Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Other Areas of Berlin

Actual date of this event: 30 October to 4 November

Berlin is pretty different than the other cities I have visited. I feel like the city is trying to find its identity - it wants to grasp a new culture, but doesn't want to let go of its history. Because of this, it has something for everyone. There a quite a few different areas - some are built up, some full of hippies, some are gentrifying, some are touristy, some full of families, and some are holding on to its past. The city is quite spread out with various things to see all around. Other than the areas I have already covered (here and here), we wandered into a few others that we had read about online. Note: You will notice different skies in pictures as we did not wander in the order I have posted.
{street art on a random building - apparently hashtags work in street art too?}
Located in Mitte (historic city center), Luke and I enjoyed Hackescher Markt. We ate one of our better meals of Berlin at Weihenstephaner. My beef goulash and hefeweizen dunkel (with a banana flavor) were delicious, and Luke enjoyed sausages and a sizable pork roast. Hackescher Markt is technically one of the more touristy squares because it has a large number of restaurants with outdoor seating and an outdoor market. Maybe we paid more for our food than we should have... but at least it was good!
 {the s-bahn runs along the top of the building on the left}
{beef goulash with pretzel dumplings and sour cream}
Just around the corner from Hackesher Markt, we headed north along Rosenthaler Strasse, and got lost in a number of courtyards (Hackesche Courtyards). As we walked, we saw a bunch of people going in and out of a little walkway, so naturally we had to follow. Once we entered, we saw a bunch of boutique shops and a few restaurants in a courtyard. Then we saw another little walkway going off of that courtyard, so we went through there. It opened up to more shops, and we saw two walkways going off of that square. This continued about two more times and then we came to a dead end. As we tried to make our way out, we were so confused, it was like a labyrinth! We almost got sucked in another night, but we resisted!
{Wouldn't this suck you in as well??}
Not far from the courtyards of doom is Oranienburger Strasse. This was one of the "more interesting" streets in the city, but we knew this ahead of time. Along this road, we saw the New Synagogue with three gorgeous domes on top. These pictures do not do it justice as they are so shiny they can't be captured in pictures.

Did you know brothels and prostitution are legal in Germany? Well, along Oranienburger Strasse, we saw 8 prostitutes. We were expecting to see some as we walked because we knew this street was where they hung out. It was quite funny, we said "let's go see if any hookers are out" and as soon we turned the corner, one was standing right there. Then we came across a JFK cut out, and Luke said "take a picture of me with the hookers behind me." So I did but you can't see them... there were three across the street. I'm sure they didn't appreciate seeing my camera flash aimed in their direction!
{iPhone flash is absolutely terrible!}
Also on Oranienburger Strasse is the Kunsthaus Tacheles, an art house. In 1990, plans were made to demolish the building but the artists took over the building. They used it as a studio, and it also included a nightclub and cinema. Finally in 2012, the artists left peacefully and the building has been closed to the public.
{art on the exterior of the building}
In a completely separate area of town, we visited Ku'Damm (Kurf├╝rstendamm). The road is a major shopping road and the zoo is very close to here as well. We wanted to check out the area, but the only thing that was really interesting to us was the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The original church was bombed during the Second World War with only parts of it still standing. Instead of tearing down the spire, it was decided to turn the church into a memorial. In the picture below, you can see that it is still being renovated although it was expected to be finished at the end of the summer. To the right of the church is a bell tower that was added after the war.
On the side opposite of the bell tower is the new church. Those little squares go all the way around the building and are blue stained glass windows! It was a cloudy day for our visit, but it was still beautiful inside. I am sure the color is even more vibrant with the sun shining!

{the best panoramic I could get}
We also visited two other areas of the city which were our two favorites... even though I have no pictures. To the east of Sch├Ânhauser Allee, Prenzlauerberg had two different vibes in my opinion. The area north of Danziger Strasse was more a family friendly area. We saw a bunch of moms with strollers, toddlers running around, and children on bikes. It was a very nice area no doubt! The area south of Danziger Strasse was more of a hippie area. It had younger folks and wasn't as clean... not that it was dirty. Both areas were full of shops, restaurants and cafes, and it was definitely a "local" area rather than full of tourists. The other area that we really liked was Friedrichshain (near the East Side Gallery) to the east of Warschauer Strasse. A gentrifying area for sure! We walked up and down every single street, and they were all full of shops, cafes and restaurants with lots of outdoor seating. I didn't see too many hostels in Berlin until we got to this area, so you know this was where the party was :-)
{Trabant Cars (aka Trabi) - a historic vehicle created by East Germany, named as one of the 50 worst cars ever made, we saw them all over the city. They can be found in the States too!}
We always enjoy wandering around by foot in a city because we get a good sense of what it would be like to live there. We come across some very interesting stuff by doing this, and Berlin probably has the best of them! I couldn't help but take pictures which resulted in a collection of these quirky sights.
 {we saw tons of "pop-up" stores and this one was full of onesies! awesome!!!}
 {I am sure this a regular clothing store elsewhere, but who names their store this?!?!}
 {interesting name for a coffee shop - it was good though :-)}
{It's always funny to me how non-English speaking countries describe their restaurant - "China Restaurant" "Japan Restaurant" "India Restaurant"}
Lastly, over 100 Buddy Bears can be found all around Berlin. As an art project that started in 2001, Buddy Bears were created "to capture the hearts of Berliners and their guests in their various designs". In 2002, over 140 bears were created to represent the countries recognized by the United Nations and displayed in a circle to represent peace and harmony. Here are a few of my favorites:

