Berlin Trip 2019

Posted On: 15/03/19

In the very early hours of Thursday 7th March, German Sixth Form students at CRGS set off for what was to be a very informative and eye-opening trip to Berlin. After arriving at Schönefeld airport around 11am local time, we headed to our accommodation for the following four days, Jugendherberge International, located in the city centre and providing us with easy access to various tourist attractions and historical sites.

Once our luggage was deposited, we set off to Alexanderplatz to have our first meal. Many proceeded to visit local café spots where their language skills were first put to the test. It soon became clear that the group’s language skills were sufficient enough to hold conversation, especially after our first event of the trip: attending the DAAD. Our visit to the DAAD was informative and we were educated about the endless possibilities available if we wanted to study in Germany, which appealed to the vast majority of our group. After the meeting, we headed to the Brandenburg Tor to get some photos of the gate. As the sun set, we visited the Reichstag and had a German-speaking tour, which was at first daunting, but soon we felt more comfortable as we could understand our tour-guide. We saw the main hall (the debating chamber) and also went to the top, where the glass dome is located. After a jam-packed day, we headed to a shopping mall, had some delicious German delicacies and went back to the hostel for some well-earned rest.

The next morning, we had a guided walking tour of Berlin. Despite the freezing weather, it was an interesting start to the day. We began the tour at Alexanderplatz and, following the Spree, we viewed Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s neoclassical and gothic buildings which were strewn across Berlin. I particularly loved the older, more traditional buildings such as the Konzerthaus, the Berlin Cathedral and Neue Wache. After departing with our German-speaking tour guide, we had free time to explore and visited a local bakery, the Rausch Schokoladenhaus and the RitterSport chocolate shop. After this mini shopping spree, we visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was extremely moving. Afterwards, we had free time to either explore the Cathedral or the National Gallery and have lunch. In the evening, we visited the GRIPS Theatre and saw “Ab heute hießst du Sara”, which focused on the life of a Jewish girl and her family in Wartime Berlin, which was a period of persecution and fear. Afterwards, we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel for an early night.

After another early start the next day, we went to Alexanderplatz, taking a pleasant tram journey to the former East Berlin. Our destination was Honenschönhausen, a notorious prison used by the Stasi, who were the secret police force that operated in the ironically named German Democratic Republic, or former East Germany, which was in reality staunchly Communist and the furthest from democratic you could possibly imagine. We were given a tour of the complex, which was a moving experience for all. Our next destination was the world famous East Side Gallery, an open air gallery with street art painted on the longest remnant of the Berlin Wall. Later on that day, we took a leisurely walk across the river to the world renowned Jewish Museum. We then walked through the streets of Berlin to get to the Check Point Charlie Museum, which was all about the historic checkpoint between East and West Berlin and the border’s national and international significance. The evening was spent at a local shopping mall not far from Potsdamerplatz, where we had a meal.

On our final day, we visited the DDR Museum, which was all about the history of the former East Germany (DDR – Deutsche Demokratische Republik). It was fascinating and gave us some really useful background information to our A level film that we are studying ‘Das Leben der Anderen’, which is set during that historical period. A small group of us then visited the Gedächtniskirche, which are the ruins of a historic church built by Kaiser Wilhelm II in the late 19th Century that was badly damaged during World Ward Two bombing raids. After lunch, we headed over to Schloss Charlottenburg, a beautiful palace built in what was then Prussia during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Our final visit in Berlin was to the Brücke Museum of Expressionist Art, before we, unfortunately, had to go to the airport and fly home, bringing an amazing trip to an end.

Tom Awad—12RHe