Category Archives: Germany

Berlin Days Eight and Nine – Busyness

The last 48 hours have flown by a lot faster than I thought they would! Yesterday, my supposed “off day” because of the rain ended up quite a bit useful. The thunderstorm slated for the day moved through over night, so the day ended up pretty nice. After sleeping in late (15 minutes from the close of breakfast) I got up and did a little work on photos before heading out for an early lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe just down the street. I was the first customer of the day, as they let me come in about 15 minutes before they officially started lunch.

After that I was tired again for some reason, so I got another hour nap in before talking to Karen and my parents on Skype. After that I dabbled with my photos again for a little bit in Photoshop but then decided it was too nice to stay in any longer so I thought I would go to the Pergamonmuseum. As luck would have it, a minute after I got on the bus it started to rain pretty heavily. Just for fun I took the bus to the end of the line to see what that side of Berlin was like. It goes along the south and is more of a blue-collar, lower middle class area. There were a few signs of Turkish populations (via their businesses) on the streets the bus went around.

From the end of the line I had to figure out how to get back to the middle of town to Museum Island, so I caught a subway that went to Alexanderplatz. When I left the subway it was sunny and nice again, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures with the sun while I had the chance. Then I made it down to Am Kupfergraben and crossed the Spree to the Pergamonmuseum where I paid 12 Euros to enter. It was worth it, as they currently have a special exhibit combining their collection on ancient Babylon with collections from the Louvre and the British Museum (the Royal British Museum? I’m not sure which British museum…) The entire collection was stunning, and I was there for over two hours. When I left it was almost completely dark, so I just found my way back to the hotel in what had become a very active night scene in a drizzly Berlin.

Today Dr. Rogers and I met up at his hotel near Gesundbrunnen, a shopping mall and major train crossing station. After walking around in Prenzlauer Berg and some of the northern districts, we paid about 7 Euros for a tour of Berlin’s underground – one of three or four tours by a nonprofit company trying to preserve Berlin’s underground historical bunkers, some of which pre-date World War II. We toured both a pre-war bunker and a 1970s Cold War era bunker which is built into and around the Parkstrasse U-Bahnhof. It was well worth the nearly two hours of hunching over in mostly dark, underground bunkers.

After that we thought we would try our hand at traveling south but when we arrived at the Hermannstrasse U-bahnhof we surmised that the area was similar to that of Prenzlauer Berg. We were getting hungry by that point (around 5 p.m.) so we headed back to Alexanderplatz where we planned to go to the TV tower to see the city from above (hopefully on a clear evening). We ate Italian at a nicer outdoor restaurant and sat around talking about Berlin but even then it wasn’t close enough to sun down to go up to the tower. After sitting around people-watching for a while we figured we had time to watch a movie, so we went to see Get Smart (with German voice-overs) at a nearby Kino. When that ended we went up to the tower, an expensive 9.5 Euros which wasn’t even really worth it because the view from the tower had a bad reflection of light on the Plexiglass and wasn’t good for taking photos.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy again, so we’ll probably spend a lot of it indoors, starting with the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.

See you all later, and sorry I haven’t gotten pictures up yet. I just haven’t had the time and now it’s getting to be a bit overwhelming!

Berlin Day Seven – Progress

Today Dr. Rogers and I met up at Potsdammer Platz at 9 a.m. to explore western Berlin. I showed him around Potsdammer Platz in a prevailing mist-rain, which we tried to sit out in Sony Center after walking around some. Finally we just left to go to the Ku’damm area, but fortunately the drizzle let up not long after we got there.

I continued to show him around the sites that I’ve already been to, and we went into both the old and new sections of the Gedächtniskirche to see what it was/is like inside. It is one of the few places that I’ve been to that feels really touristy. By that point it was nearing lunch, so Dr. Rogers and I sat down for a drink (and I had a currywurst) at a wurst stand outside the Zoologisher Garten Bahnhof area.

