Berlin – a Walk About

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Berlin is both modern and old, gritty but clean and youthful yet ageless. It is a city of contrasts…so much that most of the photos I shot in Berlin will end up being processed in Black & White…that just seems to fit. Berlin is definitely a city that should be on everyone’s Bucket List. It has so much history that goes beyond what you would ever learn from a book and the city itself is so alive with young and old, who are making sure their history is transparent.

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Berlin has a lot of architectural eye candy, both old and modern.

traffic-lite-man-225This cute little pedestrian traffic light symbol has a big name & history. Prior to German reunification in 1990, the two German states had different forms for the “Ampelmännchen,” with a generic human figure in West Germany, and a generally male figure wearing a hat in the east. The Ampelmännchen is a beloved symbol in Eastern Germany, “enjoy[ing] the privileged status of being one of the few features of communist East Germany to have survived the end of the Iron Curtain with his popularity unscathed. (Wikipedia)

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Remember the car hanging from the Zwinger ceiling in my Dresden post, HERE? I told you I would get back to that…the car is the Trabant. It was one of the very few cars available prior to the reunification of Germany. East Germans needed to sign up an average of 15 years prior to getting one to drive. Seriously! So you have a baby and order his car to be delivered when of age to drive??? Today, you can rent one to drive around Berlin. How fun is that? We saw a few of these “safari” Trabant caravans with the drivers honking and having a great time.

tv-tower-berlinWhen arriving in Berlin, a first-time tourist should visit the top of the tv tower, from communist era, and take in the city at a 360 degree birdseye view. The 2 below photos are taken from atop the tv Tower (the tall needle building in this photo,) looking toward Museum Island and the train station. Museum Island in the center of Berlin at the northern tip of the Spree Island – there are five world-renowned museums, and over 50 museums on the island.

 

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Berlin is also a walkable city, we hoofed-it for 2 days seeing just about every sight on our to-see list. Our modern hotel, Leonardo Hotel, was in mitte Berlin, meaning center city, so it was convenient to Starbucks & an Irish pub everything. We were fortunate to, again, have my nephew, Scott and Marie, as our tour guides, as they were in my Frankfurt & Dieburg post. So arriving to destinations was no problem for US, but…Berlin city transit is so good that any non-guided tourist can quickly get around the city and to nearby smaller towns both affordably and easily. The train station is city-center, like many German train stations. We laughed when we heard, “The train station is a ‘Mall with trains’.” That describes it! Berlin train station has a gorgeous multi-level modern mall that is huge.

Berlin is an International haven for foodies, but the Doner Kebap is not to be missed! The meat is high quality veal cooked on a vertical spit and shaved off into a pita pocket. Veges and sauces are added, then go for it! The Doner, turkish food, at 3.50€ it is great street food.

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We visited the Jewish Museum…lots a stairs and walking. It is a very modern building and its exhibits use the shape of the building to their favor. One exhibit, called EXILE, is rows of tall cement pillars on uneven ground. The secluded and off-balance walk through it signifies the exiled Jews and Immigrants as they were driven from Germany scattered throughout the world. The loneliness and insecurity, having lost one’s familiar surroundings and friends is felt walking the exhibit. A similar free-to-the-public memorial is in another part of Berlin. We wandered through it too, it is huge and more of a maze. That one is called the Holocaust Memorial. Both are powerful memorials. Here are photos of them.

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Aerial view of the Jewish Museum Berlin: Libeskind Building, Old Building, Garden of Exile, Holocaust Tower, Museum Garden © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Luftbild und Pressefoto – Robert Grahn

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Holocaust Memorial, by architect Peter Eisenman. Photo sourcstyle=”border:none;”e: Bustler.net

Before leaving Berlin for Potsdam, a small city side-trip, to break up our walking tours of Berlin, we met our “guides” at their apartment. That in itself was an adventure for us because we had to, on our own, take the Berlin city train, with a few transfers…but we made it. Thanks to travel buddy, Steve. Actually, we were carrying the champagne to make mimosa’s… so we had a backup plan, if we got totally lost, LOL. Scott & Marie had prepared, for us, a delicious German “Breakfast Before Potsdam.” You can see how good it was, and how cute and modern their apartment is.

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Stop by MML tomorrow for a little more “Berlin.”   The Wall was pretty interesting to see and amazing to photograph. So…before leaving Germany, heading for Poland, I want to share with you the Wall, in a separate post, with less talk and with a fun video of a busker (say what?)  

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Thanks for stopping by,

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