Monday, 21 May 2018

That special excursion from Alex ..... taking in a big square, a very tall building and ending with a museum

This is a tram story, although along the way it reveals a bit of detective work, includes one of those preservation societies and ends in a museum which was once the HQ of the secret police.

And it started with a series of tram pictures posted by my friend Kathy when she was in Berlin.

Now I can’t resist a picture of a tram and so when she posted a collection on to social media I was hooked.

This is tram 5984 on route 63.

Intrigued I looked over my pocket guide to Berlin tram routes, but nowhere is there a route 63, although there was once a 60 and a 66 which trundled  respectively along  Schöneberg, Lindenhof – Charlottenburg, Königin-Elisabeth-Straße and Schöneberg, Wartburgplatz – Steglitz, Thorwaldsenstraße.

But number 60 was withdrawn in 1962 and 68 the following year.

Undeterred I went looking for Sonderfahrt which appears on the destination board at the front of the tram only to discover it is not a place but German for special excursion.

This in turn led me to Historic Preservation Association Nahverkerhr Berlin e.V which in association with the Berlin Transport Company was running a special trip on May 20 from the Alexanderplatz, to Hohenschönhausen, which is now a museum but was once the headquarters of the East German Communist Ministry of State Security, the Stasi.

The Society and the transport company run regular trips once a month between April and November using historic trams.

This Sunday  “depending on the weather and technical conditions, the Reko train and the T24 with 2 sidecar are to be used”.  Now I have no idea whether Kathy’s tram was the Reko or T24, but someone will which which save me a search.

The trip apparently cost 6 € for adults and 3 € for children between 6 and 14 and on that sunny day in Berlin there was a choice of the 11 am trip or another at 2pm.

The Berlin tram network is one of the oldest, having been established in 1865 and is the third largest tram system in the world beaten only by Melbourne and St Petersburg.

Just leaving me to say, that Alexanderplatz is a major transport hub, is often referred to as Alex by Berliners* and one of the buildings close by is  the iconic Fernsehturm or TV Tower which is the second tallest building in the European Union.

Location; Berlin

Pictures; tram 63, in Berlin, May 20, 2018, from the collection of Kathy Lee

*Actually being pedantic, and not wanting to be told off, when Berliners refer to Alexanderplatz, as Alex, they generally are referring to a larger neighbourhood stretching from Mollstraße in the northeast to Spandauer Straße and the Rotes Rathaus in the southwest or so Wikipedia tells me

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