Wednesday, May 13, 2009


So, back to the Europe trip today - and today, we'll discuss Berlin.


No, seriously, here are some of the interesting tidbits we collected in Berlin. We already covered the cool cars, but I promise there were a couple other interesting things.

Hard to believe when its starting to be stinkin' hot outside, at least in Dallas, but when we were there, almost two months ago now, the city was still shaking off winter. It was sort of cold, and sort of wet, and sort of overcast. But this didn't slow us down. Neither of us had ever been to Berlin, so we were excited to be going there. What a historic city it is for hundreds of years, but certainly even in our lifetime, it is a historically important city! I remember the wall coming down - I remember a girl in my high school class visiting there shortly after the wall fell and bringing back pieces of the wall that she put on her Christmas cards with a photo of her standing next to it. It was pretty cool stuff, to touch history like that.

S is standing where the wall used to be in this photo.
The only marker - those different colored street stones.

The city today barely shows signs of it's recent past. It will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the great Berlin Wall this autumn. 20 years! The old East German sector is a bustling center of activity these days, with few signs of it's gray days. In fact, since there was so much space to envelop in that part of the city, some of the newest, nicest stuff is in the old East German side. I actually read an article just yesterday about how the city wished they would have kept a little more of the wall in place for historical reasons. The article said, in typical German style, they cleaned it right up and out, very efficiently, but now, they have very little of it left to show visitors to the city, etc. We did stand on a piece of it near a fancy hotel, and I have a photo on the camera phone, but I haven't had a chance to download those yet...and this post is getting close to posting late anyway!

Ampelmenn in action, and S by a commercial version of the guy.

We stayed in a hotel in old East Berlin. And my business was all in old East Berlin. Not that could tell, except for the Ampelmann. The traffic light symbols are different in old East Berlin - they were left as they were, so when you cross a street that used to be in this area, you can tell because of the traffic lights.

S and I had little time to explore Berlin over the area I went to for business, but we were centrally located, so the few hours we had we put to good use - we saw the Brandenburg Gate, the outside of the Reichstag, Unter den Linden, the Gendarmenmarkt, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (but not the Jewish Museum), some of Friedrichstrasse (but we didn't make it down to Checkpoint Charlie) and the Friedrichstrasse train station.

I've decided to post many of today's photos in black and white. It was sort of gray while we were there, but some of the images of Berlin just lend themselves to this treatment, I feel. So, here we go with the rest of the photos.

These are photos of the Konzerthaus exterior, in Gendarmenmarkt.

I liked this ad, center - "Hear the art."

Also on that plaza, on either side of the Konzerthaus, two Doms - a German and French one.
I have no recollection which one this is.

The Brandenburg Gate, on the old East side.

On either side of the gate - the American Embassy on one side and Starbucks on the other.

Some gate detail. It is a striking structure.

On the other side of the gate, in a large park - some flowering bushes caught my eye.

A tricked out copy of a flowering bush photo.
Ran with the "Orton-ish" filter.

The Reichstag from the side and front.

And from the back.

Dallas people - notice that upper right shot - the Reichstag "re-do" was done by Norman Foster. The new Winspear Opera House was also designed by Norman Foster, or at least his firm. See any similarities? I thought the similarities were notable.

Last, but certainly not least, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was one of the most effective memorials I've ever experienced. The architecture works. There are all these square stones - coffins? headstones? imposing figures of oppression? And, you walk through them. They are all different sizes. And the ground is not even as you walk - you walk deeper into silence, or solitude, or oppression and loneliness. You get the feelings of nowhere to go, oppressive hands, aloneness, sadness, unnerving unknowing as you walk through. It works. It really works.

One of the long walkways from the middle, and S standing in another one.

As you can see from the first photos, the place was crawling with people, yet, when you get inside of the memorial, with people all around, it is possible to not see a soul. Creepy yet reverent place, this memorial. It was an experience. And, it's hard to put into words.

So, there you go. A whirlwind look at our whirlwind time in Berlin. And the post is going up today later than normal - computer issues, dag nabbit. And now I'm late for the rest of the morning, too, so I gotta go!

See you tomorrow.


  1. Is that Ampelmann getting fresh with S?

  2. Great photos. I remember going into the Starbucks by Brandenburg Gate with the DSO on tour and finding many of our musicians there.


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