Berlin is a city built on shifting sands. The foundations of the Palast der Republik stand like a rift in the city's very fabric, a place where time has started to go backwards and forwards at the same time...

Hackescher Markt (S3, S5, S7, S75)
I explore the hole left after the demolition of the Palast der Republik.

I get on the eastbound S-Bahn at Zoologischer Garten. I have in mind that I'll go round to Alexanderplatz, but end up getting off at Bellevue instead and heading out into the Tiergarten.

Bellevue (S5, S7, S75, S9)
Hansaplatz (U9)
A prussian victory column, modified and placed in the middle of Friedrich II's former hunting ground by the Nazis, with underpasses by Albert Speer.

The Siegessäule (victory column) was completed in 1873. It was designed after the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war in 1864; cannons captured in the war and gilded decorate the bottom ring of the column. During the column's construction, the Prussians also fought wars against Austria and France, in 1866 and 1870-71 respectively. Their victories in these wars were also commemorated on the Siegessäule - the second ring is decorated with Austrian cannons, the third with French cannons.

The Siegessäule was moved from outside the Reichstag to its current position in the middle of the Großer Stern by the Nazis in 1938-39. At the same time, a fourth ring was added, to commemorate the annexation of Austria in 1938, increasing the column's height by 7.5 metres. A set of subways was installed to allow pedestrians to access the Siegessäule. The entrances were designed by Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer and are now the only remaining works by him in Berlin.

It now stands at a height of 66.89 metres (measured to the highest point of the statue); there's a viewing platform at 50.66 metres, which offers nice views across the Tiergarten, if you can face climbing the 285 steps to the top. The statue on top is Victoria, goddess of victory, sometimes referred to as Goldelse (golden Lizzy).

Yes, I did do more yesterday than ride the bus and eat Currywurst, but time is once again trying its best to run away from me, so the rest will have to wait until later.

The clouds which gathered yesterday are still here today, though it's slightly warmer (a positively tropical 0 degrees). Time to head out into the city again!

Wittenbergplatz (U1, U2, U3)
An organic Imbiß on Wittenbergplatz.

A superstar among Berlin's border crossing points, Checkpoint Charlie was one of three allied checkpoints in Germany and one of eight border crossing points between East and West Berlin. The other two allied checkpoints were on one of the Autobahns leading into West Berlin from West Germany - Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstedt and its partner Checkpoint Bravo at Dreilinden. The checkpoints were mainly for military personnel, rather less concerned with the movements of civilians, unlike the GDR border control points on the other side.

Kochstraße (U6)
The reconstructed Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstraße.

As I begin gathering my things so I can leave, clouds are gathering to cover the sun. It's not enough to deter me though, even if the temperature does start to drop once the sun's gone in.

Just a few minutes' walk from the busy Leipziger Straße lies this piece of urban wilderness:

A piece of wilderness in the centre of Berlin

Why is there this piece of waste ground so close to the city centre? A closer look at the path gives a clue:

Spittelmarkt (U2)
Remains of the wall's death strip in central Berlin...and the strange things that occupy it.

You'll perhaps remember me mentioning Tegel when I wrote about Platz der Luftbrücke. The runway was built during the Berlin Airlift in the French sector in 1948, on the site of what had been Racketenflugplatz Berlin (Berlin rocket flight site) between 1930 and 1933. At 2,428 metres, it was the longest runway in Europe at the time.

There's no S-Bahn station serving Tegel.
The X9 and TXL buses run regularly between the airport and the city centre.
There's no U-Bahn either!
I take a look around Tegel airport after landing there.

Ever wondered where the National Lottery's 'voice of the balls' Alan Dedicoat goes on holiday? Probably not, actually. Still, if you ever did, I can tell you he was headed for Berlin this, of course, was I.

It was an early start this morning, a taxi picking me up at 4:30 (too early to take the tube or train, unfortunately, by far the cheaper options).

While it seems that every shop on the high street is currently trying to convince people that Christmas won't be Christmas unless they shop there, I have different ideas...Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to Berlin.

So, join me here between the 13th and the 16th of December for a Christmas journey to Berlin. There'll be plenty of festive fare courtesy of Berlin's Christmas markets, plus more of the usual blend of famous sights and forgotten relics.

Well, I'm back in London. It's been a long journey in more ways than one. I'll keep working on this site - at the very least, I'll use it the next time I visit Berlin (there are really so many more things to cover!) but I'll probably update it with other relevant things from time to time, so keep watching!


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