Last stop on our European journey was Berlin – a compulsory destination for a history nut (me!) with a particular interest in the memorialisation of difficult pasts.
We chose our hotel purely because it was the cheapest thing we could find – lucky us, Potsdamer Platz is a great location. We walked to the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten, Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism, the Reichstag, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Jewish Museum (home to a super architectural exhibit designed by Daniel Libeskind that everyone should visit).
If you are on a budget, a huge amount can be accessed for free. Topographie of Terrors is a free exhibition designed around a section of the Berlin Wall and focussing on Nazi propaganda. While you have to pay to get into the museums on Museum Island, there are statues and gardens on the Island that you can enjoy for free.
Also free, and a short train journey out of the city, is Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Sachsenhausen tells its story in four distinct periods of recent history: as a Nazi concentration camp, a Soviet Special camp, a memorial in the German Democratic Republic, and a memorialisation space since reunification. The stories are important, so be sure to buy an audio guide.
Berlin has for so long been on my ‘must visit’ list, so it felt like the perfect place to round off nearly a month of interrailing across Europe.
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Sadly, as much as there still is out there to see and do, nothing can last forever. After five months off work, my Grandma’s 90th birthday, two big trips, two continents, seven countries and innumerable experiences, it was time to come home.