We have taken notice of the credit crunch and rather than not travelling we have downgraded from hotels to hostels and saved quite a bit on accommodation. Arriving late on the Friday night, we headed up to the hostel's rooftop bar for our free welcome drink. When we returned, it was to find our US army room-mates snoring peacefully. Ahhh the life of a hostel!
On Saturday we joined a free walking tour that friends had suggested to us. There were around 300 people there and we were separated into groups of about 30 people. We spent about 3 1/2 hours walking around the main sights of Berlin with our guide. Our guides' personal interest was in Street Art so we got a few extra local artworks thrown in as well.
The weekend we were there was the 60th anniversary of democracy so the area around the Brandenburg Gate was having a free concert lasting all day.
The famous German band - Pur. We didn't understand a word!
Our free walking tour leader - Summer from California
This part of the wall is fenced off and next to where Hitlers Gestapo was based. The wall encircles the area of West Berlin which was considered to be West Germany.
For our final few hours on Monday we decided to see the view from the Reichstag (home of the Berlin government). After enjoying the sunshine in the slow moving queue for an hour we decided that our time was better spent elsewhere. There is a 1.3km section of wall that is known of the East Side Gallery. It is the largest open-air gallery in the world with its sections painted by groups of artists from all over the world in the first few months after reunification as a memorial to freedom of expression. Due to graffiti vandalism and the heavy flow of traffic that flows nearby it has suffered greatly. A restoration project is underway, with one section completed 5 years ago, and a large section being worked on whilst we were there.
We also need to mention that there was a protest down the street from our hostel. We had noticed quite a number of police around on our way back but a couple of hours later the riot gear was out. There was a slight diversion on the way to dinner, but all in all it was a very peaceful event. 1000 riot police 1 - Protesters Nil.