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Berlin, Germany : Trip Report
Current weather in Berlin, Germany:
One of the first things I noticed about Germany was that almost everyone spoke at least a little English. I did buy some cassettes and a book to help me learn at least a few phrases. They came in handy but not as often as I thought they would. As far as being a tourist the books I picked up in the USA weren't nearly as helpful as this small book on Berlin I found in Berlin titled Berlin City Guide published by Kunstverlag Edm. V. Konig, Heidelberg/Dielheim. I also picked up a pamphlet from the Severin + Kühn City-Circle Sightseeing bus operator. I found the tour to be helpful to get familiar with where things are but most helpful was the city bus and train map on the back of the brochure!
Our hotel was located on a street called Kurfürstendamm, which to me looks very similar to Michigan Ave. here in Chicago. It contains hotels, restaurants and mostly high end shops.
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Charlottenburg Palace and Egyptian Museum
Our bus tour allowed us to get off and on all day at any of over a dozen sites. We were feeling lazy so we stayed on but when we got to the Egyptian Museum we had to get off and check it out. There was Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Castle) built in 1695 as a summer residence across the street that we visited first. The Egyptian Museum is where the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti is housed. It is in remarkably good shape considering it is displayed exactly as it was found in 1912!
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The Tiergarten is the city's largest park and home to several monuments. Right in the middle of the park is the Column of Victory. Nearby are also a Bismarck Memorial, Castle Bellevue (the seat of the Federal President), the House of World Cultures, and much more.
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Brandenburg Gate and Parliament Building
On the east end of the Tiergarten is the famous Brandenburg Gate. It's famous because this used to be the main entrance to the city and the route the king used to go to his hunting grounds in the Tiergarten. It also did stand pretty much on the site of the Berlin Wall. Also nearby is the Parliament building.
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Checkpoint Charlie is just one of the checkpoints after World War II where you could pass from the American sector of Berlin to the Russian sector.
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Potsdamer Platz is an area of the city that was once one of the widest section of Berlin Wall. After it was torn down there was a lot of land in the middle of the city ripe for redevelopment. Since this was a large plot of land it attracted large projects.
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Berlin is famous for its numerous high quality museums. One guide book I used claimed Berlin has around 150 museums. I don't know if I believe that but there sure are a lot. Most of the better museums are on or near an island in the Spree River known as Museum Island.
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I grouped several spots I visited in East Berlin other than Museum Island under Alexanderplatz as I didn't spend that much time there. Alexanderplatz is a large square in the middle of that part of the city that contains several sites including the Television Tower, Church of St. Mary, Red City Hall and the Neptune Fountain.
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On my way home to Chicago from Berlin I had a 6 hour layover in London. I certainly wasn't going to sit around Heathrow for 6 hours. Since looking at Concordes will only amuse me for so long I found some maps and asked around and found I can take the London Underground to central London. From there I can walk to some key sites and catch the train back.
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