Started day with bus tour led by “Matty” who worked for 80s radio station Berliner Rundfunk. He took us to another remaining section of the Berlin Wall where artists painted murals in sections – famous image of Brezhnev (Soviet) kissing the East Berlin leader on the mouth. Heard a local man playing an accordion and saying “Hallo! Danke!” Matty told us about famous escape attempts during the Cold War including a family who secretly built a hot air ballooon only to land just short still on the east. They had to rebuild even more secretly, but eventually made it across. The wall went up overnight without warning. Even soldiers skipped out at the last minute across the barbed wire. Families were separate and I think he said up to 4000 children who were spending the night at a relatives or elsewhere were separate from their parents. Another interesting story was about a man who was separate from his girlfriend. He was in the west and started dating a woman who looked a lot like his girlfriend who was trapped in the east. He suggested a day trip to the east, stole her passport, left her there and returned with his girlfriend. Two months later he was arrested for kidnapping.
Stopped at Saw Reichstag and learned about how Hitler used the fire to blame communists and enact police state powers, blocking out oppositional voices.
Brandenburg gate where Napoleon marched through, later Hitler, and later Reagan’s famous speech. Next to it was a Starbucks and the hotel where MIchael Jackson dangled his baby from the balcony.
Ate a meat wrap at outdoor market and fresh orange juice, then sat in Italian cafe by the window. Tried to go to the top of the needle tower (and gift from the Soviets to Berlin, similar slightly larger tower in Russia to show “mother” country relationship). The wait was 1.5 hours to top so we did not go. On the way we were stopped by a girl who wanted to trade for a lighter. We suspected she was a pickpocket or trying to distract us, so we quickly moved on.
Pergemon museum – saw Ishtar gate. The altar was closed for renovations. Walking on the way to dinner – we passed Angela Merkel’s home. One police car outside. Lives on second floor of place she has owned since age 21. Refuses to live in state residence because she believes a leader must live humbly to act humbly or else risk losing touch with the common person. Ate dinner at restaurant and stopped by a local grocery store on the way home.