After we left Berlin, we spent 6 days in 4 cities throughout Germany.
From what I remebered in German class, East Germany (in 1998) was still living in the ’60s, kind of like Cuba, and many of the buildings had not been repaired since WWII. Fortunately for Dresden, this was not true. It has been rebuilt and to us, looked no different to any of the Western German cities that would follow. When we were in New Zealand, we met some Germans who mentioned that most young people were fleeing East Germany to West Germany for a higher paying job and a higher standard of living. As unfortante as this is, from what we could tell, East Germany seems to be headed in the right direction. Germany is at the forefront of not only supplying loads of cash to East Germany, but also to the weaker countries of the European Union.
In Hamburg, we went to Ballinstadt. In the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, Hamburg was the world’s leading exporter of Homo sapiens (not only Germans, but mostly Polish under Russian oppression). Ballinstadt (actually the person running the place) was where these people would go before headed to the New World. Ballinstadt now is a museum that showed how people lived as they waited to go to the New World, explained the types of people, their origins, and what it took to leave Europe to the New World. As a side bonus, you could use the ancestry.com resources for free while you were there.
Köln boasts the largest Cathedral in Germany. After seeing St. Peters in the Vatican a few years ago, cathedrals really don’t impress me anymore. Other than that, Köln is pretty much a missable city.