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Kristen & Joe in Germany: Last Day in Berlin

Our last day in Berlin Joe was feeling better, so we made the most of it.  We first headed to the East Side Gallery.  The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to keep the eastern Berlin residents from escaping to the west.  When the wall was torn down in 1990, a section of the wall on the East side of town was left up and many artists were invited to paint a section of it.


Some of the paintings were very haunting, while others were very beautiful.


It was very moving emotionally.  This was the first time in many decades that artists could fully express themselves without having to worry that the government would punish them for what they had to say.  Joe had fun jumping from one side of the wall to the other.  Hard to believe that a couple of decades ago, he would be shot for doing that.  After that, we walked around the area for a bit.  We accidentally stumbled on a circus community.  That was interesting!  There is an area on the east side that was turned into a man-made beach.  It had volleyball courts and a dance stage set up as well.  Then we found out there was an international sand sculpture competition nearby and we decided to check it out.



It was amazing what artists could do with sand!  I can’t even build a sand castle without it toppling over.  I was really impressed with this side of town.  After all the oppression, the arts in Berlin (as well as the people) really seem to be flourishing.

We then made our way to Checkpoint Charlie.

This was the best known crossing point between the East and West.  There is now a museum near there that tells some of the creative ways people tried to get over the border.  Since it was over  €12 per person to get in, we decided to go to the main attraction instead.  Checkpoint Charlie has been reconstructed to look a lot like it used to, including guys in American military uniforms taking pictures with tourists.  People can even get their passports stamped there with all the stamps used in the soviet days.


We then went to the Jewish Museum.  I have to say, this is definitely one of the most interesting museums I have been to.  The architecture was designed with the museum in mind.  The architect (who is Jewish) wanted to convey how the concentration camp victims must have felt: confusion, isolation, and a bit of nausea.  The floors were tilted, walls were uneven, and doors were confusing to open.


We got lost frequently.  To my husband who likes everything to be neat and orderly, it was his version of hell.  There were steps that lead to nowhere and huge rooms that was completely dark with the exception of one small window at the top.  It was very unsettling, but the architect did an amazing job at designing it.  Joe got tired halfway through, so he went outside to erst and I stayed a little while longer to see more of the museum.  I didn’t see it all.  It was a huge museum.  After we left, we went back to the hostel and I called my sister on the phone because it was her birthday.

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