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porcupine Berlin - A travel report by Bryan
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Berlin,  Germany - flag Germany -  Berlin
2914 readers

porcupine's travel reports

Hello Walls

  13 votes
In September 2007 I spent 5 days in the German capital of Berlin. The city is flat and sprawling but getting around is easy on the public transportation which is frequent and infamously on time.

Holy Hohenzolerin
Holy Hohenzolerin
I was surprised at the massive amount of graffiti on public and private structures which gives the place a sense of discontent just beneath its surface. Many youth still express their rebellion as if it’s 1985 with spiked blue Mohawks and Doc Martens, but if there’s one thing that’s consistent about Berlin, it is variety.

Favourite spots:
Brandenburg Tor at night
Brandenburg Tor at night
Near the Ostkreuz S-Bahn stop where I stayed with friends are remnants of the Berlin Wall which have been turned into murals deemed the East Side Gallery. In the heart of downtown is the Hackescher Market where I spent most of my time. At Hackescher. there are outdoor stalls set up offering fresh produce, cheese, and breads, among prepared foods that you can eat on the spot, as well as various craft work. The Scheunenviertel neighborhood near Hackescher is great for walking with its abundant cafes and shops, and the old Synagogue destroyed on Kristalnacht is now a museum open to the public.

What's really great:
Potzdamer Platz
Potzdamer Platz
Take the S-Bahn to the Hauptbanhoff to see the Reichstag (Deutscher Bundestag) and Brandenburg Gate. I went at night and got lucky hitting a special evening opening of the Reichstag for a rooftop view of the city from its renovated glass dome. Nearby is the perfectly landscaped and vast park called Tiergarten, and the remodeled Potzdamer Platz. Potzdamer which was destroyed by the wall has been rebuilt as a commercial center with fountains, colorfully lit architecture, and an IMAX theater. Hooray for reunification, now give me some ice cream and watch out for the Scientology hawkers.

Ishtar Gate detail at Pergamon Museum
Ishtar Gate detail at Pergamon Museum
Museum Island is the main area for tourists to congregate and why not? There are treasures there stolen from every culture that has existed since the beginning of time, and I for one was not going to miss my chance to see the Babylonian Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum. I also hit the Bode Museum which was loaded with beautiful wooden statuary and religious icons from the first millennium onward.

Reichstag Restored
Reichstag Restored
The Beliner Dom houses a collection of dead Hohenzolerin royalty in the basement that is certainly unrivaled. In the end, there are more museums and historic places on the island than you could possibly see and appreciate in a short time so pick your poison.

Friedrichswerdersche Kerk
Friedrichswerdersche Kerk
My personal favorite spot just south of Museum Island was a little church called Friedrichswerdersche. Inside this formerly war ravaged red brick and wood church designed by architect Schinkel, is a meticulously renovated space where all of the pews have been removed and substituted with the statuary of Rauch and Schadow, among other 19th century sculptors. It is peaceful, beautifully lit by stained glass filtered sun, delicate with its creaking wooden floors and rafters, and sublime with its statuary. May all defunct churches meet a fate as aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention, it’s free. Don’t miss it.

I made one trip further a field to Potsdam in the former East to see the palaces and grounds of Friedrich der Große (Frederick II of Prussia) primary residence known as Sanssouci (Without Cares). This massive estate is loaded with palace buildings, fountains, gardens, and enough over wrought royal splendor to make Donald Trump feel like a depression era hobo. It is beyond all reason, it’s big, and it’s beautiful. Prepare to be exhausted from the sheer size of the place, and by the overwhelming amount of opulence. Definitely worth seeing.

Peter Falk rules this town
Peter Falk rules this town
If you don’t have a lot of money you can still have those things minus the food and beer. I didn’t go there to see Nazi stuff, and I saved Checkpoint Charlie for another visit. I know I missed a lot and I plan on seeing it another time. Although some places have been conquered in a day, Rome and Berlin are not among them.

Other recommendations:
Pretzel & Beer at Hackescher Markt
Pretzel & Beer at Hackescher Markt
Berlin is a busy and thriving city. If you have some money you can definitely have your fill of good food and beer, the arts, music, history, and a dynamic youth culture scene.

Published on Saturday April 19th, 2008

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Sun, Aug 30 2009 - 01:18 PM rating by geri

Great report! I love your closing sentence. :)

Sat, May 10 2008 - 02:09 AM rating by marianne

Love your pretzel and beer photo. What's in the bowl?

Tue, Apr 29 2008 - 02:12 PM rating by murrayskinner


Great report. I visited Berlin several years ago and posted a report with some of the same observations. Have a look at it!

Sun, Apr 20 2008 - 01:54 AM rating by davidx

Very good report -I guess Berlin merits more than one report as well as more time!

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