For all the high tech engineering wizardry that symbolizes the modern German car industry, the Trabant 601 was the absolute antithesis of it all. The slow, smoky Trabi was a perfect icon for the failure of the ironically named German Democratic Republic. Once the Berlin Wall fell (twenty years ago next month), many of these little machines trundled across from East to West, as people suppressed for 40 years tried to escape.
Today, the number of surviving Trabis has dwindled, but as we made our way from Wolfsburg to Berlin via Dresden this week, we actually spotted several of them on the road. It wasn't until we approached the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, however, that we hit the gold mine. There, turning the corner, were a whole string of Trabants. A bit of investigation after the fact revealed this was a Trabi-Safari. Trabi-Safari is a company that offers sightseeing tours of Berlin's old East side or Dresden in a fleet of Trabants -- some of which are even convertibles. The one-hour tours cost about €30 to €40 (about $50 USD) and let you see some of the landmarks of that dark time. What better way to get a ride in a Trabi?