the other side of the coin.
05.06.2011 - 07.06.2011 29 °C
After a long day kicking about Brussels waiting for our late nigh coach to Berlin, we got to see a much uglier side of Belgium. Like any big city, you get drunks, junkies and beggers everywhere you turn. But it's still worth seeing, with six H&Ms in one street. There are plenty of museums in brussels, but they all cost. Even if it's only a couple of euros we still need to be tight with our spending, so we found an old church with a bit of grass and lay there most of the day, watching the hoards of tourists stuffing their faces with waffels and ice cream ticking off all the places they have come to see. I read a quote earlier that said "The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see."
This time the coach was much better. We chose to go with Eurolines who is the sister company to the national express (not so good.) With loads of space and hardly any passengers we got to stretch out. The only time we got woke up was when a large border control guy came on to check all the passports. We woke up in Berlin about 8.30am and it has hot beyond belief, suddenly we realized we hadn't learned any German phrases other than yes and no. After making an arse of myself to the train attendant we managed to get a couple of tickets which last all day, which came in handy as we kept getting on the wrong train. (we still keep doing it.) The Berlin S-Bahn is a pretty great system, getting around Berlin is so easy and cheap and it only costs a couple of euros.
After our first couple of days in Belgium, we realized that we need to budget better. It's so easy to forget that we need to make money last and we're not just on holiday. So we've started shopping in supermarkets, all the hostel's will probably have a kitchen and cooking facilities. The one we're in just now is great, they even do cooking classes and the stuff that's left over is free for guests to use. No more eating out or visiting every museum the city has to offer, unless there's something we specifically want to see.
Today we went to the German history museum, to look at the second world war from the German perspective. It's weird because you see what state the country was in pre war and what sparked it to happen, which leaves you feeling more sympathetic and understanding to the German people. After the first world war Germany was left in a mess, with the majority unemployed and starving, which is why the popularity in a national state. There was a lot of German people who fought against the Nazi party, but found themselves either imprisioned or killed, there was no freedom of speech once it took off. We then braved a massive thunder storm to go see what was left of the Berlin wall. Each section of the wall has been turned into a bit of art work. It goes on longer than we expected, well worth seeing. Berlin is a great city to visit with it's large park in the city and zoo which if you walk around the walls you can see in. (well we are trying to save money.) The people have been very friendly and chatty, though I have no idea what they are saying and there's a relaxed vibe to the city with very cool architecture and great graffiti on buildings. Well worth visiting.
On the last day we went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the only preserved one in Berlin. We didn't like the idea of visiting as tourists, wanting to photograph ourselves just to show others that we had been there. I was interested if the place would still hold a bad feeling of what had happened there as so many others have said, or would the grass grow over and flowers spring as if it was just any other place. It's very disturbing to read the surviving prisioners stories and to read them all would take more than a day. I didnt feel like there was evil lingering there though Sarah felt there was a cold feeling, when we walked down into the cellar. It was cold, but I don't think it was anything ghostly. When you know of the horrific events that happened there, that is what effects you most. I worry that the many that visit the place don't read the information that is provided, read about the experiments, torturing, and the strengh and determination to surrive a place like that, but go to say they have been, missing the importance of having a place like that open to the puplic and trying to ensure that such things never happen again.
The next stop we will make is in Gdansk, Poland. We still aren't too sure the stop after that.