I bet y'all are about tired of my Berlin posts, but have no fear... this was the last one! Except for our day trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. I am not quite sure how to write that one, so it will take some time. Anyway, we really love Berlin! I really didn't even have the city high on my list, it was Luke's idea, but I am so glad that we went! If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it and give yourself some time to enjoy all of the different parts. 

Built in 2006, Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station) is the largest two-level train station in Europe.

Click here to learn how to comment using Disqus.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Berlin: Tiergarten and Reichstag

Actual date of this event: 30 October to 4 November

Tiergarten is the largest park in Berlin at 580 acres and the second largest in Germany after Englischer Garten in Munich. It lies in West Berlin and was founded as a hunting area for the king (way back in the day). During the Second World War, many statues were badly damaged and then all but a few of the 200,000 trees were cut down due to a shortage of coal needed to heat homes. Park restoration began in 1955 by adding new trees, shrubs, and pathways. Since we visited Berlin in mid-fall, many trees had been stripped of their leaves already, but we saw a few vibrant colors!

The long road that runs east to west through the park is interrupted by Grosser Stern, a large roundabout. In the center is the Victory Column, a monument to commemorate the Prussian victory over Denmark, Austria and France (in three different wars). Getting an up close and personal look at the Victory Column was one of our main reasons for our walk thru Tiergarten.

It is possible to visit the top of the monument, but for a fee. We saw a line and had other things to see and do, so we kept moving.

We also visited the Soviet War Memorial which is located along the main road between the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate. The memorial was built by the Soviets in 1945 and is one of three in Berlin. It continued to stand after the war as Tiergarten was destroyed, and the Allies even supported the memorial even though it was located in the British Sector of West Berlin. We found a few tombs, and behind the columns we read about the construction of the memorial.

Luke and I kept walking toward Brandenburg Gate... well, Luke walked, and I kicked leaves. They were too tempting!
As I have said in a previous post, right next to Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag, the parliament building. (Thanks, Kristen, for giving me information on this otherwise we would not have visited!) Visitors need to book a time slot to visit the dome of the Reichstag, but the tour is free, so yippee!!
The dome is all glass, and there is a spiral walkway that leads all the way to the top. If you look closely in this next picture, you can see people moving along. (I just noticed that myself, hehe) Thanks, Luke, for capturing the flag moving, but I like it better to see the people moving :-)
After arriving to a temporary building... and showing a copy of our booking confirmation... and getting our IDs checked... and going through security... and then, with a small group, being escorted to the building... and then waiting for one door to close until the next would open... and then waiting for the elevator... and then going up the elevator... we finally arrived to the dome! Serious security up in there!!! Anyway, we were given a free audio guide so we would know what we were looking at. It was dark by the time we got to the very top, so we had zero clue what we were looking at most of the time. I knew this when I made the booking, but we couldn't find a better time to visit other than the evening... we needed to save our daytime for learning and reading. Anyway, we still got a few good views.
 {this picture was taken at the very beginning, the small gold tower on the left is the Victory Column}
{a picture toward Potsdamer Platz, the blue is the Sony Center}
{Brandenburg Gate, the building with the flag is the United States Embassy}
The dome is super duper cool! A large cone-like thing is covered in mirrors. Once we got to the top of the dome, we were essentially standing on the base of the cone.

 Along the way, I took pictures of myself in the mirrors. Luke rolled his eyes at this.
 {the pink dot is me!}
{hi, me!}
When reached very top of the spiral walkway, we learned that the dome is open! When it rains, the rain goes through. When it snows, the snow goes through. And since the dome is open on the top, they do not control the climate inside, so during our visit, we were pretty cold.
Underneath the dome is where parliament meets. The chairs are bright blue and when spiraling up the dome, you can see down into the room. At certain times, visitors can see a meeting, but our visit was not one of those times. Glass covers the room, so no rain or snow can get inside. The mirrors on the cone give parliament natural light.
Last neat thing about the dome is it has a "sun-visor" that moves around the circle blocking direct sunlight from entering the room below.
That about finishes up all of what we did in Tiergarten heading toward Brandenburg Gate. There are other things in Tiergarten like ponds and creeks, cafes, other memorials, and a palace, but I'd say kicking the leaves was my favorite!

Other posts on Berlin: Intro, Post 2Wall MemorialEast Side GalleryPost 5Ritter Sport ChocolatePost 7Post 8Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Tiergarten's pathways add up to about 14 miles (22.5 km) in length.
The spiral walkway in the Reichstag dome is 230 meters (about 0.15 miles) long.

Click here to learn how to comment using Disqus.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...