In the previous installment of our honeymoon travelogue, Cori and Ryan get a yeti.
Our time in Demark was short-lived — after our trip to LEGOLAND, we hopped in the car and headed to Berlin. This was awesome because Ryan got to drive our new Volvo on the Autobahn when we entered Germany.
Even though I later drove on the Autobahn, Ryan is definitely the best person to describe the experience. Here is how it went, in his own words:
The Autobahn, a bucket list item, blew up all my expectations. First, its not a single road, it’s a series of freeways. Most of the highways throughout Germany are part of the Autobahn. Second, without fail, you could expect to hit construction on the Autobahn and have your speed limits drop to below the speeds legally traveled in Oregon. Third, the rules of the road are obeyed meticulously, and drivers are very aware of what they are doing. If changes in speed are happening somewhat quickly, emergency flashers pop on. Fourth, driving at high speed like that puts you into a sort of tunnel vision where you almost resist the warnings to slow down (hence the aids of emergency flashers and such). Finally, cruising around at 100+ is every bit as glorious as you’d expect; just watch out for those locals that will come up on your tail driving over 130!
We decided that the main rule on the Autobahn is “don’t be scary.” Follow that rule, and all goes well.
Driving fast didn’t last forever, and we hit the first major traffic of our entire trip. It took us forever to get into Berlin because of the gridlock. We were both surprised by rougher look of Berlin after how pristine both Norway and Denmark were. After our long drive, we were thankful to get to our hotel. My parents gifted us a Marriott hotel room in every city with a Marriott (thanks Mom and Dad!!), and this was our first — the Courtyard Berlin City Central.
Problem was, they couldn’t find our reservation. They suggested that perhaps we were staying at the less-fancy Marriott somewhere outside of downtown (clearly they thought, “Whatever you ragamuffins. This is a Marriott for fancy people.” But in a German accent.) We found our reservation and they realized they were spelling George without the final “e” — and that we are Platinum Members (well, my parents are). And, hey look at that, they upgraded us to a suite! Lucky us!
That evening, we walked down to a nearby restaurant district and I had the first of many delicious German meat products. Germany does meat better than anyone. We ate outside as the sun was setting and it was lovely, lovely, lovely.
The next morning, we worked our way to the Alexanderplatz for our bike tour! My brother and SIL suggested doing a Fat Tire Bike Tour — they had done them in London, Barcelona, and Paris. Best recommendation!
We had the BEST time on our tour with our tour guide Kyla and the other people on our tour. Hi Kyla!
We were told to choose a bike that spoke to our spirit animal. Ryan chose Gorbachev (heh), and mine was Shwarma (yum).
The tour lasted nearly six hours and took us all over Berlin. Being on a bike was such a great way to see the city. We learned so much about the history of Berlin (mostly WWII and the time following with East and West Germany). Tons of facts, details, and jokes. Kyla was SO GOOD. And we ate bratwurst and drank beer in the Tiergarten. I can’t recommend this tour highly enough!!
Here are a few of the places we saw on our bike tour:
Humboldt University — this was the site of the largest Nazi book burning. We probably shouldn’t be so happy here:
A guard tower — guards watched the Berlin Wall from up here, making sure no one escaped into West Germany. There are only a handful of these left:
The Berlin Wall (again looking too happy for the background):
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was one of the most haunting and fitting memorials I’ve ever been to. I can’t tell you how oppressive and somehow beautiful it was. Lot’s of controversy surrounding it, but I thought it was very well done:
We had beer and brats in the Tiergarten at this really great little biergarten. Got to know some of our fellow bikers. One Canadian girl was spending a few months abroad by herself! Go her! Pardon the lines on this photo — apparently it didn’t like the import process:
The Concert House:
Victory Column, which is covered in gold cannons:
The Reichstag, which was a pretty amazing amalgamation of old and new. We also loved how everyone was hanging out on the lawn. Europeans hang out on lawns well:
And last but not least, the Berlin Cathedral (which is not as old as it looks):
That night we went to the Brandenburg Gate — we were told to see it at night. Lots of cool history around the gate. Loved this tale: Kyla told us that President Bush asked to move the gate 5 feet to the right so there could be more security at the US Embassy. Really? That takes some cajones, Mr. President. Clearly Germany turned down his request to move the 200-year-old giant gate. Duh.
I loved seeing all the strange things at the gate — it’s like the German version of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in LA. For instance, Darth Vader was there:
We ate ice cream and watched the sun set and it ended up being one of my favorite nights of our entire trip.
On our walk back to our hotel, we passed a dealership with this car. Ryan asked, “What kind of car is this?” And without skipping a beat I answered “Veyron.” This is one reason he loves me so much.
The next day, we went back to some of the places we’d seen on our bike tour that we thought would be interesting to tour more extensively.
We visited Checkpoint Charlie (named for being the third checkpoint, Alpha and Beta being the first two). We also went into the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which was amazing and overwhelming. More information than could ever fit in my brain!
I always had a scattering of knowledge of East and West Germany, and I vaguely remember watching the Wall fall on TV in 1989. The bike tour and the museum did an incredible job of bringing all my puzzle pieces of knowledge into one cohesive picture. The whole story is so much more complete for me now.
We walked through the Topography of Terror, a museum that showed how Hitler came to power. It also runs along a portion of the Berlin Wall that still stands. The whole thing is very well done, highly informative, and deeply disturbing.
And for a bit of levity, there were a ton of Trabi cars — relics of the Soviet occupation, now used for tourists. They were the most colorful cars ever!
I acted like a Berlin bear at some point:
We walked past the Berlin Tax Offices (I think?), the former headquarters of the Luftwaffe. The building is so long that a single-engine plane can land on the roof.
We went out to lunch at a lovely little cafe along the river — I feel very European in this photo.
We had just an hour before the Pergamon Museum closed, but we paid our entrance fee because we wanted to see the Gates of Babylon and the Alter of Pergamon (which may be what John referred to as “the seat of Satan” in Revelation). Fascinating to see both ancient wonders and other Cool Old Stuff. Actually, an hour was a good amount of time to see what we wanted to see.
It was nice to spend three nights in one place! Especially a nice place in a suite! The next morning we left Berlin and headed to Prague — with stops in Potsdam and Wittenburg along the way!
In the next installment of our honeymoon travelogue, Cori and Ryan stare at some doors. And a clock.