Originally posted 21/07/2013
Hectic day and running on about 3-4 hrs sleep. We visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp in the morning, I met Sam in the afternoon, then had dinner at the Hofbrau Biergarten and went out clubbing after a brief pub crawl and tour of the old Berlin Wall.
So apparently Rammstein does a cover of 'barbie girl', the tour guide played it on the bus and it was hilarious.
We spent the morning at a concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. I'm already going to Auschwitz with Sam but they'll be very different because they were different types of concentration camp. Auschwitz was an extermination camp - essentially an abbattoir for Jews, whereas Sachsenhausen was a work camp - rather than extermination, the Jewish prisoners there were used for forced labour. It was very, very interesting, but also pretty creepy and pretty confronting hearing about the things that happened.
It is compulsory for German children to attend an excursion to the concentration camps to learn from the history of the country. I was surprised when I heard that, but it makes sense that they would want to teach their children about the mistakes of the past.
In the medical infirmary, they had swatches of hair, graded from platinum blonde at the highest level down to black at the lowest. If your hair colour wasn't high enough you would be castrated, in a brutal early form of eugenics.
Cyclists everywhere! Berlin is full of them, get your shit together Australia.
Went for a wander with Sam and saw the tv tower and zoo. Interesting fact about the tv tower - it was supposed to be a marvel of East German engineering, to show the power of glorious communist Germany, but they messed it up and built it wrong and the Swiss had to come in to save the day and basically rebuild it correctly.
The billboards here rotate. In Australia, each one has several ads on a roll and they scroll up and down. Just found that interesting.
Orange fanta is yellow here?
There is construction constantly going on in Berlin. I'm guessing that since the fall of the Berlin Wall, they've been constantly working on the infrastructure and rebuilding the city.
The zoo was a lot of fun. We went to a supermarket on the way and picked up some beer - 70 cents a bottle! - then drank while we wandered around the zoo, tried out a few authentic German beers. The Germans really do know their beer, it went down smooth as butter.
The best part of the zoo, for me, was the Lion exhibit. The actual exhibit was being refurbished so they were in smallish cells inside, the big male in one and then two other lions in the next. They couldn't see each other, but could hear each other, and while we were there, they starting calling out through the wall between them. The big lion's roar just about shook the room, it was incredible. I've never heard an animal so loud and powerful.
The ads here are a bit more... suggestive than in Aus, it's pretty hilarious: