Saturday, November 22, 2008

Erfurt & Berlin

Well, we've been back in New Zealand now for a little under a week. Trying to settle back into work has been difficult for both of us, but I think we're getting there now the jet lag has subsided.

Now there's a bit of time to post the last few blog entries for the last few destinations on our trip.

Well, it turned out that the surprise location was Erfurt - a charming medieval town between Munich and Berlin.

This is actually a bridge completely covered in shops and houses.

A view along the bridge. There were some lovely craft shops.

Erfurt is a small town, so when you finally stumble onto the main square, it's quite a shock to find two giant buildings forming the religious town centre. It was getting dark and the photo doesn't really do justice to the scene, but those buildings are massive.

We stayed overnight at a Augustiner monastery where Martin Luther was a monk for about seven years.

The next day we travelled on to Berlin.

The famous Brandenburg Gate. A Berlin icon.

This was the royal family's private church. Not bad for a private chapel eh?

The controversial Jewish memorial. It consists of 2711 concrete blocks of various heights arranged in a grid. You can walk amongst them. One interpretation is that the blocks represent individual stones that are placed on a grave site during a Jewish funeral.

It's an impressive monument.

Underneath there is a Jewish museum.

This is the square where the National Socialist Party (the Nazis) performed their infamous book-burning. As a memorial, there is a room built under the square with empty bookshelves, symbolising the empty space left by the books burned that day.

This is all that remains of Hitler's bunker. It is now a carpark.

One of the last remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall.

The other side of the wall. Beneath you can see an exhibition about the atrocities committed by the Gestapo, who used dungeons below this area to torture and murder people.

The German Chancellor's building, affectionately nicknamed "The Washing Machine".

The Reichstag - the German Parliament.

On top of the Reichstag is an impressive viewing dome made from glass and steel.

Here is the main power reactor that supplies the entire country. It's protected by numerous turbo turrets and fighter patrols.

Actually it's a mirrored column above viewing windows, through which you can observe the German parliament when in session.

Two spiral walkways curve up and down from the viewing platform at the top of the dome.

We visited a Nuclear Fallout Shelter beneath the city. There are many such shelters, this one is designed to house 3,500 people for two weeks. If such a thing happened, with that many people in such a small space for so long, it would be a living hell.

And that concludes our European Experience!

I have one more post lined up that covers our short stay in the United States.

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