Monday, 11 November 2013

BERLIN CHRONICLES (Part I)



"And you will be pleased to know that the weather in Berlin is much better than in London", the pilot announced in English, 20 minutes prior to landing. He was as wrong as BBC weather forecast most of the time is and could have warranted a complaint from me for misleading information, but of course I'm just exaggerating.

Berlin weather was just as dire, which leaves me unsurprised why most Brits wouldn't pick a Germanic break, but the difference not only lies in Germany having much better beer and more exciting local cuisine, but in the latter's capital having more open and uncrowded spaces, a more relaxed pace, and a 20th century place in history that I've always been very curious about but only ever got acquainted with via documentaries. 

While I don't hang on to personal baggage, I tend to cling onto historical places, events, and figures, which may not necessarily have anything directly to do with me, but have shaped my understanding of the world around me. From a 12-year-old who has read Anne Frank's diary, to the young woman who spent marathon viewings of History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, and more recently, Yesterday on Freeview, I finally decided to visit one of the German cities whose war reverberated and rippled in my own Southeast Asian corner of the world. Come and take a quick tour with me.

First stop: the 360m Berlin TV Tower with a panoramic floor and a bar and restaurant.


Berliner Fernsehturm opened on 3 October 1969, which incidentally was my father's 24th birthday.



The first level is where the panoramic floor and bar are. The second or top floor is where the restaurant Sphere is, and that's where Mr Tattler and I were headed to.


Right where the lift opens at the panoramic floor, is this gold plaque where the height of the level we were in was engraved.



Inside the Sphere restaurant. Every hour or half an hour, the restaurant slowly rotates on its axis, giving diners a 360-degree view of Berlin. A great way to kickstart the city tour! Very Germanic to efficiently time the dining experience, guests were ready for dessert by the time Sphere has completed a turn.






I did tell you how dire the weather was. Taken at the rooftop restaurant at the Reichstag building. We'll visit that later on.






One of the Soviet War Memorials in Berlin erected by the Soviet Union in 1945 in memory of the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died in the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945 . This one was in Tiergarten, along the stretch of road that leads to the Brandenburg Gate.


Straße des 17. Juni (17 June Street) across the memorial that leads to the East-West divide.



Mr Tattler poses in front of a tank model used by the Soviets during the war, on display outside the Soviet War Memorial.



The Brandenburg Gate as seen from the former East Berlin side. Built in 1791 during the reign of the King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm II, Napoleon was the first to use the gate for a triumphant procession.



The Berlin quadriga atop the Brandenburg Gate. Quadrigas symbolise triumph, and this one in Berlin, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow, was originally called the 'Quadriga of Victory'. Napoleon seized and took it to Paris during his occupation of Berlin in 1806. It was returned to Berlin by Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher in 1814.



A bronze commemorative plaque along the west end of Straße des 17. Juni (17 June Street), honouring where US President Ronald Reagan stood on 17 June 1987 to challenge Soviet Union Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev to open the Brandenburg Gate and tear down the Berlin Wall. On 9 November 1989, East Germans walked through openings on the Wall and it effectively came down. 



Parts of the Wall emblazoned with graffiti on display outside the Potsdamer Platz underground station.


During a tour at the Reichstag, we met a British couple who advised us to take the train to Ostbahnhof (Mühlenstraße), east of Berlin, to see the remains of the Berlin Wall which have been left standing. We made a mad dash and finally saw the wall that David Hasselholf had been jokingly credited for the fall.


A panoramic view of the 1.3-km long section of the Berlin Wall left standing. The East Side Gallery is an international memorial for freedom featuring works of 105 artists from all over the world.


The Wall from another angle. The top was lined with smooth pipe to make it more difficult to climb and scale. It is against the law to deface the Wall.


These are a few of the some I managed to take photos of before my feet gave up on me.


















The famous 'Some Heads' by Thierry Noir








A first-time trip to Berlin will not be complete without dropping by Checkpoint Charlie, despite it being quite comical now, with seemingly out-of-work actors dressed in military gear, shouting at passers-by. 

Sans the signage to the left, how would you know that you're now entering the American sector of the wall? 


Checkpoint Charlie or 'Checkpoint C' was the name given by the Western Allies to the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin. Charlie came from the letter C in the NATO phonetic alphabet. The less known checkpoints were Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstedt and Checkpoint Bravo at Wannsee.






My own passport stamped and ready to enter both East and West Berlin.

Up in Potsdamer Platz station where other sections of the Wall were displayed, a German student in the exhibition worked as a passport stamper. Tourists have the option to have the stamp on a replica of a piece of pass during the Cold War or on your real passport. I opted to have mine on my passport. That's €3 and a very touristy thing to do that our tour guide the following day advised us against, which I obviously didn't admit to doing.



A view of the Reichstag from Brandenburger Tor station exit

Above is a glimpse of Germany's Reichstag building that houses the Bundestag or the federal and constitutional body of Germany.


Next time, we'll have a look inside the Reichstag, find out about The Story of Berlin, and explore the culinary and sartorial offerings of the city. Stay with me!


Have a good week everyone!

















