After finishing our Starbucks on Alexanderplatz, our international family began our caffeine fueled cycling tour. Splitting into two groups, with each being led by a British guide (with one happening to be another Welshman to add to the two we already had) , we mounted our ‘Fat Tire’ bicycles, armed only with squeaky ducks to alert unsuspecting dogs. The traditional Welsh humour helped to spice up the complex history of the city.
Berlin really appears to be the city of contrast. Our track went with the line where there used to be the Berlin Wall, which used to be the border between two opposing ideologies just some 23 years ago. That what used to be the symbol of oppression is now a colourful symbol for freedom of expression.
Many of us were surprised at the amount of graffiti on the houses’ walls and roofs. Random hippie concerts with punk gatherings deepened an impression of a relaxed, artistic and liberal city.
We had a chance to ride around the most memorable places just on the second day of our stay, including the biggest Soviet Memorial in Berlin, this proves that Russians don’t do anything by halves and it’s size left us in a sense of awe. Our tour guide shared with us a great escape story that happened on the very spot we were stood on. As the story goes there were three brothers, two of which had escaped over the wall and had reached the east of Berlin, but the youngest brother was not with them so they hatched a plan. They told the younger brother to go for a run (apparently he was getting fat), so as he ran they arrived by hand gliders to rescue him as one shot guards from the air the other landed and took him away. The irony? The wall was torn down 6 months later. The evening culminated in a night walk through the Brandenburg Gate and eating some real German wurst. Returning to the academy after nine, everyone was a bit drained, and ready for bed, which explains our late blog entry!