Wir lieben Berlin! - We love Berlin!
During half-term Miss Wood and I had the pleasure of accompanying our six A Level German students to Berlin, the capital city of Germany. Our three days spent there were packed with cultural delights and historical insights.
We stayed in a central area of Berlin, aptly named 'Mitte' which meant that we could visit most sights by foot. Saying that we also had to navigate our way around on a number of different forms of transport : plane, train, automobile, metro, tram, local train and national train. All great experience!
We paid a visit to the German Parliament Building, The Reichstag where we climbed up the spiral stairway of the glass dome, took in the 360 degree views of Berlin and learnt all about the Reichstag and the surrounding important state buildings. Not far from here we visited the Brandenburg Gate, a famous symbol of Germany both from nowadays and reflecting Germany's past. Then we lost ourselves quietly in thought in the outdoor Jewish memorial.
Lunch of 'Currywurst' beckoned and this gave us the energy to head to Checkpoint Charlie (former crossing point between East and West Berlin) and then on to the Ampelmann (traffic light men) shop. Such a fun and vibrant place. We chose to take in the views from the top of the Fernsehturm (TV tower) just before sunset to see Berlin both by day and night. This tower is the highest in Germany. We had a capital cities quiz courtesy of Oscar to help some of us cope with the 42 second lift ascent! The Fernsehturm was our highlight of the day and we loved spotting the tower throughout the rest of our trip as it popped up between buildings!
Highlights included: Exploring the many exhibits in the Judisches Museum (Jewish museum), followed by an amazing Turkish kebab in the Kreuzberg area. Berlin has more kebab shops than Istanbul! We walked along the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall. This is called The Eastside Gallery and is an art exhibition featuring work from 175 different artists. The evening was spent at Potsdamer Platz which has an ultra-modern collection of buildings on the former No Man's Land and then onto the Hackesche Höfe, a collection of courtyard buildings.
We started today off at Bernauer Straße, where a former death strip section of the Berlin Wall still remains and you can climb a platform to see what it would have looked like. Next we headed to West Berlin to the Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church), where the Stalingrad Madonna painting is to be found. The luxurious department store: Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe) still managed to highlight the contrast between life in West and East Germany. We were lucky to find yet another exciting view of Berlin. This time from the top of a hotel (Bikini 25 Hours) that has a restaurant that overlooks the monkey and giraffe enclosures of the Tiergarten (zoo). We made our final journey back past the Siegsäule (the victory column) that lit up the sky with its sunlit golden angel on the top.
We all had such a fantastic time. Pupils prepared presentations and presented them to the group at each major tourist attraction, we all spoke as much German as possible and are looking forward to returning to Berlin, but next time, in the summer!
Head of Modern Languages
" I felt truly honoured and privileged to be back in this great city with our lovely 6th Formers for their first ever experience of Berlin, it was so wonderful for Miss Kaye and I to be a part of and share their excitement and enthusiasm - it was so infectious! I felt like I had come full circle as my own A Level German teachers also took me to Berlin for the first time (a while back now!) so it really was such a special trip for me with memories I will always cherish. "
Miss Wood, MFL
Below some comments from students who attended the trip:
"I really enjoyed our trip to Berlin because I was able to experience everything we have studied in class. The cultural aspects and exploring the city’s landmarks will allow me to speak about them more personally in exams! Seeing the difference in the East and West really interested me as the history is still relevant, especially at the Berlin Wall (my favourite bit was the East Side Gallery!)"
"It was amazing being in Berlin because everything we have been learning in the classroom, came to life in the history, the culture and the architecture we saw. I’m hoping to go back with my parents because I know that they will love it too."
"One of the key highlights of our trip to Berlin for me was being up the TV tower during the day and night! The panoramic view was picturesque at both times. Being able to experience in person the places we read about in our textbooks and form our own opinions on them was so beneficial for our learning."
"My favourite part about Berlin was getting to see the difference between the east and west. Even though it’s much more modernised now, you can still see the difference between them. Also getting to see to the Berlin wall as it’s such a huge part of history."
"Berlin was an experience I would love to have over and over again. As soon as I returned to England, the one place I wanted to be was back in Berlin. Every day was packed with the most wonderful sights and laughter amongst us, which I think is shown perfectly in the photos! The memories made are ones I won’t forget, from the moment we boarded the plane to when I returned to Gatwick. My favourite part was the TV tower, watching the sunset was surreal. Embracing the culture was great too, especially the food."
"My favourite part of the trip was the Jewish Memorial Museum – it was so moving and was beautifully designed with lots of amazing art and culture. Of course the whole vibe of Berlin was amazing, especially in the east. I adored it and can imagine working and living there."