Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bears, The Reichstag and Legoland

On Sunday we headed back into town for another day of touring Berlin and entertaining the kids.

First we visited the bear display that winters in a large train station.  It reminded me of Chestnut Hill’s Zoozapalooza.  The kids counted them – 170 strong, each representing a different nation.  Below I feature, USA, ?, France and Moldova – since I loved their bears!

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We then went over to the Reichstag.  It is the seat of government for the country.  We did not have to wait on the long line to get in, since we have kids.  This older building has a beautiful modern dome within it (see left).  When you enter the new section you can get headsets and walk a glass encased ramp to see views of the city – and they explain what everything is.  It was very interesting, although the snow obscured our views somewhat – can you find the Brandenburg Gate?

The mirrors (shown center) are used to heat and light the legislative chambers.

 

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WResized_HPIM4769e then passed the Spree river.  This section was part of the border between East and West Germany and the Resized_HPIM4774crosses represent those shot and killed trying to escape at this spot.  We loved how the river was filled with ice floes.Resized_HPIM4775  We discovered how no remnant of the Berlin Wall remains downtown save a subtle line made in bricks where it once ran.  It was incredible how this line, which kept popping up, went though the middle of buildings, streets and everything else you could imagine.  It’s as if the wall never was there – and yet it has only been gone for 20 years….

Resized_HPIM4776We passed the Brandenburg gate but there is a large film festival in Berlin andResized_HPIM4781 it was hard to get a good photo!  I did enjoy reading about it.  After it was first built, the central (largest) portal was reserved for the king while commoners had to use the side openings.  Also, I thought it was impressive that, during the time that Napoleon conquered Berlin, he had the gate dismantled and brought back to Paris as a sign of his utter triumph.  In later years, when he was defeated, the citizens of Berlin demanded it be returned – and so it was.  Seems kind of bulky for that kind of thing, doesn’t it?  Resized_HPIM4787Resized_HPIM4792

Walking on, we passed the memorial to the Jewish victims of the German Holocaust.  It reminded me of a large cemetery, except all the gravestones were of varying heights.  People were throwing snowballs at each other and playing all through it. It would have been a good laser tag venue.  I didn’t like it at all, can you tell?

We had a hard time finding a lunch place and passed several taxi stands.  Al the taxis here are beige Mercedes with leather interior, very high class.  It was just impossible to find anything near the Pompidou center (shown below – the cool umbrella thing) so we took a train to grab a bite.  You can see Griffin loves his Knockwurst!

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It was valentines day (which is not a big deal in Europe) and I thought it was funny that one company was handing out heart shaped balloons listed “Happy Valentine”.  If you are going to use English – at least do it right!

We were finally headed toward what the kids had been waiting for- Legoland!  It was a theme park type place all made of Legos.  There was a little roller coaster, a climbing structure, 3-D movies, and lots and lots and lots of Legos to build with. Little ones, big ones and everything in-between.   It was expensive but the kids loved it.  My favorite part was the amazing Lego models of the major sights of Berlin.  Zander wants to work here when he grows up.

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