We generally avoid cities but we made an exception for Berlin. There's too much history there to blow it off as just another big city. We found a place to stay through Warmshowers with a guy named Stefan who was preparing to leave on his own world bike tour. It was so fun for us to see this individual during his last week of work, terribly nervous yet unbelievably excited for what lays ahead, with brand new gear and definitely too much of it, with high hopes and expectations of what he'll see and experience on his journey and having read hundreds of bike touring books and blogs, thus feeling ready yet with questions galore. We remember having all of those emotions like it was yesterday; leaving all of your friends, family and comforts of home to take off into the unknown is not something one soon forgets.
We answered his questions and gave him any advice we could think of from our year on the road and passed on a little piece of superstition that was presented to us right before we left. “The demon bells” given to us by our friends Stephanie and Ethan is actually a motorcycle tradition but we like the idea for bicycles as well. The bell must be given to to you as a gift, placed on your bike by someone else and left there until it falls off. It will protect you from the demons of the road by scaring away those things that cause breakdowns and accidents, thus keeping you safe during your travels. Well, the demon bells are still jingling away on our bikes and have done a good job of keeping us safe so hopefully Stefan will have a long, safe journey himself.
Stefan and Mike having Berlin's famous Currywurst.
Berlin is a city full of museums, memorials, gigantic statues and old, powerful looking cathedrals. We spent 2 days visiting some of the sights including the East Side Gallery section of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin History Museum and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial. We barely touched the surface of seeing everything there is to see in Berlin, that would take weeks and would be way too depressing. There isn't much in the way of happy history surrounding this city. The unthinkable inhumanity that occurred there was disgusting, the cruelty of human beings leaves you with a heavy heart and the fact that it was so recent in our history only makes it that much more horrific.
I'm not going to say anything about each of the places we visited. We all know the history. The rest of this post is just pictures from around Berlin.
East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.