It’s Sunday and I’m meeting my friend at the Mauerpark, but I’m running late. I didn’t sleep well – kept getting leg cramps, from all the walking and cake eating.
We arrive at the Mauerpark around noon. The sun is hot, there are crowds watching the buskers in the street outside, and the Flea Market is already packed. We wander past the basketball court to the amphitheatre, where someone is playing guitar and singing in front of an appreciative audience. We sit down. There’s a relaxed, hippy vibe that reminds me of when I was a student in the 70s.
At the top of the hill, behind the amphitheatre, are remnants of the Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall). Street artists regularly refresh the graffiti adorning the wall. It’s at once a grim reminder of the past and an opportunity for self-expression.
Right outside the Mauerpark, where Bernauer Straße meets Eberswalder Straße, is where the first segments of the wall were knocked down on 10th November 1989. I can still remember the feeling of relief and excitement, watching it on TV.
We head for the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial). On the whitewashed wall of an apartment building on the corner of Bernauer Straße and Brunnenstraße is a now famous photograph of an East German soldier, escaping to the West over the barbed wire fence which pre-dated the wall.
Further along, concrete blocks and metal plates show the routes of various escape tunnels. Adjacent to the visitor centre is the Window of Remembrance – a display of photographs of people who lost their lives trying to escape to the West.
We head for Oranienburger Tor and rest for a while at the House of Small Wonder (another café I discovered on Instagram). Continuing down Oranienburger Straße, we pass the golden dome of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin (Foundation New Synagogue Berlin), one of the few synagogues to survive Kristallnacht in 1938.
Further on, we discover a quiet, shady courtyard which is home to the Tadshikische Teestube (Tajikistan Tearoom), an exotic riot of green and red, recommended by another Instagram friend. I would love to stay, but we have already imbibed.
Our wandering finally leads back to the Hackesche Höfe, where I introduce my friend to the ice-cream I sampled a couple of days earlier – I know he’ll appreciate it. Then it’s off to the other side of Tiergarten to have dinner with his friends.
This means another late night, but it’s a lovely end to a wonderful visit.
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