Having had quite enough sorrow for one day, my last day in Berlin was spent wandering around some of the more historic sites that inspired Berlin to be one of the culture capitals that it still remains today.
So I started off my drizzly Sunday at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt; a complex of stalls selling every tchotchke from “pieces” of the Berlin Wall to vintage clothing to fresh squeezed orange juice to Indian street food. The weather was not ideal, but this eclectic market was one of my favorite things about Berlin. In the span of about 10 minutes I had already created a wish list about €100 long! Of course I couldn’t leave without buying a little something (and this time it was not food, shocking I know) so I got a small yet simple bracelet, handcrafted in Berlin and sure to remind me of my rainy last day in one of the biggest art capitals of the world.
From there, I decided it was high time I explored a little more of the Alexanderplatz area, which is essentially the center of downtown. This is where you find the infamous Berlin TV tower, the Berliner Dom and many other iconic landmarks.
For this short stint, I decided to bring alone a trusted confidant, Rick Steves. No, not the man himself (I’m not that cool) but his Berlin City Walk audio tour. Even though I had seen most of the places that were on the tour already, it was nice to get all the extra information and tidbits that Rick is so famous for. I learned much more than I was expecting for sure! And, he also pointed out little things along the way that I would never have found out about. For instance, in front of the Humbolt University library in the Bebelplatz, there is a glass plate in the walkway that looks down into an empty white room full of books. This little window is a memorial to the Nazi book burning that took place here in May of 1933. Next to the memorial is a small golden plaque with the foreshadowing words by Heinrich Heine: “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings”.
Shamefully, I never would’ve known about this memorial, or Henrich Heime, or the book burning if it hadn’t been for Rick Steves. And the rest of the city walk was pretty entertaining too! Though I couldn’t help but crack up in the streets at some of the things that were being said in my earbuds. Rick Steves is a genius, but he’s also a bit of a dork. At one point, he was pretending to sneak into the Radisson all incognito-like. But I suppose that’s also part of his charm. I was uncertain of why a walking tour would take you into a hotel that has locations all over the world, then I went in!
I was a fool to doubt the man! Inside the Radisson is a huge cylindrical aquarium that houses the elevator shaft and all around you can see tropical fish and coral as you as enter the many levels of this gargantuan riverside hotel. Thanks again, Rick!
After my city walk, I headed back towards the Berliner Dom to check out the inside of one of the most beautiful buildings in Berlin. And climb the dome of course.
The entrance fee to the cathedral, museum, and dome walkway was €7 but it was €5 for students. I didn’t bring my student card, but having only graduated last year, I figured I could pass. Of course the lady asked to see my student ID, at which point I lied and said I had left it at the hostel (€2 is almost a meal, people). She obviously looked peeved that I was trying to swindle her for €2 so, hoping to make me trip up, she asked what school I was attending. At which point I said Saint Mary’s (my real alma mater), and she sighed heavily with defeat. She couldn’t refuse a student of a Catholic school entrance to a Catholic cathedral. We all know Catholics never lie…
So long story short, I got in! And I kept my €2! A great success on my part. Once inside the tight security, my mind was completely blown by the ornate detail that ordained the inside of the church. Not just the altar, which is always the most detailed part, but everything from the organ to the pulpit to the ceiling. After exploring the ground floor, I figured it was time to head up to the museum and the resplendent dome.
It was definitely worth the €5 for that view! And I certainly got my exercise going up all those stairs. All the way up there were signs warning people that the conditions may be “physically exerting” so I’m pretty proud to say I made it to the top sans heartattack.
After climbing back down, I walked around what is known as Museum Island, though I will confess I didn’t go into any of the museums. To tell the truth, I’m starting to get a little “museumed-out”. But just walking around this concrete jungle of beautiful architecture and greenery was enough for me. Maybe next time, with more money, I’ll spend the day investigating all the history and artifacts Berlin has to offer.
And with that, my final day in Berlin was complete. I went back to my hostel, packed my bags and headed for the train station to catch my overnight train to Munich. Guess you will have to wait and see if I made it!