Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th August. Exploring Berlin by Bike and by foot - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 3 - CycleBlaze

August 14, 2019 to August 15, 2019

Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th August. Exploring Berlin by Bike and by foot

Wednesday we travel to the centre on our bikes having failed to find somewhere to have them serviced. The ‘Bike Dudes’ are more dude than bike as it turns out, telling us that they are flat out and have a 3 week waiting list. They looked pretty relaxed to us, but we don’t quibble and decide that we’ll look at a smaller centre further on. Meanwhile, we’ll use the bikes to tour the city. And this we do.

Landsberger Straße to Alexanderplatz. I notice Rosa Luxembourg Platz and recall the poem I would often teach that was a tribute to her. We find the Berlin Dom, Unter Den Linden, the Tiergarten and the Brandenburg Tor. Major construction for a new underground line makes access dodgy in places. We cycle past embassies to the Berlin Philharmonic where a memorial commemorates those with mental and other disabilities were executed during the Nazi era.  

It’s all a bit of a blur of impressions, but what a blur! Berlin is a gritty city, quite different from some of the chocolate boxy cities elsewhere in Germany.

Back to our temporary home, we crash for an hour of recovery until Christian suggests a walk. With Liam in his buggy and Enzo on a lead we take a stroll through through a local park, the oldest in Berlin, where exercise classes and volleyball games are happening- reasonably seriously. One volleyball group speak only English, a contrast to the vigorous German of another group. The park has the pleasant greenery and wildness of some London woods. We walk up a spiral route on a hill formed from wartime rubble. Then it’s downhill for dinner and an early night.

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Thursday. On Thursday we opt to visit some museums and so make use of Berlin’s very efficient tram service. The yellow tram M10  is the one we need and it’s certainly quick, and has plenty of seats free. We hop off at Eberswalde Straße and find the memorial to the wall, which is essentially a long walk along the site of the former Berlin Wall. At various points are photographs, information posts and commemorative references to those who died or were affected by the wall’s intrusion into ordinary lives.

Further on is an expanse of green, once occupied by St Sophie’s cemetery. A circular shaped commemorative chapel made of rammed earth, in which shards of pottery are visible was a particularly beautiful building.

Our next visit is to the Holocaust Memorial. The building is below ground, and above, the area is covered by a vast number of concrete stellae . To enter the memorial one walks between the blocks which are like a maze. The memorial is very moving and focuses on telling the wartime experiences of a number of Jewish families in different European countries.

It’s getting late but we’re keen to see the Museum of German history. It’s the kind of museum I like; quiet, after the traffic and tourists outside, lots of marble, slightly dim light and some really interesting exhibits of propaganda posters, footage from the Weimar Republic period as well as more modern material. Ann goes for the earlier period and catches up on Luther. 

We stay till closing at 6:00 then hurry back to make puttanesca sauce and spaghetti for dinner. I find a particularly smooth Australian Syrah and a Chianti at Netto and perversely opt for the Syrah for our meal.

It’s been a great day, and the knowledge that we’re leaving Christian, Franca, Liam and Enzo next day is a little sobering, but we thank them for a fantastic stay. They’ve explained a great deal that’s fascinating about living in Berlin and shared much about their backgrounds. It’s really been fun.

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Today's ride: 25 km (16 miles)
Total: 807 km (501 miles)

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Mary HutchingDid you go to the Museum of East Germany. Not sure if that's the exact name but was great look at life in the East.
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