27 March 2010

The Reichstag Dome - Berlin [Day Three]

Having covered most of what I wanted to see in the first couple of days, I decided to check out the Reichstag dome.

The Reichstag Building was very important in the Nazi's taking complete control of the country - it was suspiciously burnt down in 1933, which gave Hitler 'emergency powers'. Many believe that Hitler organised to have the fire started to gain control of these emergency powers, which he then used to suspended most civil liberties.

The building itself was mostly destroyed in WWII, but rebuilt in the early 60's. It was not until 1990 that the German Parliament re-took its place in Germany's capital at the Reichstag building.

Anyway, back on track... The building has a massive glass dome on top, which gives amazing views over the city. Unfortunately the line is usually at least two hours long... When I arrived, I thought I was in luck; the line was relatively small. It turned out that there was ice on the roof and the dome was closed (gives you a feel for just how cold it was). Not my lucky day I guess.

22 March 2010

The Real Berlin [Day Two]

With a bit of a headache, I dragged myself out of bed at about 9:30am Saturday morning. My first destination for the day was Tacheles, which a friend told me I HAD to visit.

To get there I wandered through suburbia for about 15 minutes. Some of the areas seemed like noone had touched them since the war. There were old buildings falling down, grafiti, everything seemed run down. But at the same time, the whole place seemed very safe, people were friendly, there were no dodgy characters lurking around. Walking further I found historic buildings in what seemed like completely random spots - the old post office building and the New Synagogue. And just down the road an area that was new and well developed - nice stores, clean streets etc. It was strange seeing such contrast in such a small area.

18 March 2010

Arriving in Berlin [Day One]

I have been back in London for two days now, and am still feeling jaded. It may be the lack of sleep / abundance of alcohol during the long weekend away, or maybe I’m just depressed about leaving one of the most awesome cities I have ever visited.

As I have a lot of trips planned for the next 12 months, I'm not a fan of taking days off work. After speaking with friends I decided Berlin was worth taking a day, giving myself a long weekend to check the place out. Having such a short time, I was not about to waste a second, so booked a flight departing at 6am Saturday morning. I had two options; either try to get to the airport at some stupid hour in the morning, or travel out Friday evening and spend the night. I chose the latter, and soon discovered it was, without doubt, the wrong choice. Sure, I saved myself a bit of stress the following morning, and potentially could have gained a couple of hours sleep; potentially being the key word here. Even though I had a semi-sheltered spot, I think I had about 3 hours of interrupted sleep. It was NOT fun.

Another trip, another RyanAir flight. I’m beginning to get to know some of the stewardess’s on a first name basis. I arrived at 9am local time, and jumped on the metro which was conveniently located right outside the airport. Good work, Berlin! Within an hour I was standing right outside the Brandenburg Gate. Not wasting any time, I joined the Sandemans free walking tour. I definitely recommend these guys – I have been on about six of their tours now and have found them really interesting. They work on tips-only, which is good for those on a budget.

5 March 2010

A Giants Causeway - Northern Ireland [Day Two]

Up early on Sunday morning, I opened the curtains and could only see white - it was snowing so hard! It looked amazing, but was dreading heading out into the cold. After a quick shower I braved the weather, heading to the meeting spot for my 'Paddy Wagon' tour. I arrived at the Europa Hotel (the most bombed hotel in Europe) about 10 minutes early - having just enough time to get a nice greasy breakfast.
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