Day 9: Berlin (20 Mar) #1

A/N: If you’ve noticed the change in the title format that I use, this is due to feedback from some readers that placing the date and day together confuses them. I will gradually rollout the changes to past posts when I have the time to do so.

Another chilly day in Berlin, but nowhere as bad as yesterday’s nerve numbing weather. Being in Berlin, one of the must-go place is definitely the Berlin Wall, and that’s exactly where I’m headed today.

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One of BVG’s yellow articulated buses. This one passed me on my way to the Osloer Str. station.
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Hand operated water pump in the middle of the street?

As usual, Osloer Str will be my starting point of the day due to its proximity to Hotel Big Mama. From there, I’ll take the U8 towards Hermannstr. and get off at Bernauer Str. Remember, validate your ticket/day pass at the little orange machines before boarding the train!

Now, what happened at Bernauer Str. was that the station had 2 street level exits, like many other stations. However, my data was again spotty and I wasn’t sure which exit I should take. I ended up taking the exit circled in red (see picture below) instead of the orange exit which would have brought me up right next to the memorial. And to think that I spent quite some time wandering down the street, lost as hell until a passerby pointed me in the right direction… *shakes head*

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The two exits of Bernauer Str. I came out of the one circled in red. Had I came out from the orange one, the memorial would have been directly on my left.

But hey, I got there in the end didn’t I?

They had this metal sculpture/map of the area around Bernauer Str when the Wall was still around, complete with a ‘You Are Here’ label for you to orientate yourself. And also, the memorial is more like a park, and entry is definitely free.

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To think that this park was a deadly no-man’s land barely thirty years ago…
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Is the graffiti covered wall on the right part of the original wall?

There are bollards with German and English explanations of the history of this part of the Wall. The Berlin Wall has no doubt left a deep influence on the city, even after it’s collapse and the Reunification. Paths where the wall once stood are marked by bricked lines on the ground, going up buildings and cutting across subway stations.

Following that, I caught a bus going down the street to my next transit point: the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station.

Nordbahnhof station’s building above ground was a very generic squat brick building, and you probably wouldn’t have spared it a glance if it wasn’t for the giant green S on a pillar. I went through a set of heavy doors, down into the depths of the station and find it… empty?

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Ironically, the ghost station is still a ghost station.

While the London Underground feels lively, Berlin’s metro system felt quaint, like something out of the 70s or 80s. The first set of steps will lead you down to the former ticket hall with its counters shuttered long ago. Another set of stairs lead further down into the platform area. However, during my 10-minute wait there, there were only 2 other commuters there.

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The nearly empty station. This was taken at 1 in the afternoon, showing the lack of commuters.

Ironically, Nordbahnhof was one of the actual ‘ghost stations’ that emerged after the rise of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. With its entrance bricked up and East German border guards patrolling its dingy platforms, it didn’t see passenger service until the late 1990s. And even more ironically, the former ticket hall was dedicated to an exhibition regarding ghost and border stations during the period when the Wall existed.

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An S-Bahn train. Unlike the round-ish London Underground rolling stock, Berlin’s are more square-ish.

Ok, that’s plenty enough about Berlin’s metro system. Onto Brandenburg Gate!

A/N: My cost-benefit analysis of the Swiss Travel Pass is now up on Patreon. Check it out!

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