Dr. Rogers asked me if I thought I was getting what I needed out of the trip, and I told him I thought so, but he wasn’t so sold on all of it. Based on his other trips and studies in Europe (and because of my lack of experience in other European cities) he explained that his first impression of Berlin is that it isn’t all that international like a New York, L.A., or Chicago. Sure, it has a large amount of international retail stores and restaurants, a little bit of global culture and some international tourists (not nearly as many as expected this year) but so does nearly every major capital city, including D.C., London, and Paris. He also pointed out that these same capital cities (and other major European cities) also have international business headquarters and plenty of cultural arts just like Berlin.

This is all makes sense, and wasn’t even something I recognized without knowing what other capital cities are like. I did suggest that perhaps tourism is down this summer because of economic reasons, and it is possible that Berlin has become less exciting of a tourist destination than say the exciting early reunification days of the 1990s. It may be, for example, that British tourists who once considered Berlin an exotic tourist destination of the emerging eastern Europe now consider it less edgy and head to Romania (Bucharest was Dr. Rogers’s example) or the Czech Republic instead. That doesn’t make Berlin a has-been, just more in line with the norm. And, even if the down-tourism-year scenario is correct, it still doesn’t make Berlin very different from other major places; again, just closer to normal than it used to be.

My work isn’t all for naught, of course, with this new information. My field work is just revealing that my hypothesis was a bit off but still salvageable. My paper can still show the importance of Berlin in the E.U. and particularly to Germans (as most of the tourists we’ve seen have either been high school age or old retired Germans.) It can also show how successfully they’ve reunited in a short time. Plenty (practically all) of the elements of my research are still useful to my work. This is precisely why I had to do fieldwork here, to gain a real feel for Berlin without the bias of book and article writers.

After our sit we headed out to explore Charlottenburg, which is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Berlin. We both agreed that we would want to live here if we had to choose what district of Berlin in which to live. We walked around the Schloss Charlottenburg – practically empty today as compared to overflowing with tourists last year – and saw the gardens and took some pictures and then decided to take a U-bahn trip to Spandau. Spandau is far west Berlin, though it was originally a city unto itself and is older than Berlin. It still retains its own feel and doesn’t really fit into the rest of Berlin, as it is more traditionally German. It was a nice visit and we had a nice supper at a restaurant next to their large church, but it wasn’t really of much importance to my paper.

Now I am quite tired and have even more photos (100+) to go through. It is supposed to be very rainy (thunderstorm) conditions tomorrow, so I’m going to stay in and sleep and work through photos instead of getting out and about.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Berlin Day Six – Long Day

It’s just about 10 p.m. here in Berlin, and I’m wiped out! Walking around Berlin with Dr. Rogers has been an all day affair, and much like two days ago, I have over a hundred photos and not enough time to work on them tonight. It may be just as well, because it’s looking like rain this weekend which means I might spend the better part of at least one day inside and just work on photos as the rain comes a-tumblin’ down.

Our day started off by meeting at the Brandenburg Gate at 9 which meant a wake up call from Karen around 7. I didn’t really want to get up; I was quite tired, but getting to breakfast earlier was nice since I beat the young tourist crowd. (They’re still here; still loud. Maybe they’ll leave this weekend?)

Anyway, we started walking down Unter den Linden toward the east, noting construction on many of the side streets as well as photographing the Russian Embassy. We turned right on Friedrichstrasse and headed south for a few blocks to look at the more built-up areas of downtown. Quite accidentally, we found ourselves at the Gendarmenmarkt, which features the Franzosicher Dom, Deutscher Dom, and the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Konzerthaus Berlin.

Inside the Deutscher Dom is a permanent, free exhibit on the development of democracy in Germany, and my National Geographic Travel Guide lured me in because it said the fifth floor was about Germany in the EU (a big part of my paper). Well the first four floors were really quite interesting, as Dr. Rogers and I struggled to read enough German between the two of us to make sense of the exhibit. There was an English audio guide, but it didn’t cover every aspect of the museum, so we tried our collective hardest to read the rest. The fifth floor was a bit disappointing, though; it is so high up in the Dom’s dome that there isn’t room for more than a few signs explaining the beginnings of the EU. (The Dom’s dome means the cathedral’s dome…that’s a German-English play on words, since the German Dom means cathedral and sounds like the English Dome… Does it make a bad punster if I have to explain my jokes?)

