Oh yes you can.One late afternoon my sister and I decided to walk a few blocks from our hotel to the Brandenburg Gate and then to a bigger Christmas Market (Bigger that the one near our hotel.) that I had seen on the bus earlier in the day.
Yea, we decided to take a walk... in a town that we were unfamiliar with... without food or water... and without directions, on a very cold rainy evening. I have always had a really good sense of direction, (I actually brag about it.) and it has only failed me in a few situations, I rely on this sense of direction without hesitation. I inherited this ability from my father. He always said that you will never get lost if you remember landmarks and "Know your directions (north, south, east and west)." "Look at the sky.", he would say.
And it works... most of the time. I always seem to know what direction I'm going. But, in Berlin, this sense of direction acquired some kind of inner ear malfunction.
That evening my sister and I walked down past the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, one more block, to the Brandenburg Gate. We walked into a gatehouse, one of two corner buildings that flank each side of the gate, and marveled at the wonderful columns and style of the building and the lights that are suspended from the ceiling. There was an abundant combination of neoclassic, Greek/roman architecture with some 1920's accessories. Considering what this city has been through, the wars it has fought and the restoration it has gone through every hundred years or so, it all looks pretty good. It all seems to work together beautifully.
was another memorial to the Russian soldiers. I didn't remember seeing this one before. So we decided to turn around and go back toward the Brandenburg gate, where there were lights and activity.
On our way back to the Gate we saw this plaque embedded in the sidewalk.
The Brandenburg Gate has always been something I wanted to see. It's the iconic landmark of Berlin and was the only structure that was left standing in this area in 1945, after the War was over.
The first Brandenburg Gate was built in 1734, when a wall was constructed around the edge of the city. This wall was not for defensive purposes but for controlling the flow of people and goods to and from the city.
The current Brandenburg Gate was constructed between 1788 and 1791 as part of a programme of building works to improve the wall and many of its gates. The Gate was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans in the classicist style and in 1793 the Quadriga, the triumphal statue of the winged goddess of peace driving a four-horse chariot, was added on top of the gate.
In 1806 the Quadriga was stolen by Napoleon following the occupation of Berlin by the French army and it was removed to Paris. It was returned to Berlin in 1814 following Napoleon's fall from power, and the statue's olive wreath was exchanged for an Iron Cross.
I think this is the most beautiful chariot. A chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.
My sister is showing you how to look very confident under the Brandenburg gate, when you're cold and tired. Her older sister said "Smile for the camera."... and she did.
Across the Pariser Platz and continued on down the wide boulevard,
By this time I couldn't feel my legs anymore. We are talking LONG blocks and it was very, very cold. I was praying for a taxi sighting.
We finally saw the entrance to the Market. There were hundreds of people out there enjoying the evening.
We looked around, bought a few things but really needed some food.
And overseeing the whole Gendarmenmarkt was a guardian. A winged lion that represented, to me, the toughness of these German people.
Then we found a small cafe that was INSIDE ... and warm. It was kind of a tent but there were solid walls and the warmth must have been from all the people that were in there. No one spoke English but somehow we conveyed, to the young waiter, that we would like some soup and a bottle of water. It was a miracle. He came back with good hot soup, bread and our bottled water. I was never so grateful for hot food in my life.
We had no idea how to get back to the hotel without retracing our steps and that was not going to happen.
They would have found me lying on the steps of a store front the next morning. The headline would have read.
Stupid American found dead a few blocks from her hotel. Cause of death: Inability to withstand mild winter conditions on streets of Berlin.
As it turned out, the fates were with us. We walked out of the Market and crossed the street. There before us, pulled over and waiting for someone, was a TAXI. I ran over and knocked on his window and said, "Are you working? Can you give us a ride? Please!"
Can you believe I said that? Isn't that what he does for a living?
Sis and I jumped into the cab and we went through this "nobody knows what anyone is talking about" conversation about where we were staying and he said, "Yes, The Berlin Marriott, OK." He never said another word to us, nor we to him, until we arrived at the hotel. It was worth every euro we had to pay... and the tip.
The next day we left for Dresden.
In retrospect, it was a grand adventure. In reality it was beyond what a 67 year old with bad feet should have been doing on a rainy, cold, early winter night in Berlin, when she had been walking and touring all day long... and this walk had been my idea. But I got to see the Brandenburg Gate, at night, with its beautiful Chariot driven by a Roman goddess. Now, I'm glad we did it.
Our warm hotel room never looked so good.