Monday, October 3, 2011

Barcelona: Day 40 : More of Berlin .

Well it's Sunday and there is tons more of Berlin to see, so we were out the door relatively early today. We were going to see the Berlin Wall Park, which is not so much a memorial as it is a park. In German, it is called Der Mauerpark, and it was designed by Gustav Lange. There are parts of the wall left all over the city, and what they did here was take the Death Strip and turn it into a great green space. It's interesting how this space went from being a border to a freely accessible area. What's also interesting is that there literally has never been anything in that space prior to this park -- even before WWII.

We got a chance to stop and relax and they had some really sick swings (pictures to come eventually). In addition there is the soccer practice field for one of the German soccer teams (I'm presuming Berlin, but I honestly have no idea). This park has almost 40,000 visitors pass through it per day, and there is also the flea market that we had a chance to go through.

In some ways, it was reminiscent of Barcelona, especially on La Rambla, where tons of people are walking all the time. I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan. The market had lots of interesting things, but nothing really caught my eye -- I think partially I was just frustrated that you were literally shoulder to shoulder with everyone and moved like molasses. I do have to say though; Ryan, Kendall, Ian and I stopped for a burger in there and it was freakin' awesome!
behind me is the piece of the Berlin Wall


that is the burger! may not look great but believe me.. it was unreal.
On the way walking to other things, we briefly stopped at a plaza that housed the Deutscher Dom and the Franzözischer Dom. These are a pair of cathedrals that look almost exactly the same, and were almost competing with the design. In addition there is also a stately-looking opera house in the area. The two cathedrals face each other, which is very strange; and I'm not sure if they're still used for anything, but that's okay.

We also briefly stopped at the book burning memorial near the Humboldt Universität Bibliothek. This area has got some really heavy architecture, that also seems to pull from classical influence. The book burning is when the Nazis were burning all sorts of literature, and it was in this exact place that it happened. The memorials for a lot of things are very weird -- they don't seem to be very glorified. In fact, quite the opposite, they seem to be subtle and almost hidden. This one was just a panel of glass in the ground that showed a huge bookcase underground that was empty.

the library; the memorial to the right if you were standing in this photo
Nearby there is another memorial that exemplifies early 19th century classical architecture. This is a memorial to the victims of WWII, but it has sort of become a sort of soldiers' memorial. There has been talk about making this memorial to also include dedication to those victims of the Holocaust who were not Jewish, but basically were prosecuted for some other reason.

The box above is called the Humboldt Box. It's actually supposed to be a temporary cultural center, that is a placeholder for an ancient castle that was destroyed in the war. Kathrin really hates it; yet is intrigued somewhat. She was telling us how the form has nothing to do with the preexisting castle, and really seems like a bit of an eyesore. I kind of like it, but more because of the ideology behind it. I think the form is a bit goofy... but, it certainly sticks out! It should be interesting to see how the area changes as progress is made on the new castle behind built there.

I think the highlight of the day was what we saw next, which is the Berliner Dom. This church is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. The royal sarcophagus was actually moved here, and in the basement there are tons of other caskets as well (it almost looks like a dark graveyard down there...) but I'm getting ahead of myself.
This church was actually destroyed and rebuilt several times; though I suppose this concept is getting old because I keep saying it. Berlin was pretty much leveled after WWII... people just had to start over, and it's really impressive how far they've come. A guy named Stühler was greatly involved in the design of this church, the second time it was built up. Though it was destroyed in the war, it opened again fully in 1993 after its reconstruction. There are 270 steps to the top where the dome is, and of course that was a must to go up and see the view. Since Berlin's skyline is really not that tall, with the exception of a few Deutsche-Bahn towers and the area of Potsdamer Platz, it really gives you a great view of the surrounding area, not to mention you could feel the wind blowing across your face the whole time. Also, the church looks kind of black because it is dirty -- they don't clean it because the soft stone would then just develop more pores that would suck up even more dirt.

i love this -- someone must have planted something different on the ground
The last stop of the day was on Museum Island. It's kinda funny because you're on an island there and don't even notice it. I'd try googling a picture of a map of Museum Island in Berlin and you'll see what I"m talking about -- the city is seamless in this area, despite the fact there is water running and encircling a piece of land. None of the roads really stop either. This area was built for the Prussians, and again Greek architecture was a large influence.

There are a good number of museums all right next to each other here (seriously, there are like 5 of them). I'm not going to try to list them because honestly I'm not sure what they all are -- but we were able to go into one of the museums that had a great Egyptian exhibit. The German museums seem to have a very odd collection of pieces -- but to be honest it's amazing they have anything given that Berlin was left in shambles. We looked around for a bit, and after looking at Nefertiti (a famous art piece that we had studied in art history) we decided to head out to dinner.

Now, normally I don't talk about meals too much, but this one has a bit of a silly story to go along with it. We stopped to eat at this Italian-looking place, and sat down. Our poor waitress pretty much had the most terrible time that night -- We got the feeling she was new, and was hustling her ass to take care of the people outside. The managers or maybe some head waiters were running all over her and she took forever to ask us for good and whatnot. Or course, when checkout came, we needed the check split in 3, which luckily we were able to tell her before she printed just one. But when Ryan and I tried to pay with credit cards the machine wouldn't work for her. Then with the change purse, she didn't have enough to give us change back. This poor girl, everything went wrong! I used as much German as I could to maybe somehow make her day a little bit better; but anyway, here's a prayer that goes out to you. Hopefully the restaurant business won't run you ragged!

Well it's late and I definitely need the sleep. Bis morgen!

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