Anyway, the exhibit took us around two hours to complete, so when we left we tried to decide where to eat lunch, only to decide that we weren’t that hungry and could make it by just getting a drink from a tourist shop on Unter den Linden. From there we rested our feet for a while in the middle of the street: Unter den Linden has a wide median between the traffic lanes that has benches, wurst and drink stands, and, naturally, linden trees.

We then continued our tour by heading deeper into the former East Berlin. We made it to Museum Island around 2 p.m. about which time it started to sprinkle and our decent weather from the morning (complete with sunshine!) had disappeared. We threw around the idea of going to a museum since I thought they were free after 2 on Thursdays (it turns out they are free after 6) but the lines were pretty long and we didn’t really want to waste too much time at that point. Instead, after photographing several of the museums’ outside, we continued on to the Marx-Engels Platz, the Rotes Rathaus, and then Alexanderplatz.

As you will see in photos later, Alexanderplatz (called Alex by the natives) is the center of shopping and commercial business in east Berlin. It was originally developed by the Communist regime of the DDR as the showpiece quarter of the most successful country behind the Iron Curtain. It has been heavily modified and turned into a capitalist center, though many of the former pre-fab housing/apartment complexes around the quarter still show evidence of their cheap Communist-era construction. A few have been nicely redone with new facades, but many are in bad shape and are doomed (At least one ten story apartment building was completely shut down and vacant.)

After we walked around the old “Red” Berlin we decided to go on a subway adventure (much like my trip to Wedding the other day). We got on the U5 at Alexanderplatz and rode it east out into Berlin’s suburbs. The suburb we visited around Wuhletal was pretty nice, more like the traditional German cities that I’ve seen and stayed in during my travels. There we found an old hospital complex for traumatic injuries that was built in 1890 at what was then completely out of town. Germans traditionally associate good health with nature, and the planning of the Krankenhaus (we assumed based on our observations) was that it was built to expose those who experienced trauma to nature to help with the healing process. There were also buildings for psychological study on children and teenagers, and there were several college aged people about, which led us to think that the campus might have been both hospital and medical school. I need to Google it and find out. I’ll report back more later after I’ve had time to search (but for now I’m tired!)

We rode the S-bahn back into town and found a small, interesting Turkish restaurant in the Turkish part of Kreuzberg for supper. Neither of us know much about Turkish food, and since they didn’t have the Dönner kababs famous to Germany, we went with Hackfleisch kababs which were really good. I intentionally planned our stop in that area because the U-bahn station went both north-south on a line toward Dr. Roger’s hotel and east-west (the closed U1 line) toward mine. I took a bus back as far as it would go, switched to the U2 line which follows the U1 line for part of its track, and then switched back to bus to get back to my hotel before walking the last two blocks. It sounds completely complicated, no doubt, to the American readers, but it’s all proof to show that you don’t even have to own a car to get around in Europe. Those of you who been here before know exactly how amazing Germany’s public transportation is.

It’s after 11 now, and I’m going to get in bed. Dr. Rogers and I are meeting again at 9 in the morning, this time at Potsdammerplatz, to explore the west.

I’ll post more tomorrow, and maybe get around to photos by tomorrow evening or Sunday.

Bis Später!

Berlin Day Five – Lazy Evening

Well as luck would have it when I walked out of the hotel after my nap for lunch, it was raining. Not a great soaking rain, but more of a Seattle rain-drizzle-mist. I kinda like those, so it ended up being okay that I left my rain jacket up in my room.

I walked down the block and around the corner to try a different restaurant on Pariserstrasse (where I ate Saturday evening). I sat down outside at a restaurant called Solo and waited for the waitress to bring a menu. (Note: almost all of the outdoor cafes and restaurants have large awnings covering their outdoor seating.)

I ordered a grilled chicken salad that came with lots of vegetables so I could hopefully fight off my low-blood sugar/lack of nutrition thing. I felt better before I had even finished. The rain had picked up to slightly more than a drizzle so I hastily walked back to the hotel and began to work on uploading photos (which are now online, by the way.)

The rain has continued most of the afternoon, so I just stayed here and talked to Karen and worked on my photos. Per Dr. Rogers’s advice, I planned extra days for weather into my schedule, so it’s easy enough to just shift what few plans I had for today over to Saturday and declare today a trip-holiday.

