Berlin is a city of imposing historical sites as well as somewhat quirky sights. As you walk around the heart of the city, here’s a possible day you could enjoy in Berlin, looking for those “now you know you’re in Berlin” places.
If you are in Berlin very long, you are sure to see the Berlin Bear. He comes in different colors and designs, but his shape is always recognizable. This guy was outside our hotel, so he greeted us every morning. When I asked why these bears are everywhere, the answer was, “They are Berlin Bears.” So there you have it.
Then, walking down the street, you come to iconic Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate towers above the center of Berlin. It dates from 1791 and was modeled on the Acropolis in Athens. In recent history, the gate was damaged during World War II, then caught in no man’s land when the Berlin Wall went up. For years it stood visible but abandoned. Now it’s repaired and open once again to the public. We walked back and forth between its pillars, just because we could. We passed by here every day of our Berlin stay, taking in the beauty and symbolism of this monument.
Hop on a bus and ride to Museum Island. While world famous, large museums are here, you can choose the smaller, kitschy DDR Museum. This one gives you a picture of life in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from the end of World War II to the fall of the Wall in 1989. This dark, crowded museum presents how strange life could be in East Germany. It’s as if the displays call for you to marvel and be aghast at the same time.
One part of the museum is an extensive display of what an apartment looked like in the days of gold, orange, and avocado. You can take a selfie to see what you would have looked like as an East German citizen.
You may be scratching your head, wondering about the DDR as you emerge from the museum. But there’s one East German invention that will bring a smile. Traffic lights behind the Wall were not simply red and green circles. They were made into the red and green Traffic Man. West Berliners loved Traffic Man and adopted him, so today all the stoplights in the city feature him. You can even find stores that sell Traffic Man merchandise.
Continuing down the Unter den Linden, a main street in Berlin, you will see the prestigious Humboldt University. You may happen onto a book sale outside. I picked up an Elizabeth George mystery as a souvenir.
If you go:
The DDR Museum is open daily 10 am to 8 pm.
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