On the Thursday we drove into the city, 20 miles from the campsite. I showed Ben the sights (I had been 18 months ago for Marie-Ann’s hen do!). We walked down the East Side gallery, with the fab graffiti, then over to the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag, and the Holocaust memorial. We went into the centre below the memorial where there was very thought provoking exhibition on the Holocaust. We then walked over to Checkpoint Charlie and saw another section of the Berlin wall.
We had booked a cheapo room in the Holiday-Inn in Mitte for the weekend to celebrate Ben’s b’day, so Friday lunchtime we drove in with Jake, checked in and then hurried along to the park opposite where we knew a tour of the Flak Tower would be taking place at 4pm. We joined a bunch of people and the Danish tour leader who opened up the big metal gates into the partially destroyed tower. It was really dark and cold inside, we put our hard hats on and wound down the last remaining stairs to the floor below and across a bridge that hovered above the huge interior of the tower, it was a long way down!! We walked through the large concrete rooms where the tour guide filled us in with bucket loads of information about how the Flak towers worked and why and how they were built. The next room was huge, to our left the thick concrete wall had caved in after the French blew it up in 1948. The reinforced metal in the concrete was pinging out of the wall at all angles, blocks of concrete were being held up by metal chains (for safety!), the size of it was breathtaking.
That evening we jumped in the car and drove over to the airport to meet Ollie who was spending the weekend with us. It was so exciting to see him!! We popped back to the hotel, then went out into the city for a few civilised drinks!
Saturday: We had a lie in, walked Jake and then caught the u-bahn into the centre, it was Christopher Street Day. Berlin was buzzing with people, dressed up in bright sparkly outfits, the atmosphere was amazing. We brought ourselves a Wurst and Brot and watched the parade go through the streets, music blaring out of the floats, people dancing like crazy and everyone looking like they were having a fab time. As soon as the floats passed the Holocaust memorial the music was turned off and everyone went into an eery silence, how very respectful. We then made our way back to the hotel in preperation for some Saturday night drinks to celebrate Ben’s birthday!
Sunday, Ben’s birthday, was a chilled out day, suffering a little from the effects of the night before, we dragged ourselves out of bed and back into the centre where we found a fab cafe selling traditional Berlin food and even cider! After we were full up on schnitzel we walked through the market and along the river bank, there was a lovely cafe/bar on the riverside made out of wood, which cascaded down the bank where ballroom music blared out of the speakers, people were dancing in traditional ballroom style in the open air, while others were sat on deck chairs soaking up the sun. We sat on the grassy bank nearby and enjoyed the atmosphere! That evening we said goodbye to Ollie 😦
An unbelievably fun weekend. We’d all move to Berlin tomorrow.