Not much else is going on, aside from the group of elephants still occupying the building. Seriously, is it really necessary to stomp around the hotel and talk obnoxiously loud? A few minutes ago a group of them tried my door handle wondering if it was a bathroom; no geniuses, those are around the corner…and are clearly labeled. At least the doors have effective locks.

That’s probably all for today, folks, so expect to hear from me tomorrow!

Berlin Day Five – Lazy Morning

This morning I woke up a little late, around 8:30 when my phone started vibrating. Apparently it takes Vodafone a couple days to set up your text messaging and voicemail service, so I got not only a buzz for a text message but also then a computerized call about the voice mail. Needless to say, I’m still tired.

I don’t have any plans today for one, because I’m tired and for two, because it is super cloudy and supposed to rain today. I need to finish up with photos anyway and I just woke up from a nap. I was feeling weird (light- and kinda fuzzy- headed) after I got back from breakfast and I showered, so I just went ahead and went back to bed.

Now I’m going to go eat a real lunch somewhere. I suspect part of my feeling weird might be because of my strange eating habits the last few days (lack of blood sugar and protein perhaps?), plus I’m hungry around the lunch hour (ok, well it’s 2 p.m.) anyway.

See you guys later. When I get back, I’ll probably talk to Karen, check e-mail and starting naming/describing my photos from yesterday.

Berlin Day Four – Adventure

“Well now what do I do?”

After covering most of the places I had planned for both today and tomorrow, I sat down at a cafe this morning to think about what else to do  while I still had some sunshine.

I woke up early with Karen calling me on Skype at 7:30 (12:30 a.m. Central) so we could talk before she went to bed and so I would actually get up that early to use the sun ( told me it would be sunny) while I had the opportunity. So after a quick breakfast (filled with the young German hordes I talked about yesterday) I left for my adventure.

I first took the bus up Ku’damm to the Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof. Here I picked up an S-bahn train to the Hauptbahnhof – Berlin’s main train station. As I did with my host family and a group from UTM two years ago, I knew that starting at the Hauptbahnhof would provide me the opportunity to walk by the Bundeskanzleramt (Office of the Federal Chancellery) and the Bundestag before heading to Pariser Platz and the Brandenburg Gate. Again.

I took photos of those two political buildings and then continued on to search for more political buildings between the Gate and Potsdammer Platz. There are quite a lot of political buildings along Wilhelmstrasse and what is known as the Altes Regierungsviertel (old regulations (?) quarter). This area was the center of political activity during the days of of the Prussian empire through both World Wars until it became part of the DDR and the Soviets moved their political buildings to the middle of East Berlin. Since reunification, several political buildings have moved back to the Wilhelmstrasse area, including several offices of the German Bundeslände (Federal States), the upper chamber of Germany’s parliament in the Bundesrat, the Federal Finance Ministry, the Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection, the Minstry for Employment and Social Affairs, and the British Embassy. Needless to say there were lots of photos to be taken.

As I meandered about on Wilhelmstrasse, I also walked around parts of Potsdammer Platz and Leipziger Platz to take photos of several important business/economy buildings. I will elaborate more about these on Flickr. I had intended to cover this area tomorrow, but it seemed to work out fine today.

After leaving Potsdammer Platz/Leipziger Platz, I walked back to Wilhemstrasse and didn’t know quite what to do. I knew that I had a few more hours of sun, so I sat down at a cafe and pulled out the maps and National Geographic Guidebook and decided to keep walking down Wilhelmstrasse. Without intending to, I came to a stretch of the Berlin Wall that has been left intact and what is known as the Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror), an outdoor exhibit at the ruins of the Gestapo headquarters that covers the history of the Gestapo/SS/SD acts of Terror in WWII. I didn’t really want to see the exhibit, as it isn’t all that useful for my paper, but behind it there was a temporary exhibit on the significance of Wilhelmstrasse through the last two centuries, so I walked and read through that exhibit instead. The exhibit ended at the back of the Bundesrat next to Martin-Gropius-Bau (an art exhibition hall) that wasn’t all that interesting to me, so after a few photos I headed back to Potsdammer Platz to do more photo work.

