25 JAHRE MAUERFALL: Student Trip to Berlin
28 November 2014
We had planned a weekend trip to Berlin for the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. 4 A.M Friday morning we united at the airport to get what turned out to be an amazing weekend underway. After a short flight we arrived in Berlin and even though there was a strike in the public transport system, we made it to our Hostel near Ostbahanhof. From there we relaxed for a few hours due to the early start in the day, then went out to see the East Side Gallery (pictures included) which is the largest single section of the wall remaining today. It was covered with beautiful murals and paintings and alongside it the Lichterkette (lit up balloons). Proceeding onto a bar next to Görlizter Bahnhof for some cocktails.
On Saturday we went to Checkpoint Charlie, where one could see the Lichterkette running directly through the checkpoint. It was relatively busy there and one of our group (Jimmy) was actually interviewed by a radio station to give his thoughts on all the events going on. We then walked along the wall towards Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Centre, where everything was beautifully illuminated. There was a Christmas market outside where we enjoyed some traditional hot Glühwein. From there we ventured to the Brandenburger Tor where we were lucky enough to be right at the front of the ‘Fan Meile’ and watched Udo Lindenberg perform some songs! The energy there was just ecstatic.
On Sunday, which was the day of the anniversary, Berlin was like I had never seen it before. People everywhere. I mean everywhere. The atmosphere was of such happiness, smiles all around. Everybody was out with their kids and parents, even their pet dogs. We went to Mauerpark in the morning, which usually holds the Europe's largest Karaoke every Sunday. Next to it there is a huge market where you see things which I would say are unique to Mauerpark. You can buy everything from handmade bracelets to old door signs. In the evening we attempted to go to the Brandenburger Tor for the release of the Lichterkette but it had been closed since about 3pm due to the amount of people (1 million or so) who were on the Fanmeile. So we were by the river next to the Bundestag which worked out brilliantly in the end as we had a view right across the river and to the Hauptbahnhof. As we were waiting a mass of tour boats full of tourists had stopped right infront of our viewing area, preventing us from seeing the balloons. And as this day was to represent German reunification, we saw a magnificent and suprising display of German Unity. The thousand or so people stood along our part of the river started chanting ‘Das Schiff muss weg!” (The boat must go) and they did not stop until about 10 minutes later, the boat moved. At around 7:30 pm, we heard a loud roar of cheering from the Brandenburger gate behind us, from the huge screens we could see the Lichterkette had begun to rise and the balloons were lifting into the air. One by one people were letting these balloons fly up and the wall was gone again.
Throughout the whole weekend one could really feel the excitement and happiness of this event. Everywhere we went in Berlin, you would only have to turn your head and you’d see the balloons and think oh there they are again they’re so beautiful. But you soon realise that they are representing the wall that once stood here separating Germany, and through this installation of the balloons you really feel how vast of an impact this wall had had. Though everybody was there to celebrate the reunification of Germany, and so everyone was so positive! You would walk around and people would just start telling you first hand experiences of how it was living in the east and how they felt when the wall came down. Hearing it all from somebody who has lived through it and is now celebrating this event with you really adds a whole new dimension to the experience.
And to top it all off, we were all given 50 euro vouchers off our next flight with Air Berlin, so I’m pretty sure another Trip to Berlin is on the cards soon!
(Text by: Victor Vadolia, Photos by: Viktor Vadolia, Anissa Eckhoff, Pauline Gruyters)