Part of the impetus for our Eastern European itinerary (Berlin, Krakow, Vienna, Prague) was to visit places with strong sociopolitical significance. Politics have social conseqences people! Where better to understand that truism than learning of the extreme social consequences the political rise of Nazism, the resulting Holocaust, and subsequent Cold War? Given the uncanny and chilling parallels between Trump‘s rise to power and that of Hitler’s, it was a trip we felt we needed to make.
Our day began at the epicenter of the both the height and end of the Cold War: Checkpoint Charlie (now reduced to a photo opportunity where you can get a McFlurry off the Euro menu).
We knew Checkpoint Charlie would be disappointing but it would only have been more disappointing to have avoided it all together. Howver, the nearby Mauermuseum Museum Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie proved an interesting distraction from the rain. For all it’s eclectic, eccentric, and discombobulated curation is an important center and collection of artificts for preserving Berlin’s history, the Wall, the Cold War, and the pursuit of freedom, be it individuals and families escaping the DDR by slipping under the Iron Curtain, or by documenting organized politial struggles around the globe.
After the Mauermuseum we headed across the street to the Die Mauer Asisi Panorama. It was a pretty amazing work of art by Yadegar Asisi. Asisi created this massive 18-meter high perspective photo recreation of a ficticious day in the life of the Wall in 1989, looking East fromt the West. When you enter the room, and climb up to a 4-meter high viewing platform you get this curved perspective view that puts the panorammic photo into three dimentions. You truly feel you are there with the introduction of lights and sounds.
After Die Mauer Asisi Panorama we had a quick lunch at nearby Yarok Fine Syrian Foods from Damascus. Typically I wouldn’t mention this except this place had, hands down, the best and most fragrant falafal I have ever tasted. We all agreed. It was amazing. Go there.
The restaurant was right across the street from the Topography of Terror museum (which I’ll blog about later) located on the site where the State Secret Police (Gestapo), SS, and Reich Security had their offices. We spent a few hours there looking throught the meticulous documentation of the atrocities of the Nazi terror machine.
To lighten the mood we headed to Alexander Platz for a walk around the bustling area and then started walking towards Friedrichshain and found ourselves in Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin’s oldest park. We walked around the park enjoying the nearby neighborhood, curious statues and found great cafe in the park were we enjoyed a sunset glass of wine.
We ended our evening at Feuer and Flamme, a fondue restaurant in Friedrichshain.