Well waking up this morning was fun. I found some things I had unknowingly misplaced the night before and went out to do some laundry around 8:00am. Not sure why but if I drink, I never sleep in very late the next day.
Around 11:00am I caught up with Sam and Tom and we did a bike tour of the city with a company called ‘Fat Tire’.
It was pretty well done. The tour lasted about 4.5 hours and we stopped halfway through at a beer garden to grab some lunch. We hit all the major sites, the TV tower, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Jewish Memorial, etc. On the tour, I learned some interesting things about life in East Berlin, as well as Nazi Germany.
On May 10th, 1933 there were massive book burnings in a literary ‘cleansing’ of non-German books across Germany. In Berlin, nearly 20,000 books were burned. To remember this, there is an underground room full of bookshelves near the main street in Berlin, Unter den Linden.
In 1820, as ominous foreshadowing, the German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine said, “When they burn books, they will also burn people.” (shown on the pictures below)
(For those interested in photography, the pictures below show the effect of using a polarizing filter. It’s one of the few filters that can’t be duplicated in post-processing and you can see how much more detail there is if you use one.)
Most of Berlin was destroyed in World War II so very few things in the city are more than 100 years old. You can still get a sense of what it was like in East Berlin with some of the remaining architecture and buildings.
After the tour, I went back to the hostel and fell asleep for a couple hours. Once I woke up, I took the bike I rented back into the city and took some pictures as the sun was setting.
Tomorrow I am planning on going to the Topography of Terror museum, the Pergamon museum, and then back and spending a little bit more time at Checkpoint Charlie. I saw most of the sights on the bike tour, but I’d like to go back and get some better pictures throughout the week.