I photographed most of the large buildings around Potsdammer Platz – the Deutsche Bahn tower, the Mercedes-Benz tower, the Price Waterhouse Cooper building, Sony Center, and the mall at the Mercedes-Benz quarter – Arkaden. By this point my feet were getting tired, so I decided to check out the mall. They have a lot of high fashion clothing stores and other mall type stores (similar to on Ku’damm) so the only places I checked out were a book store and a Gelato-Eis (ice cream) cafe. I ordered a Tartufo based on its picture on the menu. It had chocolate and coffee flavored gelato, whipped cream, and a chocolate wafer. After the first few bites I noticed a bit of an odd flavor (it had a whang to it, as my mother would say) and I looked at my receipt to see that it was a “Tartufo Eierlikor” – Tartufo Irish Liquor. Oops. I don’t know if it was Irish Liquor flavoring…but I’m going to bet not. Live and learn, oh well.

I was about to leave Potsdammer Platz by the same route I took yesterday when I saw signs for the observation deck of the Mercedes-Benz tower. I had planned to go to that before I left but I didn’t know where it was until I saw it as I left the mall. For a student price of 2.5 Euros I took the fastest elevator in Europe to the top (Mom and Rachel will be so proud me. And terrified.) It takes you up 24 floors (90.15 meters) in 20 seconds, about 8.5 meters per second. That’s not all that fast, when you think about it: 8.5 meters per second equals 30.6 km/hour. It’s just straight up in the air instead of in a car along the road.

Anyway, enough of the scientific conversions lecture. (If this were Monty Python, someone would be yelling “Get on with it!”) The view from the top was the best I’ve had of Berlin yet. I’ve been to the top of the Bundestag twice and the Siegelsäule statue once and they’ve got nothing on this. Of course…I haven’t been to the Fernsehturm yet, either. It’s the highest point in Berlin, so more exciting “aerial” photos may be coming to a Flickr near you soon.

Once I was back firmly on the ground I headed back to the hotel where I talked to a waking Karebear and Anita. After a two hour nap, I woke up and went to the grocery store. When I got back I ate some of my bread with Nutella for supper (I wasn’t hungry, again…odd) and then talked to Karen, Anita, Granny, Pop, and Mr. Carroll (sp?) before starting to blog.

Now that I’m almost done, I’m realizing that I probably won’t have time to get my photos up on Flickr before my internet runs out at 10:15 p.m. I’ve planned it so that I don’t have to pay for it at all today – my purchase last night runs until 10:15 tonight and then I’ll buy again in the morning, so that will be one last day (nighttime tonight + daytime of my last day here when I fly out) that I don’t have to pay for internet. Someone remind me to kiss my wireless router with free UTM internet when I get back to Martin…

Anyway, I leave you with a few observations and things I’ve been thinking about in my walks around town.


1) One thing that Americans may never get used to in any moderate to large size German city is the smells. And most of them are offensive smells. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good smelling things to be found around here, but for every fresh bakery or cafe there are at least two or three smelly manholes emitting sewage smells. Add to the mix plenty of Germans who fit the lack of hygiene stereotype, crowded buses and subway cars, and men and women wearing enough perfume and cologne to cover up their own scent and you’ll have a gagging mess on your hands.

2) Fortunately, Berlin is unlike most large cities in the world that are completely jam-packed with high rise buildings, industrial sites and disgusting air. Unlike London, L.A., Beijing, and more, Berlin has so much green space that cleans the air – so there are places to escape from the smells mentioned above.

3) There are thousands of German words that I don’t know. Even if I pick up on dozens of words every time I come here, at one trip per year (thus far) I’ll master the German language about the time I die. Something should be done to fix this.

Berlin Day Three – Afternoon

Today has certainly been an interesting day. After my blogging this morning, checking e-mail and talking to Karen and Anita on Skype, it was after 2 p.m. and I was tired so I laid down on the bed to read some of the travel brochures I picked up at the hotel desk and then decided a nap was in order (as I had nothing else planned and it was still overcast.)

