TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! We have been sitting on a station platform in Hannover for over an hour, our train has been delayed by 105 minutes. So I shall fill the time by writing about our last day in Berlin.
We started by getting the U-train (the German equivalent of London’s Tube) to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the border crossings of the Berlin Wall (yep, more history lessons today, folks). This was the area of the West controlled by the Americans and named after the letter C in the phonetic alphabet (Alpha is the crossing point from West to East Germany and Bravo is between East Germany and West Berlin if you’re interested).
Unlike the Bernauerstraẞe sector of the wall (which was in the French sector), here an artist’s installation marked the path of the wall in the form of brightly coloured purple and blue pipes above the streets where the wall had stood, which I suppose was kind of cool.
What I realised today was that the Wall was not a barrier dividing the city into its East and West halves, but instead a circular wall cutting off the West side of Berlin from the rest of East Germany, a tiny bit of West allowed to remain in the otherwise Eastern country, Berlin itself being firmly in the east of Germany. France, Britain and the US were responsible for controlling their parts of West Berlin, and East Berlin was controlled by the Russians – see my helpful map if you’re confused.
The Wall was set up by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to 'protect its citizens from fascism' as it was building a socialist state, however West Berliner’s referred to it as the Wall of Shame and its real purpose was to stop East Berliners fleeing to the West through West Berlin. Credit for this information goes to the information boards posted all around Checkpoint Charlie and at Bernauerstraẞe.
After some more souvenir shopping at Checkpoint Charlie, we moved onto the Topographie Des Terrors, a museum and memorial documenting the events of World War II including Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust. The longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall can also be found here, even if it was a bit torn down. The concrete tube over the top prevented people climbing it, concrete extending behind the wall stopped vehicles knocking it down by driving into it (I’m not sure how effective this was).
Strangely enough, when the Wall was brought down in 1989, the Limex-Beau company sold off parts of the wall, stamped for authentication to be used as road building materials. I find this very odd behaviour, but then what can one expect, they were human…
Things started to get a bit heavy so we took a break for lunch and visited another nice park and then headed over to Brammibal’s Doughnuts. My humans were very pleased with themselves for finding an all vegan doughnut bakery. They shared (ginormous) glazed ring doughnuts. They were chocolate peanut fudge, peanut banana fudge, nougat and hazelnut sprinkle. I have been reliably informed that they tasted fantastic, if you like doughnuts and are ever in Berlin, Germany or central Europe in general, a trip here is a must.
Doughnuts eaten, we headed over to the Brandenburg gate; it was huge! In case you're interested (and if you're not, I'll tell you anyway), the Brandenburg gate became part of the wall, separating the British West sector from the East. In 1987, US president Ronald Reagan stood on the West side of the wall and petitioned the East to 'tear down this wall'. Was Reagan an influence on its fall two years later? Probably not, but I'll let you make up your own mind.
I liked this area of Berlin, there were lots of old buildings and we also found the famous Tiergarten, but it was another 30˚c day and so we decided it would be a good idea to head back to our room and cool off with a cold shower.
It also allowed my humans to pick up their giant backpacks and say our goodbyes to our host. A short bus ride later, we were seated on our first train of the night, this one to Hannover.
A note on the spelling of Hannover: the English spelling has one 'n' (Hanover) and the German spelling has two, I like it with two 'n's so that is how I'm going to spell it!
This first train journey all went smoothly and we took our last look at the city as it disappeared from view. Berlin has been a fascinating city and we’ve had (accidentally, I might add) a very history based visit, the multitude of parks to eat meals and relax in has also been a great positive.
We arrived in Hannover and set off to find yet another park for dinner and to our surprise, discovered a piece of the Berlin Wall, stamped so there could be no mistake, at the entrance to the park. Strange coincidences.
Speaking of coincidences, I haven’t mentioned the cranes for a while. I am starting to wonder if they have followed us from Oslo, every city we have visited has been rife with cranes in an assortment of colours. Progress is everywhere, or so it seems.
Our night train to Vienna, as I mentioned earlier, has been delayed by 105 minutes, so that’s it for now, we’re all caught up. I’ll write later when the train eventually arrives and we are settled in for the night.
Actually, by the time the train arrived, it was so late we all went straight to sleep, therefore I’m actually writing this in a park in Vienna, so at least you know we made it to Austria, there was a point where I started to fear the train would never come.
In the end, the train was 130 minutes late – that’s over two hours!
A long time for a little cat to be sitting unmoving on a station platform in what, I must be honest, was not a good looking city. It was around 11:30 when the train was an hour and a half late that I seriously began to fear we would have no train and be stuck in this ugly German city forever (sorry, Hannover, I’m sure the areas of you we didn’t get to visit were beautiful).
The train finally arrived after midnight and we settled into our compartment, yes, this train has actual compartments like they do in old films. Although I don’t think the seats slide down into a reclining position like ours did in old films. How would I know? I’m a cat, I read books, I don’t watch films.
Finally! My poor, weary, exhausted, tired etc. body could rest!
Tomorrow I shall relate to you what we did in Vienna.
Until then, Chesh.