You can’t go to Berlin and not visit Checkpoint Charlie, no matter how much of a tourist trap you may think it is. After all, as the entrance to the American sector of West Berlin, it has a major role in history.
It was dusk when I arrived at Friedrichstrasse, still down in the dumps from having seen only couples and families walking around in Museum Island earlier that day (Read: Loneliness of the Long-Term Solo Traveler).
I suppose I should have appreciated it more; going past Checkpoint Charlie had represented freedom for a lot of people behind The Wall.
However, all I saw was just a lot of tourists posing by the “guards” at the hut at the border between East and West Berlin. They were probably staying in one of the nice Berlin hotels, and didn’t mind that the guards charged them 2 euros for each photo they’d taken.
I didn’t bother to have my picture taken; not only did I think it was a waste of money, I also didn’t feel like it.
One interesting thing there was the placard that read “You are leaving the American Sector” when you’re coming from what used to be West Berlin, and on the other side, “You are entering the American Sector.”
Of course that was already a copy. Everything there was just a copy. If you want to see the original, for whatever reason, you can go to the Museum nearby (Admission: €12.50).
After a few minutes of just walking around, I dropped by McDonald’s, wanting to buy a caramel sundae, my comfort food whenever I would get depressed. I never had to, though, as when I passed by a table, I overheard Filipinos talking in our language. It served as an instant mood-lifter for me! I didn’t even have to approach them and talk to them. Merely hearing my country’s language already improved my mood.
I left Checkpoint Charlie much happier than when I arrived there. It was ironic that it was in McDonald’s–where an 18-year-old East German was killed by border guards in 1960s–that I found what I needed to enjoy the rest of my stay in Berlin.
Have you been to Checkpoint Charlie? What did you think of it?