Day 17: Exploring Berlin and Hamburg in the sunshine

What a change to the weather! The sun was shining and not a single cloud in the sky, we were able to enjoy Berlin at its best. This city is absolutely perfect for disabled visitors as I mentioned in my previous post- so many dropped curbs and planned pathways, such a change from Prague and we are so grateful for that! We noticed that both the tram and the bus service were both extremely wheelchair friendly, with pavements meeting the vehicle doorways very well, but Berlin is deceptively small and everywhere is quite close despite how it looks on the map.

We visited the Reichstag, which was holding tours inside but I didn't notice if there was a ramp to the main entrance (there may have been a side entrance for disabled visitors) as we were enjoying the sunshine so much. A few minutes later and we were at the Brandenburg gate, and onto the memorial for the murdered Jews in Europe. The site is so vast it's difficult to describe, the entire site covers around 19,000 metres squared. It's beautiful yet eerie, calm but also tense with all the straight lines and strong shadows, I actually really enjoyed it here.

Little did we know that we were walking along the route of the Berlin Wall, and next we stopped at Checkpoint Charlie where visitors were able to pass through the wall when it was standing. My PAs parents had passed through it 30 years ago and so it was great to see it in modern day. You can have your photo taken there with American soldiers but with the 30degree heat on our shoulders we didnt want to queue. Unknowingly we passed the Topology of Terror, an open museum about the uses of propaganda and forms of terror (not torture) during the reign of Hitler. I'm not really one for heavy museums but this was really interesting and this is the only place that has original Berlin Wall in situ without modern graffiti. But the sun was beaming down on us and we wanted something for lunch so we didn't hang about too long. Guided by our hunger we found an all you can eat sushi buffet for €5.60 (small) and €7.20 (large), as they seem to be everywhere in Berlin as we wanted to be in the cool. 

Next onto Hamburg, where I took the driving position for a while but again had to swap back due to pain. Having the extra gel in the cushion has helped dramatically but sitting in the same position for 2 hours straight means I'm just 'bottoming out' of it again and it's very painful. Roll on new seat cushion when I'm home, I'm getting desperate now. I feel so useless as I can physically drive and can absolutely cope with the challenge as the van drives like a dream, but my cushion is letting me down. Atleast I can recline and wiggle for comfort when I'm in the passengers side.

Hamburg was simply stunning, another complete suprise. We felt swanky in the hotel Rennaisance who put us in the Junior Deluxe suite with complimentary parking, wifi and huge fruit platter. Thank you to Inger for your letter wishing us well on our journey, we really appreciated the luxury that the hotel provided! David was straight out on the balcony and my PA 'starfished' across her own kingside bed, everyone was happy! The room was huge giving me plenty of space for the hoist, the photo doesn't do it any justice and I couldn't fit in the dressing area and hallway into the photo! As the suite wasn't an accessible one I don't think it's necessary for me to comment on the bathroom but just know that there wasn't a wetroom.

We wandered around the harbour with all of its expensive shops to find somewhere for dinner as the sun began to set. Everywhere had large wide pavements and was very accessible as far as I could tell. We didn't explore too much as we were all tired from the heat and our trek around Berlin, but this place suprised us all as we thought it would be very industrial.

Looking forward to a good night slept in our big cosy bed! Off to Leeuwarden in the Netherlands tomorrow to meet an old friend, it's been 13 years so we have a lot of catching up to do! Love Tori xx