30 November 2013

Walking the Berlin Wall Trail

Early this year, I snatched a copy of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2013. And as I was reading it, I noticed that the Berlin Wall Trail was listed as one of the best wall walks, together with other items such as the Great Wall of China. I did a little bit of research, and thought that this might be a good summer project.

So I decided to do it when the weather became pleasant. This trail is broken down into 14 different sections, each ranging between 7 and 21 kilometers long. And what is better is that every section begins and ends near a public transportation station, either a bus stop or a metro or a S-Bahn station is nearby. So sometime in May, I started this trail, walking from Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Strasse. This was the only section I did with a friend. It was still within the city, and I saw points of interest that was already familiar to me.

After that, I went on my own. The next leg was from Warschauer Strasse to Schöneweide, but I was a little over-eager and therefore walked the third leg as well, going all the way to Schönefeld. The resulting 25 kilometers of walking actually gave me a little bit of knee pain, so I rested for a few weeks after that. The trail in that section took me to places I haven't been yet, such as canals, and the trail that is right next to a freeway.

The trail from Schönefeld goes west, and follows the border of Berlin with Brandenburg. This took a couple of legs, and I walked along trails traversing flowers (the flowers blooming around Teltow were quite nice), all the way until I reached Potsdam. Then, the section that went around Wannsee was very picturesque as well, as it followed the shores of various lakes in that area. I also loved the fact that the trail included a ferry crossing, from Wannsee to Kladow.

From Kladow, the trail went north, hugging the city's borders from Kladow, all the way to Staaken. I probably would not be familiar with this area at all if not for the wall trail. Reaching Staaken, I headed northeast to reach Hennigsdorf, and the trail again follows a body of water here, this time, the Havel River.

Hennigsdorf perhaps is the northernmost section of the trail, from which it turns east again, heading for Hohen Neuendorf. From this point, the trail follows the current railway line of the S-Bahn, which brought me to Wollankstrasse. From there, the trail enters the city center again, as I found myself walking through already familiar places, such as Mauerpark, Bernauer Strasse, Nordbahnhof, Brandenburger Tor, and finally, Potsdamer Platz.

I reached my destination, which was also my origin, about 5 months later.

It was such an interesting experience, this sort of circumnavigating the city; well, half of the city. It sends a little bit of chill to think that once, everything in my right was enclosed by the wall that I was tracing. It puts some perspective on things; West Berlin was huge; yet it was still enclosed by a wall that became a symbol of the division of Europe. Following the trail allowed me to get to know more about the history of the city I currently call home. And now that I have finished the trail, it does give me some sort of feeling of accomplishment.

So, I wonder what is next. Maybe I'll find some other wall trail to follow. Or maybe I'll find another trail without a wall to work on. Who knows, the Annapurna Circuit Trek, maybe?

2 comments:

  1. Pretty cool, walking history like that!

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    1. Zhu,

      Definitely! It was one of the most enjoyable things I did this past summer. :)

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