference took place.

This trip was just a sampler. There is enough to keep the tourist active for weeks. We were well received. Berliners were courteous and glad to talk to us.

Click here to view my photos of Berlin

There are a lot of photos here, I guess I got carried away with my digital camera. So look at the thumbnails and view the pics that interest you.

January 2, 2004

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