Berlin is known for it’s history, it’s culture, it’s food. A city on my hit list for a few years now, and I was finally going to get to visit. Cruising the Baltic for my 50th Birthday, the ship was docking in Warnemunde, Germany.
When we docked in Warnemunde, we boarded a chartered a train into the city centre. We opted for the “on your own” adventure, figuring it would be an easy city to get around, and a lot of the highlights were within walking distance. Normally I would have had a “plan”, but I’m trying to break away from always scheduling.
During the 3 hour trip into Berlin, our guide distributed maps and gave us a suggested walking tour. We planned our tentative walking route with an open mind….if we saw something interesting, or wanted to spend extra time at a museum, we would make adjustments.
Once our short guided coach tour of Berlin ended, we decided it was time to grab lunch. We quickly found a table near Gendarmenmarkt, which seemed promising for some German sausage and beer. The weather was unusually warm for mid September, so we opted to eat outside. After our beer arrived, we were joined by a couple from Montreal, whom we met on the train ride that morning. After hearing about their past Segway adventures, they invited us to join them on their already booked tour. So after lunch, we made our way to 2 Wheel Tours, a half block from Gendarmenmarkt.
This was our first time on a Segway, and I will be honest, I was a little worried. We were geared up with helmets, and I was assured we would not leave until I was comfortable. Getting on the scooter, my initial worry was that I would not be able to stand, or the Segway would tip over. I was surprised how easy it was, and once I got moving, my new worry was being able to stop!
Florencia, our knowledgeable guide, led us down the sidewalks to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the crossing points between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. The building itself is now in a museum, but the street, a tourist attraction, has a large photo of a soldier hanging in the middle of the intersection. Although none of the Berlin Wall remains at the intersection, the spot where the wall stood is marked with red bricks.
Next we made our way to Potsdamer Platz, the historic square of Berlin, and site of Europe’s first traffic light. There are also remnants of the Berlin Wall at this site, which was one of the first crossing points created just days after the “fall of the wall” in 1989. Florencia managed to safely get us through this busy traffic hub, and we gave our legs a break and took some photos.
Leaving the busy intersection we made our way through a large green space. With less pedestrian traffic, we were able to get up our speed. Soon we reached the Reichstag Building, with it’s notable glass dome. The parliament building underwent a restoration which was completed in 1999. Now visitors are welcome to visit this dome and it’s 360 degree city views with prior registration.
The iconic Brandenburg Gate, an 18th century monument was our next stop on our tour. This now pedestrian area has been the site of many historical events, symbolizing a reunified Berlin.
The dark grey columns marking the Memorial to the Murdered Jews was where we next got off our Segway. Florencia asked us what we thought was the significance of the 2,711 columns and design of the site. I thought possibly they represented graves of the Jews perished in the Holocaust. Apparently the design is vague, and has been the subject of debate since it was erected. The uneasy feeling the design creates is a purposeful reminder of the historical genocide that occurred in Germany.
By now my legs were tiring from balancing for two hours. I was happy to take my last step off the Segway onto the concrete sidewalk! I would consider a Segway tour again. Next time I hope to master keeping the Segway in one place when not going forward………… when Florencia stopped to talk on the tour, I had to keep going in circles! It was an informative and fun way to “see Berlin” in such a short amount of time. If we had gone on our own walking tour, we would be as tired, and covered far less ground.
Go see Florencia at 2 Wheel Tours!