Day 284 to Day 293
31.10.2013 - 09.11.2013 10 °C
Once Leah’s Mum left us, we spent a further five days in Paris. We toured some of the local sights we had missed such as the Sacré Cœur.
We also went on a day trip to the Somme. We took an early train to Ameins where we were picked up by our guide. Our first stop was Villers-Bretonneux. The day included visits to Le Hammel, Thiepval, New Foundland Battlefield (which in our opinion was the best kept battlefield site) Pozieres, and Bullecourt. The second last stop of the day was to Hermies where we saw the grave of Rein’s Great Great Uncle who died at the front in April 1917. It was a touching day out.
Our final day in Paris we went out to lunch at Brasserie Lipp, a 130 year old traditional Parisian restaurant Leah’s dad recommended to us.
Our next trip was a flight to Berlin (now one of our favourite places), where we spent a week. After arriving in Berlin at 2pm and not really having eaten for the day we found a small very traditional pub serving traditional German food which was great for our hungry stomachs. We both had schnitzels and beer (and we went back twice more for dinner!!).
Our week in Berlin was a busy one. We started at the Sunday flea market; the biggest and best we had been to on this trip. On a Sunday the majority of shops in Berlin and the rest of Germany are closed, including supermarkets, so the flea market was packed with people eating and drinking whilst shopping on the very cold day (about 5 degrees).
On Monday we went on a walking tour of Berlin, spending most of our time in the East side of Berlin. The East side of Berlin has a very eclectic and bohemian feel to it, and it is funny to think how fashionable it is now. On our walking tour we visited many of the well-known sites of Berlin such as the university where Nazi supporters burnt books on the forecourt, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker (or the ground on top of where it used to be), the Holocaust Memorial, and of course the Brandenburg Gates.
We had heard that on Tuesday’s at lunchtime the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performed a free concert (which usually can cost upwards of 100 euros). So on Tuesday we decided to try and get into this performance; however, as we decided to walk and it was on the other side of Berlin (Berlin is quite a spread out city) and we arrived about 5 minutes after it was supposed to begin. Needless to say we were not able to get in as it was at capacity. So it was a disappointing start to the day; however, we roamed around Berlin and looked at some second hand shops.
On the Wednesday we visited the East Side Gallery; for those of you who either haven’t been to Berlin or don’t know it is the largest stretch of the Wall left that many artists have decorated. After this we strolled back towards out hostel and grabbed a great lunch at a butcher. This may sound strange but many butchers in Germany also serve hot food. Rein enjoyed a very large serve of rissoles with sauerkraut and potatoes whilst Leah had a schnitzel, sauerkraut and potatoes. These meals were massive and were under 5 euros each, bargin!
Thursday we decided to have a rest day (we needed it after all of our walking!) and then headed out for a late lunch at the most famous and reportedly best currywurst (sausages with a tomato sauce poured over them and then curry powder spread on top) place in Berlin. It was a smallish hole in the wall place under an overpass with a few chairs and tables to sit and enjoy your currywurst. Again, a very good value for money lunch, Berlin turned out to be quite cheap for food.
Around the corner from our hostel was the memorial to the Berlin Wall. It was a great memorial and very well thought out. You could climb a tower and view the wall and the ‘death strip’ (the area between the outside wall and inside wall – two walls were eventually built in places to deter people from escaping). After climbing the tower we walked through the ‘death strip’ and looked at one of the last remaining roads in Berlin still to be cut off from the building of the wall (it was never reopened once the wall fell).
It’s hard to imagine that just under 25 year ago Berlin was reborn from two fractions. They have not shied away from the dark past, erecting various monuments to the different ethnic groups affected by the Nazi and Soviet occupations. We then left Berlin and travelled to London, our last time this trip that we will be in continental Europe.