We really should have gone to Berlin over the school holiday last spring. Tony and I were here almost 12 years ago for a mere three days as part of our “East Germany” driving holiday and had time for little more than the most touristy checklist items. Now, older and wiser, and with an entire week to devote to the city, we and the children have been charmed and impressed with Berlin. Gritty and cosmopolitan, historic and modern and–with apologies to Vienna, the temporary home that we love–open for our enjoyment on Saturday evenings and Sundays.
There is no way I or my camera could capture our impressions of the former East Berlin. I can offer only these images.
Atop the Reichstag dome in the early morning.
The East Berlin “Ampelmann” turned pop star. T-shirts, cookie cutters, dog chewies and more can be yours at the Ampelmann Store. Nothing like a little capitalism to help shake off the dust of years of Communist oppression. 

During our visit in 2002 the Brandenburger Tor was covered for restoration. This year close-up access was blocked with preparations for New Year’s. Maybe our third visit will be the charm.

The Neue Wache at the eastern end of Unter den Linden, a memorial to all victims of tyranny and war.

The Französischer Dom at Gendarmenmarkt, the home for the French community since the time of the Huguenots.

This VW bug at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum helped 500 people escape from East to West.

Also in the museum were columns of donated DDR passports, tokens of a time not worth remembering, but a time that will never be forgotten.

A few sections of the kilometer-long “East Side Gallery,” a preserved section of The Wall along the river Spree.