Lutz whisked us away in his car and gave us an awesome free tour of the city. Like Los Angeles, a couple of hours of driving around does not even begin to cover all of the sights and neighborhoods of this place, but it was a fantastic introduction.
|The German Cathedral at Gendarmenmarkt|
We rolled through Mitte and onto Museum Island, the site of a number of monumental buildings with many rich layers of European history. We stopped for a few minutes next to the Lustgarten between the Berlin Cathedral and the Altes Museum. Lutz told us that there were once four buildings surrounding this square, and that they represented the four pillars of society - church, state, military, and the arts. The state in this case was a castle which was destroyed, and a new building is being constructed there now (which is something Berlin is known for doing).
We pulled up aside the Gendarmenmarkt. This beautiful plaza is home to the Konzerthaus in the center, and flanked by the identical French and German Cathedrals. We were told that this plaza is absolutely lovely in the summertime, and filled with people, art, and music. A place we will definitely return to!
We drove by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a chilling monument that we will come back to spend time at and fully absorb its impact.
We passed through the developing Moabit neighborhood, and the Schoneberg and Wilmersdorf area, where Lutz highlighted Viktoria-Luise-Platz, one of his favorite spots. It looked like a very nice neighborhood with a lot of pretty apartment buildings and little restaurants. We also passed through Charlottenberg, and down Kurfurstendamm, as well as past the gay-friendly area of Nollendorfplatz.
We drove through the beautiful, wintery Tiergarten, the famous central park of Berlin. This took us around the Berlin Victory Column as dusk fell.
|The Berlin Victory Column|
This was a great way to spend our fifth day in Berlin, and an easy, relaxing way to sightsee with a very knowledgeable guide! As much as we look forward to spending time at these places on foot, the comfort of the chauffeured car was a great perk. We feel like we've gained a lot of inspiration for getting out and seeing the city in the coming weeks.
Having friends like Lutz to help us get to know Berlin is a wonderful thing. This place is huge and exciting, and full of history and beauty around every corner. Lutz said that Berlin is a city that is not as known for its beauty as Paris or London, but that the beauty is hidden. But, I found myself disagreeing for at least one reason. Coming from LA, and seeing, as I did today, so many people on the sidewalks walking together and biking on the streets, instead of everyone alone in their cars, I began to see beauty all around me.