Monday, 5 December 2011


There's a special reason to visit Berlin at the moment: a museum exhibition called "Side by Side. Poland – Germany. A 1000 Years of Art and History at the Martin Gropius Bau. It ends on 9 January, so you'll have to hurry.

From 2011 12

It's the best single collection of artefacts and pictures from Poland that I have seen, probably because it contains specially selected items from a range of museums in Poland plus some German items. Entry costs 12 euros, which I reckon is worth it if you have the money, although we did have complimentary tickets.

The museum building is on the southern side of a remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

Now that the western section of the Polish motorway from Poznan to the German border has been opened, the journey by car between Warsaw and Berlin only takes six to seven hours and it is incredibly simple once you get on the motorway: keep going west until you get to the Berlin Centre road (the 113), carry on until you get to Templehof, where you turn right and drive straight into the centre. We stopped for a quick comfort break on Wilhelmstrasse just beside the Berlin wall section at the Martin Gropius Bau, though we didn't know it at the time: the white building on the right hand side below. The covered area is an exhibition of the remains of SS buildings from the war.

I must admit that I spent the whole of the first evening trying to figure out if we were in old West or East Berlin. I knew from the map that we were west of Checkpoint Charlie (by a couple of hundred metres), but the buildings looked communist style. It was only the next day that I found that the movement between East and West Berlin was from north to south.

McDonald's is just on the American side of the border, seen here from the Wall location to the north, marked on the ground.

A three day visit, including travelling, is really too short at the moment, given the short days and the potential, as we had, for wet and cold (but not freezing) weather. The light was pretty much gone by 5 o'clock.

However, we were happy walking a couple of kilometres in the dark, which took us to the eastern sights.

Such as the Berlin Wheel

A short detour by the river, as the first bridge was closed.

Our vantage point from the rooms we rented has us overlooking what appears to be some surviving buildings from the pre-war period: this being the soviet sector, north of the wall.

There was time to see some of the standard sights such as the Reichstag, which has special historic importance for Poland.

It is here that the Soviet and Polish flags hung together in the liberation of Berlin at the end of the Second World War ... maybe.

I don't know whether it was trick of the light, but my general impression of the colour of Berlin was creamy brown rather than the dull grey I would have expected in dark rainy weather. The leaves on the ground in the Tiergarten being a spectacular orangey brown.

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