Berlin - The Heart of Europe!

by nike50 

(from: Sep 14, 2010 to: Sep 14, 2010)

'It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.'- Rose Kennedy
Berlin is the heart of Europe; the inheritor of eastern and western European influences. Though if Europe were a runway, you won't find Berlin modeling the catwalk.
Not renowned for beauty, Berlin is a city of contrasts: often considered ugly, dirty, even violent in her image. Her face bears the scars of war and the tumultuous effects of change. This is the capital of Germany. Hers is an inner beauty: the resilient spirit of an over-comer. The inspiration of song, the Wall for her was a 'fact of life'.
Like a self-conscious debutante, Berlin captivates our heart with her multi-cultural diversity. Hers is a rich Bohemian rhapsody gracefully dancing to a modern, upbeat tempo. To know Berlin is ' to be' and ' to see' her as a Berliner.
She has withstood all would-be challengers: Prussians, Nazis, and Communists.
Leviticus 17:11, 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.'
For the heart to function properly, the four chambers must beat in an organized manner. The four heart chambers fill with and pump blood. In Berlin bled the revolutionary life of dissent that kept alive the hope of a nation beaten down by oppressors. Berlin is where East kisses West and mix heterogeneously. One-third of her 3.5 million inhabitants are incomers.*
*(An outsider who moves to a community or a place; not an original inhabitant).
Turkish rivals German as the everyday language of the streets in some parts of the city, and Berlin is host to many Slavic-speaking minorities. The dominant religion in this region of northeast Germany is Evangelical Lutheranism, but the immigrants to Berlin have brought their own faiths: Islam, Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity.
Like a heart, Berlin pulses with her links to the east, especially Poland and Russia, as well as western. Her eastern perspective has become even more important with the expansion of the European Union. Remember that the middle of Berlin is just an hour's drive from the Polish border.
Slow to embrace modern technologies, Berlin is not an affluent city and quite unlike other western European capitals. But inside Berlin beats the historic heart that traditionally was noted for eclectic commentaries and detached, impartial yet passionate writing that still feeds Europe today.
'Ich bin ein Berliner.'
There are many ways to get around Berlin. You can travel on bicycle; foot; bus; 'rickshaw'; S-Bahn; U-Bahn. See Berlin as the Berliners do. Half of Berlin's households don't own a car. Berliners like to bike. The city is flat, green and highly accessible via bike lanes. Even in mid-city the streets are quite safe.
'Bike the Berlin Wall'
Take a ride along seven miles - stop off to climb up one of the last border watch towers, complete with the original border fortifications. See where East Berliners desperately jumped from their roof tops to get into the West. Stop at Checkpoint Charlie and hear the gruesome stories of travel in and out of the Iron Curtain was for those at the time. Visit the Wall Museum. Enjoy the open air and definitely pick up some pieces of the Wall. Relax and enjoy a view of the platz via a window seat at Starbucks with the spectacular Brandenburg Gate in the background.
'Walk the Wall' - take a leisurely stroll and get an overview of the French, British, Ameican and Soviet sectors.
Take a tour of the Third Reich: visit Hitler's bunker, the Nazi Air Force Ministry, the SS and Gestapo HQ. Feel the bitter Cold War that was fought in the shadows of Berlin. Visit the museums for glimpses into the people, places and secrets that kept two worlds on the brink of World War III, and the Wall that separated them. From Ghost Stations, the Stasi Museum, and the only remaining complete section of the Wall.
Sachsenhausen, Concentration Camp Memorial -
Just outside the city limits stands a reminder of the darkest days of Berlin history: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Built in 1936 by slave labor, Sachsenhausen became the model that all other camps followed. It was a school of brutality, training guards for positions in other camps. By the end of WWII, over 50,000 people had died there. The tragic history continued from 1945-1950 when the new Communist occupiers followed in the Nazi footsteps and used the camp to detain political enemies. Thousands more perished during this period. Visiting Sachsenhausen is one of the most important things you can do on your visit to Berlin.
Jüdisches Museum Berlin and Holocaust Memorial - the most visited museum in Berlin displays 2000 years of Jewish history and culture in Germany.
Potsdam: the city of emperors -Berlin was the official capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire.
Glienicke Bridge connects the Wannsee with the City of Potsdam. The late neoclassical Glienicke Palace as well as the Pfaueninsel are nearby. Since 1990 these palaces and parks are part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most popular attraction in Potsdam is Sanssouci Park, built in 1744 by King Frederick the Great where he could live sans souci ('without worries'). The park hosts a botanical garden (Botanischer Garten Potsdam).Another landmark of Potsdam is the two-street Dutch Quarter (Holländisches Viertel), an ensemble of buildings that is unique in Europe, with about 150 houses built of red bricks in the Dutch style. It was built between 1734 and 1742 under the direction of Jan Bouman to be used by Dutch artisans and craftsmen who had been invited to settle here by King Frederick Wilhelm I. Today, this area is one of Potsdam's most visited districts.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. The damaged tower is a symbol of Berlin's resolve to rebuild the city after the war and a constant reminder of the destruction of war.
What tour is complete without its gastronomy? In Germany, life really is a move-able feast from the 'Schnell Imbiss' stands to the Turkish Quarter which is colorful, aromatically vibrant with the tastes and smells of doner kebabs.
There is something for everyone here! Come 'fall in love' with Berlin, the very heart of Europe.

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