Gamiila (gamiila) wrote,

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Back from Berlin

Berlin is quite an easy city to get around in. You buy a week ticket at the Kundenzentrum in the new and shiny Hauptbahnhof, validate it once, and can then get on the Strassenbahn, S-Bahn and U-Bahn, which seem to run continuously and always on time, without a second thought. There are no portals, and no rummaging in bags or riffling through pockets to find the blasted thing and gain access -- you just get on and get on with it. It's pretty relaxed, and that's my overriding impression of the the city as well.

Prices in Berlin are pretty relaxed, too; esp. in the former East-Berlin, where a slap-up meal for two including dessert and coffee set us back around 35 euros, and lunch frequently cost no more than a tenner.

I like Berlin. It's not as vibrant or as busy as London, Paris or New York, but it's got its own, uniquely pleasant, atmosphere. And there's loads and loads to see. On the last full day of my trip for instance, I visited the Babylon Mythos Und Wahrheit exhibition in the Pergamon Museum, which I would advise anyone to take in if they have a chance. You never saw so many Mesopotamian artefacts together, top pieces from all the most prestigious collections in the world, from the Ishtar Gate to the Codex Hammurabi, and several scale models of E-temen-an-ki, as well as statues and everyday objects.

Here I am at Bernauer Strasse, where a stretch of the Berlin Wall has been preserved which is going to be turned into an even more impressive monument over the coming years.

We also paid a visit to Rathaus Schöneberg, because my travel companion, who studied politics at uni, has a particular interest in dead world leaders...and he was in for a special treat, because while he had come for the plaque outside commemorating Kennedy's 1963 visit when he uttered those cryptic words 'Ich bin ein Berliner', inside there was an exhibition about the life and career of Willy Brandt, which was also quite interesting.

The obligatory pose...These bears are everywhere, presumably because Berlin's coat of arms (behind me) shows one.

Marlene Dietrich was M.'s favourite moviestar, so in his view no visit to Berlin would be complete without a pilgrimage to her grave, which we found in a very beautiful, well-kept little graveyard off the Südwestkorso. It's an Ehrengrab des Landesamts Berlin, but according to the sexton who showed us where to find it, that doesn't mean the city pays for its upkeep. On the contrary, it's the visitors that tend the grave and keep it covered in fresh flowers almost on a daily basis. Also, she said, it's mostly tourists and young people, not Berliners and certainly not the older generation, who still haven't forgiven her for her defection in the 30s.

In the same graveyard, and in the same row of graves, Helmut Newton's last resting place.

The Hufeisensiedlung in Neukölln, which has recently been declared a World Heritage Site, much to the disgust of the inhabitants, who fear that the rent will go up.

Another look at this architectural gem of the 1920s -- I'll always be an architectural historian at heart ;-)

The commemorative plaque to its architect, Bruno Taut.

I love the food halls in the Kaufhaus Galeria on Alexanderplatz. All that produce displayed to its best advantage...and these vegetables I'd never seen or tasted, called Schmorgurken (between the tomatoes and the artichokes). From their name, I would guess they're related to the cucumber, but I wonder how you serve them?

A stroll in Volkspark Friedrichshain takes you past the Märchenbrunnen, which has only recently been restored, after having been almost totally destroyed in the war.

I also met and spent an evening in the company of the lovely scatterheart, which helped make this visit a complete success.
Tags: photos, travel

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