Berlin Beach Party

Jill and Chris A young American named Todd was the guide for our bike tour. Our group followed him though the busy streets of Berlin – over small bridges spanning the canals. “Venice of the North” Todd yelled over the traffic – pointing at a grouping of palatial buildings under remodel. My impression of Berlin came from black and white photos of destruction. The city wasn’t like that at all. It was every bit as charming as any other European city we’d seen.

Todd explained that at the beginning of the 20th century, Berlin rivaled Paris as Europe’s cultural center – great minds flocked here. We found a skyline is crowded with cranes and scaffolding.

In the shadow of the magnificent Brandenburg gate, Todd highlighted a place the kids could appreciate – the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out a window.

“What an idiot.” Alex said.

Occasionally, we rolled over a series of inlaid bricks, denoting where the wall stood for nearly thirty years. We followed them to a quiet street. We stopped at the driveway of an apartment complex. This was the location of Hitler’s bunker – where he allegedly shot a bullet into his head as the Russian army infiltrated his city. After the war, the bunker was filled with concrete. There were no signs or markers – not even a t-shirt vendor in sight. Understandably, Germans want to forget this part of their history. I nearly fell off my bike when one of the apartment tenants honked his horn behind me – our group was blocking the entrance gate.

Nearby sat another vacant lot covered with sand – this one had colorful chairs and umbrellas. Music of The Ventures played over the sound system. “Hitler’s Party Beach,” Todd joked. I guess makeshift “beach bars” like this were all the rage.

NEXT: Forget All Your Troubles, Forget All Your Cares

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