Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 3: Thursday August 8, 2013

It was another exciting day for us in Berlin. We had scheduled a morning visit to the Reichstag, which holds German's national parliament, the Bundestag. Our reservation said that we wouldn't be allowed to visit the dome, which rests on the roof of the Reichstag, if there was inclement weather. It started to rain before we left, but stopped in time for us not to be late for our appointment to visit the dome.
Inside the Reichstag dome is a spiral ramp, which we walked up in order to look over Berlin. All visitors receive an audio guide upon entrance to the dome. The guides are coordinated to talk based on where you are standing. The panels on the ground let the guide know what to say, and what we looked for out of the dome's window. Aside from what you see out of the window, the guide also gives historical information about the Reichstag itself, and the other buildings you are looking at. It's a pretty cool experience and a great way to see the entire city of Berlin.
Once finished at the Reichstag dome, we headed for the Brandenburg gate, which we had seen briefly on the first day. Now that it was closer to the afternoon, the area around the gate was pretty crowded. Mickey Mouse even made an appearance at the gate.  The gate is surrounded by an art museum, the US Embassy, and most importantly, a Starbucks. The Brandenburg gate is the former gate to the city of Berlin, and a lasting symbol of the Prussian era. The gate is located in a central area of the city, near the famous Hotel Adlon and Unter den Linden, the Fifth Avenue of Berlin.
From Unter den Linden, we went to see Berlin's Holocaust Memorial. The memorial consists of a maze of large stone structures, which get larger as you walk further into the maze. When you first approach the memorial, it looks fairly small. Only when you walk into the maze do you realize its true size. Along with my dad and Sara, I walked into the maze and down into the museum portion of the memorial, which is in an underground bunker. The museum has one feature that was especially memorable. The "Wall of Names" is a dark room with projection screens on every wall. The screen shows the name of a Holocaust victim and the years in which they lived. As the person's name is shown on the screen, a voice reads the name and a short biography. It takes seven years to complete reading all Holocaust victims.
After finishing there (I'd had enough with the Holocaust for a few days), the five of us went to visit KaDeWe, one of the biggest department stores in the world. Other than all the prices being much much higher than our local WalMart, I didn't find KaDeWe all that fascinating, but my sister may have a different take on that. But there was an old sign outside the train station near KaDeWe which had the names of a number of concentration camps. Those types of things are everywhere to make sure the Germans don't forget.
After napping in the late afternoon, we found a nice Asian fusion restaurant near our hotel for dinner. No beer this time. There's always tomorrow.

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