Postcard of the Week: Berlin Wall, Germany., Berlin Wall, 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, East Berlin, West Berlin.Flashback to July 21, 1977, and the day I crossed the Berlin Wall. I’m reminded of this day because of the events at the weekend held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down. Not many Aussies visited East Berlin in those days, least of all a trio of unaccompanied minors (my cousin and I were 16 and my sister 17, and our grand trip of Europe sans parents was formative in the development of a lifelong love of travel). We crossed the border at Checkpoint Charlie (photo at left) and were flush with funds, having changed our Marks at a West German bank where the exchange rate was a zillion times higher than it was in the east (you weren’t supposed to do that, but that’s the beauty of being young and naïve). There was little to buy in the shops so we ate like kings – or at least as extravagantly as one could in ‘70s East Berlin. Apart from a copy of the Communist Manifesto, these are my only mementoes of that day. It was expensive to develop film so we didn’t take many photos, and there must have been some nervousness about photographing up close. The other photo is of the Brandenburg Gate, just inside the wall. At the height of the Cold War, no-one could ever have imagined the wall coming down; it’s incredible to think that it’s now just a distant memory.

Photo & text © Christine Salins

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  • It was a thrilling visit; I felt like we were going to the moon! I remember the nervous wait at Checkpoint Charlie when our passports were taken away to be examined, knowing we had all the illegally acquired marks in our pockets. And trying to find something to spend them on other than the Manifesto and a DDR flag was near impossible. We did have an excellent 3 course meal in a workers’ restaurant though – I can still remember it both because it was a welcome break from our backpacker diet of bread and peanut butter, and because the main course was chicken and grapes in a creamy sauce, a pairing which seemed so exotic at the time!

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