I awoke around 3 to the sound of a herd of young Germans thundering through the hotel as a high-school-aged tour group got here. Their presence might make breakfast in the morning interesting… The breakfast area isn’t small, but it’s not large enough for a full hotel’s worth of guests either. I wonder how long they are staying…

Anyway, I still had no plans as the afternoon wasted away, so I thought I would try taking a risk. I pulled up a Berlin map, closed my eyes and pointed my finger — to the Wedding district of Mitte. I had made no previous plans in my itinerary to go to Wedding, and none of the tour guide books mention it, so my curiosity was sparked. I googled it and found via Wikipedia that Wedding is a working-class district with very few attractions.

So naturally, I went.

After quickly checking and being informed that it was still calling for overcast skies for several hours (but no rain) I left the hotel. lied a little as it was actually sprinkling, but it stopped by the time I arrived in Wedding via the bus and U-bahn system.

When I got there, I immediately understood why Wedding is not mentioned in the guide books. The Wedding district formally belonged to the French after WWII , and as it borders Pankow to the east, it was one of the first sites for construction of the Wall. Modern day Wedding is quite shabby, filled with poorer Berliners and plenty of non-Germans. I walked down Müllerstrasse which turns into Chausseenstrasse which turns into Friedrichstrasse, following the route that the U6 subway line takes underground. The walk revealed the dirtier side of Berlin, one that has seen neither corporate/government reconstruction or much gentrification. The area bleeds into Mitte in the south, and though it is definitely a melting pot area, it won’t likely be a large highlight of my research paper.

After I had walked all the way to Friedrichstrasse, I saw the large Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof which doubles as both a Berlin subway and a Deutsche Bahn hub. There I picked up a pizza-brot for supper and took the S1 (or was it S2?) line to Unter den Linden to relax a little before coming back to the hotel. I later realized when I saw a sign on another tram that I wasn’t supposed to eat my pizza while riding…oops.

After looking around the Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburger Tor and ascertaining that something important was going on at the French Embassy (lots and lots and lots of black/grey Mercedes and their black suit-wearing drivers were parked around the Pariser Platz) I took a few photos and sat down for a Sprite and Apple Strudel at a bäkerei. After writing down my thoughts on the evening, I headed back to the hotel around 8.

Berlin Day Three – Morning

This morning I got up late (around 9) because I was tired after staying up to blog/post pictures to Flickr/talk to Karen on Skype. I got ready and ate breakfast — they had Brötchen today! but still no Nutella. Then I went to the nearest Deutsche Post retail store to buy a stamp for my postcard and send it to Dennis’s Oma and Opa. It’s only a year late; think they will mind?

Then I went phone hunting. There are no less than three T-mobile stores on the Ku’damm, but the first one I stopped at didn’t have any cheap prepaid phones (all were over 50 Euros), so I kept walking east on Ku’damm (like I did yesterday) and decided I should go to Saturn (the electronics store). I’m really glad I went, because the place is (as I suspected) HUGE! I would have so much fun in Saturn if I lived here permanently.

I quickly found the Handy section and began to look at the prepaid phones (German’s call cell phones handys). There were a lot of options and prices so I went with the cheapest – 15 Euros. If I understood the sign correctly, the Vodafone SIM card that comes with the phone is good for 465 hours of connectivity to the Vodafone cell towers and 10 hours of talk time – plenty for me to talk to Dr. Rogers when he gets here later this week.

I don’t know if I could even receive international calls or how many minutes it would cost me, but if you want to give it a shot I’ll e-mail you my number (don’t want to post it for the world to see or anything.)

After I bought the phone, I went to a Plus (grocery store) and bought a few snacks to keep around my hotel room for when I get hungry between meals.

I’m not sure what my afternoon plans are yet. It’s already 1:30 and though there were partly cloudy/mostly sunny skies this morning, the past hour or two have been overcast.

Berlin Day Two – Events and Observations

Ah, my first full day in Berlin. I felt quite good this morning after a long, hard sleep last night and good breakfast this morning at the hotel. All day has been completely overcast, so with my camera, backpack and rain jacket in tow, I headed out from the hotel around 10 a.m.

At first I walked west toward the U-Bahnhof (subway station) Adenauerplatz to see how long it would take to walk there. As I suspected yesterday and confirmed on the BVG (Berlin Transportation Group) Web site this morning, the U1 line which follows Ku’damm is closed for construction until October. Fortunately, BVG has set a bus route that follows the U1 line, and I noticed today on their electronic signs that a bus going to Tegel Airport stops along the Ku’damm. Now if only I had known that yesterday… This will make it much easier to get back to the airport next Friday.

