Just got back from a quick weekend trip to Berlin. Berlin is a city of 3.5 million people and was once famously divided by the Berlin Wall.

It is quite amazing to visit a city that, in many ways, has re-invented itself in the last 25 years. Since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the city has had the opportunity to reunify, but also to rebuild. With the East lagging behind in freedoms, but also construction, there were many opportunities for Berlin to flourish as of late. And even despite the great divide, it is very easy to use transit throughout Berlin to get to where you need.  Renting a car really isn’t necessary as the city is close to the airport, and also the main city sights are very well connected by train, subway and bus. 

Throughout Berlin you will still see parts of the Berlin Wall.  Some are in museums while others are in office buildings and other pieces are just throughout the city. Thankfully, there is actually a brick path where the wall once stood so you can see how much the city has developed, but also where the city was torn apart.

Checkpoint Charlie, the famous checkpoint in central Berlin, is now just a rebuilt tourist building in the middle of the city (where it originally stood). To see the original checkpoint you have to go into one of the museums. That being said, it was somewhat fitting to see a sign saying you are leaving the US Sector, at the checkpoint, and see a McDonalds right there.

There is no shortage of things to do in Berlin. Most have to do with its history, either in WW2, the Berlin Wall or how the city has developed. That being said, one of the most shocking sights was the concentration camp Sanshenhausen. It is outside of Berlin, but it is connected by subway and a bus, or you can walk about 20 minutes from the subway. So it is about one hour out of the downtown area.   It was surprising to actually see one of these concentration camps.  You don’t realize until you see one, just the size of them. These were huge camps to hold thousands of people who had lost all their rights and freedoms just because of their religion. People could only go to the bathrooms at certain times of day and could always see freedom over the walls, but never able to get to that freedom. Perhaps even more surprising was that these camps also had a separate prison within them for people who misbehaved or were were enemies of the nazis. While at the camp you also learn all the various, and sad ways, that the Nazis had found to kills people. Although shower/gas chambers are the famous ways, it was not unheard of for people to be killed in bunkers by being shot from above, or taken out in cars that were pumped fully of Carbon Dixoide. While many of this will never experience a fear and life like this, it reminds us all to remember these mistakes and think about those living in areas of Civil War.

Berlin is now a world class city with no shortage of things to do for everyone and an active night life.  If you get a chance to visit Berlin you must