Day 2: Monday, September 17

A Small Introduction to Berlin

We were up at about 8:00 a.m. to enjoy an amazing HUGE breakfast at the  Arco Hotel: obviously Germans actually eat more than a sprig of parsley and a cappuccino in the mornings – what a change from Paris! Extremely plentiful and absolutely delicious.

After breakfast we walked up to Wittenbergplatz (one of the cities largest public squares), and pondered the numerous naked statues there:

Our goal in Wittenbergplatz was to buy tickets for the Hop On/Hop Off bus; the tour company’s booth was located right outside KaDeWe, which is the second largest department store in Europe after Harrods in London:

We found the tour bus rep, and bought “Berlin City Tour” tickets for both “A” and “B” lines (“B” was the extended tour). We took the full “A” tour, then the full “B” tour;  all in all, about three and a half hours long.

We had a very enjoyable extended stop at the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain to see the artwork on the remains of the Berlin Wall:

The remains of a Berlin Wall guard tower
Outside the Berlin Wall this woman was entertaining her daughter by making huge bubbles

Before rejoining the “A” tour, we took a self-guided tour of the old Moabit Prison behind the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central train station):

Rejoining the “A” tour bus to complete the full loop, we returned to the beautiful Kurfürstendamm (the “Champs-Élysées of Berlin”) and disembarked at the KaDeWe where our journey began earlier in the day.

We then located the “The Story Of Berlin” museum at Kurfürstendamm 207-208 and spent several hours touring the exhibits, including a fascinating half-hour tour of the nuclear bomb shelter deep underneath the Berlin city streets (had a quirky, no-nonsense German girl for our guide). This was the coolest experience!:

After exiting the underground bunker we returned to The Story of Berlin above ground, taking in the fascinating displays chronicling the history of the city:

It was getting late so we decided to call it a day. As we left the museum we suddenly realized it was 6:30 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We sought out a restaurant and settled on a steakhouse called Maredo located on the Ku’Damm (Ku’Damm is the local abbreviation for the beautiful avenue Kurfürstendamm). The food at the Maredo was fantastic! We later learned that Maredo is a chain steakhouse restaurant across many parts of Europe; excellent quality for a chain, though.

After dinner we left the restaurant and walked along the Kurfürstendamm. We stopped at a souvenir shop and bought some souvenirs, then found the Ampelmann store where Vince secured some very fun (and quirky) Ampelmann stuff. To read more about the history and significance of the Ampelmann, a holdover from East German culture, click here.

It was around 8:30 p.m. by this time. Feeling very tired after a long day, we headed back to the hotel for the evening where we uploaded the daily pictures, rested, then headed off to bed.

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