Europe Day 3 – The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery)

The next morning we went back to the same café for tea and croissants, and after a quick trip to the supermarket for some water we headed out from Nollendorfplatz on the metro. The aim for today was to visit the Charlottenburg palace and the botanical gardens – not much, but we thought it might take a while to get to these places. For the majority of the day I didn’t manage much more than limping around on blistered feet from the previous days wander around town so it wasn’t that easy going from one place to the next.

Adding new artwork to the Berlin Wall

For our first stop of the day we headed over to what we saw on the map was labelled as “The East Side Gallery”. We’d heard from the receptionist at the hotel that some of the old wall was definitely still standing there so we thought it’d be a great idea to head over there after our failed attempt to find it the day before. As we weren’t sure what to expect we were a little surprised to find the gallery was a wall… no fancy memorial or anything, just an old damaged wall full of graffiti. Then it dawned on us – this was the Berlin wall, the symbol of oppression and of mistrust during the Cold War; it had been left to fall into disrepair. We walked along the wall taking many photographs and video of it as we went along admiring the work of the graffiti artists. It’s quite impressive how much of it is left there, but whilst we were there they were restoring some sections of it and getting artists to create new artwork on it. I understand that the wall needs to be prepared, but I think it’s wrong having “proper” artwork on there instead of graffiti – that’s part of it’s charm.

The Charlottenburg Palace

Unfortunately our first stop of the day didn’t go according to plan. We wanted to go to the Charlottenburg Palace next so we took the metro and changed a few times until we got to the station which was called Charlottenburg. We wandered around trying to find our way to the Palace, however we just couldn’t seem to find it. So I took a look at my map to find out we were actually no where near the Palace – you would have thought that a station with the same name as the Palace would actually be somewhere close to the Palace. When we finally found the correct stop it was only 900 metres from the stop. The outside of the building is quite impressive to look at – it looks like any period house would in the UK – the sort you’d expect to see protected by the National Trust or English Heritage. Unfortunately it seems we had wasted our time as most of the house itself was closed off for some repair work which was going on. As unfortunate as it was we did have a brief wander around the grounds, but didn’t see much of them. To fully see the entire palace when it’s open I’d estimate it requiring a full morning to do so.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

A few trains later we got to another square where we needed to switch to a bus in order to the Botanical Gardens. We were told to take the bus going in one direction and to get off after 2 stops. After passing 4 stops we hadn’t seen anything which looked like it might be the botanical garden so we got off and headed back in the other direction in case the tourism place had mistaken their right for their left – as it turned out there was nothing in that direction either. Fortunately on the way back to the square we noticed a sign which was pointing towards the Botanical Garden, so we followed it for a few hundred metres.

Edible Frog (Rana Esculenta)

I was starting to get the impression that this other road was curving round and starting to run parallel with the road we had taken the first time – as it turns out I was right. We eventually came to a locked gate which said “Botanischer Garten” on it, but there seemed to be no way in. Just as we were about to give up, someone turned up to go through the gate – so we asked how we get in and whether or not it was open. To which we were asked “Are you students?” – I guess she may have thought this as we were probably a little studious looking with us both having backpacks. We were told there was an entrance for visitors slightly further down the road.

Once into the garden the first thing that hits you is the vastness of the place and the diversity of the plants they have there. For example, there is an entire section which is a dedicated arboretum with many different types of tree. There’s also a fair bit of wildlife there in the summer as well. Whilst there we saw red squirrel, various birds, edible frogs, and a four-spotted Chaser dragonfly. The frogs are located in a pond just outside the massive “greenhouses” that they have and produce the most amazingly loud noise.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula Quadrimaculata)

After having wasted so much time trying to find the gardens we found time was short, and so after a quick walk around the greenhouses we made our way to the front-entrance where the museum was. Unfortunately as we got there the museum was closing so we never did get to see what sort of exhibits they have in a plant museum, but I’m sure they would have been interesting. Anyone visiting the gardens I think would need a full afternoon there, or possibly the full day if you’re an avid fan of wildlife or plants.

That evening we decided it was time to have an evening meal away from the hotel and went to an Argentinian Steakhouse. I thought it was a very “Americanised” place, but the food wasn’t too bad.with various types of sausage, including one called a currywürst.

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