It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a travel post. This year has just been insane both personally and professionally; by July 1 I had already traveled more than 100,000 miles. I’ve never traveled this much in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it, but in doing so I have not had any time to write. So here’s my first real travel post for 2014, and hopefully I will be able to go back and write about my trip to Australia earlier this year. Here goes:
If I remember correctly, Berlin was the first European city I visited with family back in the late seventies. We were there to visit my uncle and his family. It was wintertime, and all I could remember was snow everywhere. We went back to visit twice in the 90s, and my last trip was in 2001. For many reasons, this city holds a lot of meaning for our family. I decided to visit Berlin this year as I wanted to walk down memory lane once more, but this time without my uncle, who passed away almost ten years ago. I didn’t want to disturb my aunt, as she and my cousins had not been in touch with us, and we’ve never been close to them (not for any particular reason though). So this trip would be my first opportunity to explore the city on my own.
I landed at Tegel airport after a tiring four flights (San Francisco-Houston-London-Frankfurt-Berlin, that’s a story for later), and the place seems to have stopped in time. The airport departures and arrivals signage still had the flap display from as far back as I could remember. There is a feeling of familiarity as I walked through the airport terminal to catch the bus to the Swissôtel Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm, or commonly known as the “Ku’damm”, which is the main thoroughfare in the western part of the city. I settled into a comfortable room on the 8th floor with a wonderful view of the Ku’damm, and after resting a bit, I was determined to go for an evening walk – all the way to the Brandenburger Tor (Gate).
The walk didn’t take very long from the hotel to the Gate, it was just that I had to walk around the Tiergarten, which was pretty dark. When I arrived, I was definitely in awe. This famous German landmark was right before me, with the famous Unter den Linden just behind. What I didn’t realize at the moment was that I was already standing in the former East Berlin, behind the Berlin Wall. After taking a few more photos, I proceeded to walk toward the Fernsehtrum (TV tower), which is right around Alexanderplatz.
After arriving at Alexanderplatz, because it was already late in the evening, stores were already closed, and there wasn’t many people in the square – as the next day was a workday. I didn’t linger for too long, and then decided to take the U-Bahn back to the hotel (and getting a bit lost in the process).
You’ll have to excuse the smartphone photos. I was too tired to carry my DSLR.