22 comments:

  1. I want to go to Berlin to so his was a nice preview - funny enough MaiTai also went to Berlin this year so there must be something in the water. I think I will succumb to that passport stamp as well which is something I normally consider myself too chic to do!! PS love a revolving restaurant haven't been to one in years so going there will break the drought for sure :)

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    1. Berlin's always been in my mind. I wish had more time to spend there. Beautiful place. I did see MaiTai's visit and that inspired me to go sooner rather than later. She did the more fashionable bit though. I'm more into the 'war' side of Berlin. My friend who's been to Berlin so many times recommended the restaurant. It was fun :)

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  2. I've never been to Berlin, I would visit it! Interesting pics!!!!!
    Kisses darling!!!

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  3. I lived just outside Berlin for a few months many years ago and I thought it was a wonderful city to visit. I loved the revolving restaurant and Checkpoint Charlie. Now, I want to go back!

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    1. Oh wow, I wanna live in Berlin, and you've done it (doesn't matter if it's not in Berlin itself)! Go soon and dip your paws into some nice cocktails at the TV tower :)

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  4. Thanks for this lovely tour! Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and every so often we contemplate a move there. J, my partner is a German speaker, and it would be much closer to our families if we lived there. I'm terrified of the weather, though. our Berlin friends are forever running away to escape winter!
    The Fernsehturm is one of my most favourite buildings - I've never had a meal in the restaurant, but one day I will!

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    1. Oh, and if you're interested, here's a homage to the Fernsehturm by a friend of mine:
      http://radialflow.de/stixpix/fernsehturm/

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    2. Glad you enjoyed the tour Ruth. It's just the first part so hope you watch out for the rest. I would love to move to Berlin. My partner was apparently German in his past life, so he's so at home there. A fortune teller said he would live in Germany, but she didn't say whether it's in Berlin and if I'm with him. Hahaha. It can get really cold and that's the only thing that will stop us, well more me :)

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    3. And thanks for sharing your friend's ode to the Fernsehturm. I love it! It's amazing to see it in so many different angles, seasons. and time of day. You should go one day soon. Berlin is getting refurbished a lot and even that area opposite Alexanderplatz where the TV tower is has gone lots of construction. Thanks again for sharing that :)

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  5. You little city-hopper you! I've never been to Berlin, so it's always nice to admire, vicariously via blogs, the places I've never been before, or thought to go. I love the idea behind the artwork on the wall, it's a shame other vandals have added their 'artwork'. oooh the revolving restaurant, the last time I was in something similar was in Vegas, I think they call the hotel the Stratosphere - bad memories though because I got food poisoning. Yeaaah, there's the beret and the red lip - I do wish your beautiful self wasn't a rare appearance, but no pressure hee hee. Enjoooooy xx

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    1. You know what? Very few people I know have been to Berlin. I'm obsessed with that part of 20th century history, thus the trip. Wanted to see those places where it happened plus the Berlin Wall which I only heard about when I was a young girl. Oh, Stratosphere's so close to the Berlin one called Sphere. Of course the names will have something to do with heights and space. I did tell you about the beret and red lipstick combo. Hee hee. It's my favourite look at the moment. Hmmm...every now and then my little self will be around. Have a good week xxx

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  6. Great tour and despite the weather (let's face it, living in the UK isn't much different) you've managed to snap some great places and do a lot. The restaurant is brilliant, having a meal with a view over Berlin must be fantastic. Have a great time xo

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    1. Thanks Carole! Never easy to capture good shots and sceneries when the weather's drab, but had to be done. Yes the meal was perfect--even the porcelain where it was served. Will post that soon x

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  7. I've only been to Berlin once but would love to explore more. It has the most amazing history and I very moved when I visited Checkpoint Charlie.

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    1. Agree with you on the amazing history, and there are lots of construction going on Berlin I can imagine how much more cosmopolitan it would be in the future.

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  8. The weather really does look grim but you still managed to pack a great deal into your visit. Recently Berlin seems to have been featured in a number of magazines and it has been on my list of potential weekend breaks for some time. The revolving restaurant appeals to me too as I have always enjoyed roof top venues with a view. Fascinating graffiti!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. It's not yet over miss b! There's so much more! I think you'll enjoy Berlin and they also have lots of brands that I've never seen here in the UK!

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  9. Sigh... Berlin... this place is actually on my bucket list (been wanting to see the Berlin Wall and Bradenburg Gate up close). I hope that I get to visit this lovely and historic place sometime soon. :)

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    1. I really wish that you visit Berlin one day soon. I love though that you've traveled all over the Philippines. It's one of my dreams. Thank you visiting my page Mai! :)

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  10. Wonderful photos Marj! I love Berlin, although Munich is one of my favourite cities in Germany because my father's fam was from there, Berlin has a lot to offer. It's also nice to see you in your post, lovely. Wishing you a wonderful weekend dear. xx/ :-)

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    1. Thanks Madison! I so love Berlin and I must say it's currently my favourite city in Europe. Munich's next on the list. There's so much more to explore in Berlin so I'm going back. Aww, how sweet of you. I'll make an appearance every now and then :) Have a wonderful weekend too! x

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