After making it to Adenauerplatz in about 8 minutes, I started walking east back along Ku’damm, taking pictures of the myriad shops (mostly high fashion) or things with international flavor. As I point out numerous times on today’s Flickr set, there are plenty of them.

I walked to the Gedächtniskirche and then took several more photos of the church and the office buildings around it. I’m a bit worried about the way my photos are turning out with this cloud cover — the sky is just a gray or white blah. said it was supposed to shower today and tomorrow, so I’m not sure what I will do at the moment, aside from play things by ear.

I bought a postcard for Dennis’s grandparents just down the street from the Gedächtniskirche, then I walked to a small park at Wittenburgplatz. It was very quaint, similar to what one might find in a German village. That was around noon, and I wasn’t even hungry yet, so I decided to try to make today a two-meal day. With the large, late breakfast and normal supper, it has worked out well so far, though I’m a bit hungry now. Tomorrow when all of the stores are open (most are closed on Sundays) I plan to go to a grocery store and buy a few things to keep at the hotel.

This afternoon I spent 8 Euros at the Story of Berlin exhibit, a multimedia walk-through presentation on Berlin’s history from medieval island to reunification. It was very well laid out and employed a number of great presentation methods. I spent nearly three hours there; other people kept moving on past me as I took the time to read nearly every sign in the place. It didn’t add a whole lot to my research, but it helped solidify some of the reading I’ve done on Berlin’s history.

After I finished at the exhibit, I headed back to the Hotel to relax and nap for a little while before wandering back out for supper. I found a nice cafe with decent prices in the opposite direction from where I ate last night, and had a hamburger with fries and a cappuccino to keep me going tonight!

Just a side note: I obviously didn’t go to the Deutsche Oper today to see Porgy and Bess. I’m debating on whether or not to go see it (it’s the only show they have all month.) It will probably come down to how much money I have later in the trip.

Finally, a few observations from today:

-German dogs are very cute and well behaved, though one did bark at me today.

-The weather really must clear up for me to get better photos. I played with some of the photos from this morning in Photoshop with varying degrees of success, but nothing can replace the gray clouds with blue sky.

-Taking a 30-minute nap in the afternoon helps a lot.

-I definitely understand Germans’ love for a good cafe. The atmosphere of a relaxing cafe, sitting with friends talking and eating, is perfect for the end of a busy day (and for the Germans is made even better by adding beer and/or coffee!)

-While I was sitting at the cafe, a convertible drove past blasting “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot” on their speakers. Completely awesome, and unheard of in America.

That’s it for today; I need to go to bed!

Bis Morgen!

Berlin Day One – Observations

I’ll leave you all with a few observations from today – Hopefully I’ll be inspired enough to do this everyday.

Today’s main observation is confirmation of my whole reason for being here: Berlin is quite the international city. Obviously, I believe this enough to base my senior Scholars project on it, but I’ve already gotten some examples that help back up that thesis and are encouraging for what is to come in the next two weeks.

After my last post an hour or two ago, I left the hotel to look for a place to eat. The hotel desk staff suggested I stay away from the Kurfürstendamm (one of West Berlin’s main streets, and just a few feet from my hotel) but rather to check out the Pariserstrasse which is a couple streets south of the hotel. They obviously knew what they were talking about, and within a few minutes I had walked by two sushi restaurants, an Italian pizza place, two or three typical “German” pubs and a Mexican (Hispanic) restaurant. The diversity, like I said, just points to the modern, international nature of Berlin that I will looking for and documenting all week.

(Side note: One thing you should understand about German restaurants – most are outdoor cafes that double as bars because they all have large selections of alcoholic options. Most Germans eat large breakfasts and make lunch the main course of the day, so in the evening they get together with friends at one of these outdoor cafes for drinks and appetizers until late. Also, I decided to eat at the Mexican place – Poco Loco – and had a burrito which might have been slightly more expensive that it was worth. But at least now I’m settled in, clean and full. Now I just need to go to bed.)

See you all in the morning.