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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Visit to Berlin

For the third time in four weeks I went on a trip abroad this week. I haven't really had time to travel the past few years, so now I took the chance. I have spent three days in Berlin. It was both for pleasure and for research. My great grandfather (and my grandmother) visited Berlin and other parts of Germany quite often. There are some short descriptions of these visits and also some old postcards. I went to Berlin to see what was left of the sights they saw, and that wasn't a lot. Berlin suffered huge losses during World War II and not all buildings were repaired. The city has also changed since the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989. There is lots of history to learn there, without a doubt. Many museums and historic monuments. I visited the Memorial for the murdered Jews, which is a fairly large area with concrete blocks in symmetrical pattern. Beneath it, under groundlevel, is an information center presenting the history of the Holocaust, examples of family destinies, maps with concentration camp locations and a room with video testimonies and access to databases. I have rarely been in such a silent museum. The visitors didn't say anything at all, they wandered through the place in respectful silence. So did I. In the last room I searched the databases for a Jewish family my great grandfather tried to help during the war by sending food to them while they were in a concentration camp. It did actually keep them alive. I found out more details and discovered that four of the five family members survived and later ended up in Brazil. Very interesting.

I spent one morning at the Aquarium, which is a three storey building next to the zoo. My great grandparents had been there in 1921 (same building) and were amazed at what they saw. I do realize that everything has changed there since then, but I too found the place interesting. I was especially fascinated by a large round tank with jelly fish floating around. There were many different kinds of fish and also snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, insects and sea horses. It was difficult to see the frogs, they were hiding under the leaves. It was a well kept aquarium with very informative displays.

Since it rained basically all three days, I spent much time in shopping malls. There are many of those in Berlin. It's a great place to go shopping. I visited a Christmas shop, second hand stores, discount stores, large department stores and some pretty expensive fashion boutiques. I came home with a total of nine pieces of garment. Over these days I enjoyed German pastry and other baked goods, in addition to the visit to Hard Rock Cafe, of course. The hotel was one of the best ones I have ever stayed at because everything functioned and a very nice breakfast buffet was included. Compared to the hotel in London this was a dream, and at a considerably lower price. The flight time is only 45 minutes, so I can't really understand why I haven't discovered Berlin until now. It's a very nice city. And the German I learned at school in the 1980s still worked, at least in some cases...

Tomorrow it's time for a reality check - I will start working again. I have several hundred e-mails to go through and I'm sure my colleagues will hand over some tasks. In fact I know they will, there are already items in my (physical) mailbox.

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