Berlin is the European city where I went back in time to relive WWII history. Exploring Berlin’s famous wall and walking the city, while learning more about the past was an important part of my European tour. A recent conversation I had online with a fellow travel blogger reminded me of Germany’s heavy history. Luckily, what’s in the past is in the past. Remembering the past assures us and future generations that history will not repeat itself.
As a teacher, I felt a compelling desire to visit historically relevant cities in Europe. The visits have impacted me as an individual and as a teacher. The information I learned can easily be incorporated into my future lessons. I am a teacher first, a traveler second. Or is it the other way around? In any case, my travels and real world experiences directly impact me as a person and my role as a teacher. Berlin allowed me the opportunity to see Europe from my personal perspective and from the perspective of a teacher. Relevant, meaningful, and educational.
During my two day tour of Berlin I explored what was once East and West Berlin, the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery,
Telecommunication Tower (i.e. the tooth pick), Alexander Platz shopping region, Check Point Charlie, SS Main Office Museum, Bahnhof Potsdamer Platz popular plaza, Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate/Paris Square, Reichstag Building, Parliament, Academy of Arts, Victory Monument (Goddess of Victory), Hitler’s Bunker, and the Grand Hotel where Michael Jackson revealed his son to the world on the balcony, while passing the many green parks and gardens.
On my second day, the walking tour provided me with specific detailed information about each location during the tour. The Berlin Wall, specifically the East Side Gallery captivated me and held my attention. I walked beside the wall staring into the murals as if being hallucinated by the wall itself. I heard the wall speaking to me [as if it could], telling me stories of the past. It was the Berlin Wall that put Berlin’s history into perspective for me. Seeing and touching the wall firsthand made history real (this is what education should really be about–experiencing something firsthand). The gigantic towering wall standing on countless kilometres allowed me to see the true reality of the past. I’ve never been more appreciative of my freedom and the society in which I live in today. I couldn’t imagine living in a city that was divided for 28 years.
Although it was a couple of mentally challenging days, it was an experience that I will not forget. It was necessary for me to visit Germany while in Europe, especially Berlin, Germany’s capitol. Munich gave me one perspective, while Berlin, Germany’s powerful economy gave me an entirely different one. With most of Berlin having been rebuilt (much of it is still under construction and with areas still off-limits to the public), the city is now new, green, lush, and vibrant, with hints of its history speckled throughout. Berlin today is a bright and cheerful place to be with tourists from all over flocking to be in the historical place. Walking the streets of Berlin with a Berlina (jelly filled donut) in hand made me feel more like a local than a visitor. If a sweet treat isn’t your thing then you’d die to try one of the 600 varieties of fresh baked pretzels in Germany.