Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 19, 2010

Amsterdam, Berlin and Krakow

So the evening after I sent the last email we had a delicious dinner and then I wandered around the red light district with another couple of people from the tour group. They were a bit older than me so it probably looked like I was checking out prostitutes with my parents. Of course, at times we were commenting on the boots that they were wearing and that a lot of them looked bored. I guess you probably couldn’t sit there in your undies reading a book.

The next day we had a pretty early start catching the train to Berlin. After a reasonably long journey we got to our hostel in the former east side, then we had a wander along the East Side Gallery, part of the wall with some amazing murals. Managed to get into a restaurant about 30 seconds before it started raining, although a few people in our group were so into the menu that they didn’t notice.

The next day we had a fantastic tour around Berlin with a really enthusiastic guide who took us through the history of the Imperial Times, through both World Wars and to the Cold War and the separation of Berlin. A lot to take in, but really well presented and some very interesting sites and memorials along the way. Kind of bizarre though that Hitler’s bunker is really just marked by a sign in a car park. After the tour finished we went to the Jewish Museum which was a combination of a historical museum and an art gallery with some fantastic installations. The entire building left you with a disorientated feeling, which was probably deliberate, but well worth seeing. That night it was more German food (at least I’m doing lots of walking!) and shopping for some amusingly named chocolates.

The following day we headed off early to a flea market which had some great crafty things but also some weird stuff and junk. We did stumble on a load of photo albums and spent a bit of time looking at some other people’s holiday snaps. Then (after some yummy Turkish food for lunch) we went to the Wall Museum which had some videos, pictures of the walls being built and some stories about the guards and other security measures. We then went to the Topography of Terror, an outdoor exhibition on the SS and Gestapo, although it was freezing!!! And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. After that we visited Checkpoint Charlie (or the rebuilt version anyway!) and the museum there, which was a bit chaotically put together but had some interesting escape stories.

Yesterday we went on another fantastic tour of Berlin, an alternative tour, which took us to a load of underground sites. There were only three of us on it so it was pretty personal. We saw loads of graffiti art, went to a bombed train depot, a beach on the river, past some squats and to an old bombed department store which is now an artists hangout. Very interesting stuff. Then it was onto an overnight train to Krakow. Didn’t get much sleep but what do you expect?

This morning we got into Krakow fairly early and had a wander around the town. As it’s got later the town has got busier and we had to detour around the main square because it was full of a parade and people mourning for the Polish President and other dignitaries. This afternoon we’re off to some salt mines and then Auschwitz tomorrow, which will probably be pretty intense.

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