My first visit to West Berlin was in 1962 when I was eleven years old, where we actually we lived in West Berlin for the next three years. The Berlin wall had just been completed and it was a brittle and dangerous time in history. My Dad was in the British army…and despite the daily horrors that were taking place, he moved us all…my Mum and six children in tow, to live in Berlin. Frequently I was taken into East Berlin for the day. I met East Germans in their plight and regimented Russian soldiers alike. My mother was never fearful, therefore, therefore neither was I. We were prepared in depth for atomic warfare … but we saw life as one big adventure…the good and the bad, the dangers and unknowns…
So having gained such a love for the “real” German people, their kindnesses and their culture, I often longed to visit there again. Then the door opened while on one of our missions to help Russian orphans, our small team were convoying a shipping container load of humanitarian aid to Russia. Our charity Treasures of the Heart Inc. sent a shipping container to London. There it was picked up by our truck driver friend Bob Robinson. He took it to his British farm and prepared for transit in his truck. In July 1999 He ferried to Belgium, and met the rest of the team in Berlin. After two nights in Berlin we were onward bound to Poland, then Belarus, and finally arriving in Russia. It was indeed a great adventure!
Berlin 35 years later… East and West Berlin were divided during the Cold War, however, today it’s known for its art scene, nightlife and modern architecture. More importantly East Berliners are now free, and the Berlin wall has been down since 1989. Their recovery has been difficult, but outstanding.
I cried when I first witnessed the now destroyed Berlin Wall in 1999. And in 2005 when Donna and I were about to turn a corner we suddenly were overwhelmed with great sadness. When we turned the corner we found a memorial, with a large cross and photo for each person who died trying to escape the imprisoned Berlin. One can still to this day, be engulfed with overwhelming emotions, that result from such a tumultuous history…
Berlin is also a wondrous city…full of life and vigor. The city is very handicapped friendly. Great access for our Luggies with sidewalk ramps, and easy access to most restaurants. Approximately a third of Berlin consists of parks, gardens, forests, rivers and lakes. Most of the 175 museums and theaters are already accessible. Their subways (U-Bahn), trams, buses and S-Bahn are accessible by ramp or elevators for handicapped people.
We traveled around the sights with ease. Especially the Brandenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall Memorial. This is how the visitors can get an impression how the border fortifications developed until the reunion. And, oh yes, shopping was a breeze….