I was 19 when I visited Berlin, it’s scary to think that was more than 10 years ago, but the feel of the city and the memory have stayed with me ever since. I was working in a nearby town and enjoying trying to speak a little German and getting to know the local area. It was a lovely summer weather wise and a perfect chance to explore.
I couldn’t have survived without the Lonely Planet for Berlin, it went everywhere with me in my handbag. I did most of the walking tours out of it too, spending my weekends wandering around the main sights and the lesser known interesting districts. I felt like I had a great feel for the city.
Previously I never had much historical knowledge about Germany apart from the very basic facts, so it was interesting to learn more and as I got to know the city more I felt like there was such a weight on it; that everyone there bore a certain responsibility and that they would never forget the past.
The information available, museums, information boards and memorials throughout the city impressed me and taught me a lot about the events of the past and the German people. Everyone I met was friendly, open and helpful to me and I quickly felt at home here.
In some ways it’s a good thing that I could hardly wrap my brain around the reality of the Second World War. I’m lucky to live in a time and place in the world where these stories are so alien to be I find it hard to believe they happened. But it is important to appreciate that the events were not all that far in the past and that they were also not very far from home.