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I began my Easter holidays with an exciting and educational trip to Berlin. I went with a school group, which for obvious reasons will not be featured on this site. Our adventure started at 2.45 in the morning, when we met at school and loaded the coach for Heathrow Airport. Our plane flight was short and we soon landed at Berlin's Tegel Airport.
Alexander Platz After a brief rest, we took the Number 6 tram into the city and commenced on our own walking tour towards Alexander Platz. This area was the centre of activity in East Berlin before the wall came down in 1989, and continues to be a lively spot for meeting and shopping. At the little market, we shopped for Lebkuchen hearts, bratwurst, and jewellery and admired the culture of the locals. There is a train station in Alexander Platz, as well as the famous meeting point, the Welt Zeit Uhr (World Time Clock) which shows the time in various cities and countries around the world.
Spargel Punks
We walked south and encountered the Neptune Fountain, Museum Island, and the Red Town Hall, named after the colour of its bricks, not its political leanings. We reached the famous avenue called Unter den Linden where there was still a peace protest camp set up in the middle of the road. It was an interesting time to be in Berlin with the war going on in Iraq, and both the British and the American embassies were closed off and the roads guarded by armed guards.  Welt Zeit
Krieg  GTfcuk
 Dom 2  Red Town Hall
 GTGate We arrived at the Brandenburg Gate, through which we can now see the West from the East. Formerly our view would have been obstructed by the Wall, barbed wire, and armed guards. Nearby was the Adlon Hotel, where (we think) Michael Jackson recently dangled his baby out the window to the shock of spectators below.
 The next day, our tour guide Tim met us in the lobby and took us on a walking tour of the major sites. We started outside our hotel where he pointed out that the graffiti-covered stone outside the door was actually a piece of the Berlin Wall, which none of us had noticed before. Many of the things that Tim showed us were things we saw the previous day, but he did explain them in detail and point out new places such as the Platz where a famous book burning took place in 1933 and a memorial to the Federal Republic of Germany. He showed us the impressive Reichstag building, the German equivalent to the Houses of Parliament, which has a new dome that was designed by British architect Sir Norman Forster. A group of us climbed this dome at night to see a dizzying view of the city.  Tim Wall
 Buch platz  FDR memorial
 Reichtag  Reichtag 2
 Dom  Night Dom
These cycles can be hired at the train stations. They are monitored by satellite so they cannot be stolen.
GT Rollerbladers
These people were not posing at all. They were rollerblading and I thought he was worth the film.
 Bullet holes
There are bullet holes still in these columns
Amnesty International protesting the treatment of an Egyptian author
The Fehrnsehturm (TV tower) is the tallest structure in Berlin
I liked the sentiment.
GT Bears 2
Outside a toy shop
GT Bears
There's a rainbow in this photo
No souvenir is too silly. This hat was made in Odessa, Russia for the Soviet army.
A dizzying view was one of the many items that were on our Bingo Cards. Each pupil had her own card with 49 objects that she had to find and cross off. Some of the items we had to locate were: Converse sneakers (no one knew what these were), a Robbie Williams CD, rollerbladers, a donkey (can you believe we actually saw a live donkey as it walked past us on the pavement carrying none other than Jesus on his way to a Palm Sunday celebration!), an accordion, a white poodle, and a lava lamp. Four girls found every object on their card, and the winner of a cute cuddly panda bear was chosen from those four at random by one of the flight stewards on our return flight.
{short description of image}Lava
Not-so elusive bingo objects
Why does Robbie always show up on these pages?
Jesus on his donkey
Tim took us to Potsdamer Platz, a vibrant urban area whose modernism complements such images as one of the oldest traffic lights in Europe (right) and remnants of the Wall. Nearby, we had lunch at Marlene Dietrich Platz, where there was a cool blue sculpture of balloons by artist Jeff Koons. We saw other famous and interesting sites that day such as Checkpoint Charlie and the longest still-standing stretch of the Wall. Uhr
 Charlie sign Wall
Camp The next day, we took a bus to the sobering Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen. We toured the camp and took in the powerful reminders of the terrors of the past. We then took a bus to the Olympic stadium, which is a good example of the architecture of the Nazi regime and then we went off to the zoo, which is the largest in Europe. The zoo is the home of a placid panda bear, as well as thousands of other animals.
Arbeit Memorial
Let's not forget.
 Panda  Bear
GRBaths On our final full day, we visited the lovely gardens at Brandenburg's capital Potsdam, a gem of historical buildings such as the Castle Sanssouci, the Roman Baths, and the China House.
New Palace  China House
Flowers Gold
Nice butt
Dutch street Later that afternoon, we went into the town and shopped along some wonderful streets, such as the Dutch quarter, where many of us bought Easter gifts and souvenirs.
Eggs We returned to Alexander Platz on the last day for one final chance to shop and to eat a German lunch. We arrived back safe and sound in England where many happy family reunions took place.

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