Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-08-03

Stayed the night in Berlin

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From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@brong.net>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 07:57:14 +1000 (EST)
There are 3 or 4 different companies doing walking tours of Berlin
in English. We had chosen one, and made sure we would be up in
time to reach
it.  We didn't actually find the one we'd planned for, but joined the
     "Original Tour" instead. It was fantastic.

We started in East Germany, seeing lots of reconstructed buildings, and
getting a good background on the history of Germany up to WW2 (about 15
minutes anyway), then moved through the split and the "Berlin Airlift"
and the construction of the wall. We either walked to, or had pointed
out, most of the important buildings in the city. Particularly
impressive is the monument to the burned books of the Nazi era - a plate
of glass on the ground. Only if you look closely do you see a giant room
underneath, lined with empty bookshelves. Very imaginative, and very
moving. Past the Brandenburg Gates (sorry, the T-Mobile gates - like a
lot of Berlin they are "closed undergoing reconstruction/restoration" -
at least they have a life sized photograph with some clever scene
showing through - a soccer game in this case) and to the remains of the
wall. We finished the walk at Checkpoint Charlie - and after lunch
returned to see the Checkpoint Charlie museum.

The stories of the escapes in the CC museum were great - some people
even managed to scavenge the parts for ultralight planes, or build
little hand-held underwater submarines. The designer of the latter
actually patented the invention, and it's still used by military teams
today (though slightly upgraded of course). A large part of the museum
covered the use of non-violent resistance, with Gandhi featuring

We made it back to the half-price ticket place to get our tickets
changed to the 4th, but were very disappointed by the "Cabaret". Despite
our obvious lack of German language skills, we had been sent to
something I would describe as a lot closer to Comedy - with a very witty
guy sitting up the front with nothing but a chair, table and glass of
water - and telling really funny jokes... in German. We were also seated
in the front row, and we could tell our lack of appropriate laughter was
not only putting off the other people on our table, it was disturbing
the comedian. He was trying especially hard to get through to us. Poor
him, I hope someone told him afterwards that we didn't understand a
word! We left at interval, no point in everyone suffering any more...

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