Playgrounds, Trabi museum and Checkpoint Charlie
A monument to artist Käthe Kollwitz in the Platz by the same name
This morning we set off to explore some play grounds, after our children had breakfast and before we broke our fasts. Our first stop was the great park in Käthe Kollwitz Platz. The park is named after the artist who from her statue appears to have been fun-loving. There is a promising array of cafés and restaurants around the park but none were open at 9am. Our children enjoyed playing in the two playgrounds and we played a modified version of piggy in the middle with the football. We were all delighted to watch two red squirrels scurrying frantically around under and on the oak trees. Meanwhile 4 municipal staff either picked up rubbish or bludged the whole time that we were there. It seemed that people had placed excess Christmas rubbish in the park bins and the squirrels had been through the rubbish because the entire park was strewn with rubbish.
Apartments below the Wasserturm in Prinzlauer Berg
Our next stop was the Wasserturm in Prinzlauer Berg. This is the oldest water tower in Berlin and is no longer operational. We were very impressed by the playground facilities in the park surrounding the water tower. Children could easily be occupied for hours transporting sand up into wooden towers, as well as a lot of more typical play equipment. We had particular fun jumping on the two trampolines that are set into the ground.
The water tower is on the right
The sun was rising above the surrounding buildings while we were there and it was lovely to walk up to the tower and enjoy some sunshine.
Refugees welcome sign
Nearby we saw a nice sign in a shop doorway stating that refugees are welcome. While in Berlin I have been looking around for signs of the huge numbers of refugees that have arrived in Germany but we’ve seen very few.
On the walk back to our apartment we were delighted to explore a two story supermarket that exclusively sells organic food and drink! We bought some treats and tried not to think about returning to Trondheim on Sunday and the monotonous and unethical food that entails. After breakfast we headed to the Brandenburg Gate with the aim of spending a few hours exploring the huge park behind the gate. Unfortunately for us the park is closed in preparation for a new year’seve party presumably. Instead we explored the extensive monument to the Jewish people killed in Europe during the pogrom of Nazi Germany in WWII.
Huge monument to the killing of Jewish people of Europe in WWII
We headed to Potsdamer Platz and paid €15.50 for a family ticket to ascend the Panorama Punkt elevator to the viewing platform. It’s true that it offers uninterrupted views of Berlin but it’s not a beautiful city and a fear of heights prevented me from letting go of the inner wall so I definitely didn’t enjoy it. We did find the information boards interesting about the history of Potsdamer Platz under Soviet occupation, the building of the wall and the rebuilding of the site after the wall fell.
Back on solid ground we had delicious wurst from a stall in Potsdamer Platz. So delicious. We walked through the Berlin Mall on our way to Leipziger Straße. It was crowded and overestimating so we left as quickly as we could.
We passed the Bundesrat building (legislative).
I was interested to see the communist propaganda mural on the outside of a government building on the Soviet side of Leipziger Straße. Previously I’ve only seen posters in Poland and Czech Republic but this was a huge mural extolling the virtues of communism. It’s hard to imagine that it would have been very effective considering that it faced west Germany and I imagine that the propaganda bureau for East Germany must have worked harder than any other occupied territory.
Communist propaganda mural on the Soviet side of Leipziger Straße
Further along Leipziger Straße we stopped in a small and cheerful bar run by people from Dominican Republic. It was lovely in there and among the bright paintings of daily life in the Caribbean and the warmth it was possible to forget that it was cold dark winter in Berlin outside!
Our children showed interest in the Trabi museum so we paid €8 and escaped the cold and dark. The museum is very small but we enjoyed it. We saw a variety of Trabis, a rooftop tent and a caravan. The curators had thoughtfully setup one Trabi for visitors to ‘test’ and our children enjoyed driving with us squashed into the back seat. We watched a documentary about the history of the Trabant, including the invention of a composite material to use instead of steel on the exterior of the car. The engineers were ingenious in adapting to what was available and playing the communist system to gain permission to release new models.
Back out on Leipziger Straße we passed another museum to the Berlin Wall. I didn’t get to go into that one either then turned right to see Checkpoint Charlie.
Interesting monument near Checkpoint Charlie
We caught a train part of the way home then rather than catch two more we walked the rest of the way. It was nice to see Berlin at night and pass many nice and interesting looking restaurants. The surreal museum of industrial objects made me chuckle and think now I’m in the Berlin that my friends have told me about.