On Sunday morning we got off to a relaxed start. We woke up relatively late and decided to go get a late breakfast in a restaurant that Allen, a trainee staying with us, had heard about. The restaurant was about a 20 minute walk away, but this suited us just fine as the route took us right through a nearby park. Though the weather was a little chilly, we got to see children playing in the park, people walking dogs, and others enjoying a stroll on their Sunday.
We enjoyed a good meal. The restaurant was French style, and I got a big meal, complete with the hot chocolate I had been denied earlier in the weekend. We walked back and discussed our plans for the day. Mike and I were in a unique situation as our flight was not until later that evening. As we got back to the hostel it became apparent that splitting off from the others made sense, as we had large luggage to consider. We therefore decided we would go take our bags to the main train station to rent a locker, with the intent to come pick it up before catching airport transit. The others had a little time before their flights and less luggage than us, so they went straight for their first sight, the East Side Gallery.
We swung by Hauptbahnhof and dropped off our bags before catching transit to the East Side Gallery ourselves. Though I had already been, Mike wanted to come check it out so I got a second round of sightseeing in. We went in the opposite direction from what I had done previously, and I noticed new things coming from this side. It wasn’t all a waste of time as I was able to point out some details to Mike while I appreciated new things he pointed out to me that I hadn’t seen.
After we completed our rounds at the gallery, we still had several hours to kill. We decided to visit the Checkpoint Charlie museum. There, we were surprised by the scope of the exhibits and the level of detail the museum went into. The museum details lots of events relating to the cold war, including proxy wars between the US and the USSR. There’s a fair bit of it dedicated to documenting escape attempts and methods. Additionally, the museum does a fair job describing the aftermath of WWII in Berlin and what it was like living in a divided Berlin. It was more history about the cold war than I had ever seen in one place, and while we rushed through certain bits I walked away having learned a lot.
Checkpoint Charlie is relatively centrally located in Berlin, so with more time to spare before our flight we headed to Museum Island. We decided on visiting Bode, because to check out some of the Byzantine collection there. The museum itself was not huge, but it was not crowded at all which was a welcome change from what we had been used to. The most memorable bits for me were the Byzantine collection, featuring sculpture, architectural elements, and lots of tile-work, and a special exhibit they had running on international currency. The museum seemed to be housed in an old church with a main hallway and rooms off to the sides. It was a good way to get out of the rain and see some of the less-visited artworks.
After the museum, we found a Mexican place nearby and grabbed some dinner. It was actually pretty good, though maybe not by US-standards. Considering we were an ocean away from Mexico it was pretty good. After dinner we grabbed our bags at Hauptbahnhof, made our way to the airport, and caught an uneventful flight to Brussels. Before long we landed in Belgium and caught a train to get to the city. After a 10 minute walk we were at our hostel, where we checked in. Tired after being out all day, we didn’t do much that first night besides prep for bed, do a bit of research for the next day, and sleep. After all, we had lots to explore in Belgium. More on that next time! Until then,
Best wishes and safe travels everyone,