On this Remembrance Sunday I'm also acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall and of our visit to Berlin almost this time last year.

The city was very badly damaged in the second world war and this is still very obvious today as the city has only very slowly started to rebuild itself and there are reminders everywhere of its troubled past.

The Holocaust Memorial

Modern use for the old wall

A lot of the newer buildings look very similar - very rectangular and very grey. But in a funny kind of way, they provide the backdrop to show off not only the city's bright yellow transport system but also the city's vibrant art - there is graffiti everywhere and it is done with skill and meaning.

Berlin Wall Art

Brandenburg Gate

There are some locations which offer a bird's eye view of the city, such as the department stores around Alexanderplatz

(C&A is alive and well and exists in Berlin, if anyone from the UK is missing it)

and the fantastic view from the top of the Berlin TV tower (especially good for us as we got there just as the sun was setting)

Sunset from the TV Tower in Berlin

Something we really liked about Berlin were the Buddy Bears which just kept popping up everywhere we went. Approximately 350 life-size fibre glass bears were originally decorated by artists and auctioned off for charity and bought by private business to display on their premises, being particularly popular with hotels.  In fact our hotel, having Australian connections, had an Australian themed bear decorated with indigeneous Australian art and, in true Australian style, was also standing on his head.

It seems that these Berlin bears may have started something because, as I understand it, the following year The United Buddy Bears became an international art exhibition to promote tolerance, understanding and the great concept of different nations and cultures living in peace and harmony. They travel around the world on display and have been in Rio de Janeiro for the summer but are due to be on display in Havanna next year.

These bears are a symbol of peace and unity and, as Angela Merkel has said today, "dreams can come true and nothing has to stay as it is". It's a positive thought for us all to hold on to.


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