I’m in Berlin for an investor’s conference — SuperVenture 2019. As usual I took a little extra time to stroll around the city, made that much easier and enjoyable by beautiful, sunny weather (in February!). It’s a remarkable city with an amazing history but of course one can only catch some glimpses…
Brandenburg gate… All manner of armies passed through here — Napoleon on his ambitious march eastward and his humiliating retreat, Prussian and German and Nazis and then modern day German armies… Off limits to everyone during the Cold War, today it’s a symbol of a reunited Germany as are some of the other Berlin landmarks
Not far away but in stark contrast to the majestic Gate, this small reflecting pool is the centerpiece of the “Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under national socialism”. The building immediately behind it is the Reichstag / Bundestag — the German Parliament, adding particular significance to the location of the small, meditative memorial.
Some of the stones surrounding the reflective pool are inscribed with the names which need no explaining. All of the death camps are listed. On a personal note … family members from both sides of my family perished in these.
Sadly, there is also Jasenovac — a Croatian town where the Ustashe did their own share of slaughter. How sad and tragic that there are those today in Croatia who would deny the horrors of the Nazi and Ustashe regimes. Even more tragically and shamefully, our political “leaders” continue to turn a blind eye and in fact routinely encourage such behaviour.
But enough of the dark times — let’s go back to sunny Berlin!
How times have changed — the mighty Reichstag used to be the seat of the most hated regime on Earth — and today it is one of the cornerstones of European democracy! I didn’t take the time to visit the famous glass dome, that’ll have to wait for another visit.
The Paul-Löbe-Haus, a stunning example of modern architecture, a government building next to the Reichstag by the Spree.
Another striking building is the Kanzleramt, the Office of the Prime Minister. Apparently it’s quite controversial amongst Berliners. The super elongated building is hard to capture from a short distance…
Leaving the monumental government complex, I decided I should reward my hard touristic endeavors with a cold beer by the tranquil Spree.
Ich bin ein …
I took a few minutes deciding whether to hop on the bus back to my flat but finally made up my mind to take the half-hour walk, taking me largely through and by the side of the sprawling Tiergarten park. It’s wonderful even in February on a sunny day and must be really enjoyable in the green spring and summer months.
My walk eventually took me to another landmark — the Victory Column or Siegessäule.
Again as it’s probably necessary in Berlin there’s a long and colorful history with the column being moved from one place to another and having an important place in Hitler’s plans to create a global metropolis out of Berlin but I’ll leave that for you readers to investigate. Check out the golden yellow vertical “things” going round and round the column in four successive circles. The bottom three circles are actually cannon captured by the German army in three successive wars…
The Germans sure like to pay tribute to their artists, scientists, philosophers and other (some of my friends would say) “good for nothings”. Here’s Kantstrasse — old Immanuel got a really nice street to his name. Someday when I’m President of Croatia the great philosophers of the Praxis school of the 60’s and 70’s — Gajo Petrović, Milan Kangrga (I loved going to his classes!) and others will have some nice streets and parks named after them :-) :-)
My friend Aleksandra recommended “Zwiebelfisch” for a well deserved dinner. It’s a wonderful little Gasthaus with that typical German intellectual flair, all the walls lined floor to ceiling with posters, photos, pictures … You could study the walls for hours without ever needing to check your phone for Facebook or Instagram updates!
I got myself some typical local fare — onion (“zwiebel”) soup followed by grilled sausages with potatoes and sauerkraut. Mahlzeit!
On the next day I headed out to a gallery with an exhibition focusing on the use of the female body in advertising — “Women on View”. I found out when I got there that I should have checked opening hours as the gallery is closed on Mondays. Lessons learned!
The street however featured some nice pieces of the Berlin wall, one by Robin van Arsdol who apparently is a living legend, having co-created the Street Art movement along with the much more famous Keith Haring. Well — there you have it. I definitely dig the message though :-)
Another piece of the wall is for some reason suspended from the facade, presumably to keep the passersby alert … and a piece of the building is nicely adorned with some really cool graffiti.
Buddy bears are everywhere in Berlin. Here’s a quick explanation of how they came to be and what they are about. In short — promoting friendship and happiness. I could imagine worse reasons ❤ These guys are promoting two hotels and a shop with medical supplies, including orthoses and such. Try and figure out which is the medical buddy bear :-)
In most subways, you will be attacked by large posters advertising everything from iPhones to the latest and greatest packaged tours and scenic holidays. In Berlin, inspirational quotes from Einstein and Slash (yeah, the guitar guy) inviting you to the nearby Natural History Museum. This seems to be a thing with Berlin — arriving at the airport I noticed huge posters with photos of the city lining the airport walls instead of the usual bullshit from the Big 4 management consultancies, banks, telcos etc.
After the ill fated gallery visit I was off to the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin (German Museum of Technology). No better place to check out some awesome technical stuff than Berlin, right? Yes — assuming you checked the working hours. You guessed it — closed on Mondays! At least I could photograph that plane hanging from the building!
The Germans somehow find a way to have funny quotes on cement mixing trucks. The next person who says they don’t have a sense of humor to my face will get punched in the face.
Note that the cemnt truck is actually promoting the building it’s working on, not the more usual situation of promoting the construction company. Extra revenue — lessons from EasyJet, presumably.
Part of my walk (yes — more walking) back into my part of town took me through a very peaceful residential street with almost no shops, cafes etc. Except for this little local corner cafe offering a well deserved beer stop.
If you have a geeky science oriented friend you might want to buy them a drink at the Isotop.
Lunchtime by now but where to go? I decided to try something I hadn’t done in a very, very long time and fired up Foursquare. Yes, you read that right, I’m one of the few remaining Foursquare / Swarm regulars and enjoy it all the more for the small tightly knit community it has become (or remained).
In the event Foursquare turned out to be a super useful guide, guiding me to yet another truly wonderful Gaststube — the Joseph Roth Diele. The super enjoyable, wonderful ambience reminded me of Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well Lit Place” for some reason. And of Henry Miller’s “Quiet Days in the Clichy”.
Nearby was an elegant fashion store — the Acne Studios. Why on Earth anyone would choose such a name for anything I find it hard to understand — but then again, if there’s anything I’m totally clueless about, it’s fashion. And football.
A cool mural and an interesting park sculpture and the famous KaDeWe (near my place) round out this somewhat lengthy blog post. Hope you’ve enjoyed it :-)