Today I retraced a bit of our path from yesterday and explored a few areas we only saw from a distance. I was surprised at how much I remembered from yesterday. Also having the opportunity to re-read some of plaques today at a more leisurely pace helped the memory process.
This photo was taken along the river just behind the Reichstag. I got here by walking along the nice new pathways along the river from the central train station. The white crosses we see towards the bottom of the picture are there to remember some of the people who were killed trying to leave East Berlin back in the days of the wall. Two worth noting here are Gunter Litfin who was the first to be killed during his attempt to escape to the west on August 8, 1961 and Chris Gueffroy who was the last to be killed on February 5, 1989.
The big dark building in the middle of the picture is the new and very modern Friedrichstrasse train station. Yesterday's tour started just next to there.
This is the original Friedrichstrasse train station just behind the new one above. This was the only train station through which you could pass between East and West Berlin back in the days of the Wall. It's a night club these days, but it does have a good display inside showing what it was like to pass through this station back then. It also has a large TV showing events associated with the Wall, including when the Wall came down. Many of the sites like this one look a bit scary or intimidating by themselves but when get familiar with the surrounding area you realize it's a safe place to be in.
Just another shot showing the Friedrichstrasse train station in the distance. It is just a short ways along the river from the Reichstag and the first photo shown above. Along this section of the river there are many out door restaurants and bars.
After spending a bit more time around the Reichstag, the Brandenburg gate, the new Holocaust memorial, and the area of Hitler's bunker I made my way to Potsdamer Platz. One of the buildings there has an observation deck on the top, so I went up for a look. Note that most buildings in the immediate area where built since 1996. This first picture is a shot looking to the south west. The center area of this building (the long covered street) is a mall like we are used to in North America. I finally found myself some contact lens solution here just like I can get back home. I may have had enough solution to last me until I get home, but I thought I would check it out when I noticed some in the window of a shop. I talked to a women at an Apotheke (Pharmacy) back in Fussen a few weeks ago and apparently Pharmacies and Drug Store are separate here in Germany and she said I would probably need to go to a Drug Store for what I was looking for. It turned out that I actually had to go to an optometrist to get it. This is just an example of how most things we are used to back home are available here, although you may have to do a little research to find it.
This is a shot to the north west and hardly visible in the middle of those trees is the Ferris wheel and the Victory Column I saw the first night I was here. My hotel is just off to the top left of this picture not far from the tree line. The interesting roof in the bottom right of the picture is part of the Sony center. We'll see more of that later.
This is a shot to the north east. The U shaped building just next (left) to that with the big red banner with 2006 on it is the Canadian Embassy. I stopped by there for a short visit because I was intrigued by the display they had setup there. According to the girl at the reception desk it is a fairly new and unique multi-media setup to allow German's to come in and learn about Canada. She thought there might be one or two others in places likes Paris or Tokyo with something similar. The building itself is barely a year old. It is owned by the Canadian government and they have a few tenants in there like coffee shops and restaurants.
Now, an interesting thing about Berlin is that things aren't always as they appear. The building next to the Canadian embassy with that big red banner is in fact fake. It's just a bunch of scaffolding like that below covered with a colourful tarp made to look like the building that we be built here eventually. We came across a few others like this yesterday. This is not the first time I encountered this on my trip. In Venice they used this technique to hide unsightly construction from the public.
Further out to the north east we see the large TV tower and the large German Church, the Dom, just below and too the left it. The green dome directly below the tower is the Catholic church.
The Reichstag is in the upper left of this photo and the Canadian Embassy in the lower right. The Holocaust memorial is in the center of the picture and the area of Hitler's bunker is below and to the right of that.
These are the 3 tall buildings in the center of Potsdamer Platz. The brick building in the middle is the one with the observation deck. That building is only 24 stories high, but it does have the fastest elevator in all of Europe.
This is just behind the section of the wall I showed yesterday. It's the grounds of the "Topography of Terror" and it is where the headquarters of the National Socialist SS and police state were located. There were plans to build a visitors' and documentation center here and construction was actually started in the early 90's, but it was cancelled due to financial and technical difficulties. Until the building can be completed an open air exhibit, which is shown below, will be available to the public. Below the gravel area to the right of the picture is the foundation of one the prisons used by the SS. It is currently covered by sand and gravel to preserve it.
Directly behind the wall, which we see in the upper part of the picture is part of the foundation of the SS headquarters. Unlike the display in the picture above and that below, this one is only in German, but you can get a audio translation is English when they aren't all in use.
Just behind the above display is this temporary exhibit about the Nuremberg trials.
This a display of the Wall back over at Potsdamer Platz. It's located right along the path of the wall as is evident by the track just behind it. East Berlin is on the left and West Berlin is on the right. If you are interested in knowing more about the wall check out the following URL:
This is below the interesting roof on the Sony center mentioned above. They are setup to watch soccer matches here.
The Sony Center along the bottom is next to the large DB, the German Die Bahn rail company, building. The building in the middle foreground with the large truss is a bit interesting. The large truss is used to support several floors of high end apartment buildings that were built directly above a hotel that could not be destroyed or modified because it is a protected historic site.
A couple shots of the center of Potsdamer Platz at sunset.
The area just north east Reichstag just after sunset. This area was all part of East Berlin and hence not very old.
The new central train station. That's were I first arrived in Berlin a couple days ago and where I will be catching a train early Saturday morning for Copenhagen.