I took a short city break to Berlin this weekend to soak up some of that good beer and Cold War atmosphere - and while exploring what used to be the DDR before the Wall came down, I realized that as much as the Brandenburg Gate was a symbol of the city so was a certain automobile...
The Trabant - one of the, uh, “finest” machines created by Communism - is everywhere in Berlin, crowding out VW’s friendlier Beetle and classic Samba van. Every souvenir store is heavy with them in all shapes and sizes, you can drive one in a ‘safari’ tour around the city, and there’s also a museum dedicated to them (sadly I didn’t have time to view it, though).
Die-cast Trabants are everywhere in Berlin, in a panoply of colours and decos that will make your head spin. Welly-brand cars have cornered the market (I reckon 90% of their make of this casting must sell in Berlin!) but there’s lots of other knock-offs...
Naturlich, the Trabi Museum (details here) just around the corner from the famous Checkpoint Charlie has the most of them...
They told me that in the old days, people in East Germany called the Trabant “the longest car on the road”.
How so, I asked?
“The Trabant measure 12 metres,” they said. “2 meters of car and 10 metres of smoke.”
Postscript: Although I did resist the urge to buy a Trabi of my own, in the end I couldn’t resist getting something at the airport as a reminder of my German excursion - something a little more my speed...