I have no idea where the last couple of months have gone, but it’s been a very busy one. Life has been good with a project quite close to home, I thought I would have more time to blog, but I guess other things are getting in the way. Keeping fit has been a big part to this year, after travelling a lot last year and difficult keeping a proper routine, it’s been good to have a bit more of a regular schedule. I also managed to self-publish my own book at the start of August although the rest of August was busy preparing for the big Agile conference in Dallas.
In terms of personal stuff, I managed to make it to an Olympics event (yay!) – 10m quarter final women’s diving where we got to enjoy the Olympic stadium after work and the amazingly fun atmosphere. Although I didn’t win any tickets in the ballot, a good friend offered me one for the event that I took with no hesitation with the price point, timing and event matching up pretty well.
For the August bank holiday weekend, I spent the time in Berlin which was very fun to get back. I was less a tourist this time and spent a bit more time catching up with friends, revisiting old haunts and trying to practice my terrible (but much better) German on the poor Germans who would respond in kind. September is already here and I’m about to embark on a trip to China for a couple of weeks where the family will be visiting from Australia.
Sorry for not keeping up to date, but there’s a short summary of things going on. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty but life seems to get busier and busier!
Like London, Berlin is filled to the brim with history. What’s more interesting is the way that many of these historical sites are often inaccessible to the public, and for the most part, not even used by the city of Berlin itself. When our product owner, talked about the Tempelhof Airport being opened for the registration parts of the Berlin marathon, I thought it’d be a great time to see the interior the building and see what it was all about.
The building itself is normally closed during the operation, but its hangers are often used for big events such as the Berlin marathon that attracts more than 40, 000 registrants to run it it. It attracts a huge number of visitors even just as spectators, and of course, as a result, many sponsors who want to showcase their wares. In a clever arrangement, as a person picking up their kit, you have to walk through two huge hangers filled with sponsor’s stuff (and of course lots of sales and equipment to buy) before you can pick up your kit. And of course, you have to walk past more on the way out. As one would expect here in Germany, it was all very efficiently and effectively run.
It was great to see the interior to the airport itself. It felt surprisingly modern or not as outdated as I thought it would feel. It was also the easiest time I’ve had to get through any type of security, simply paying €2 to get entrance into the whole event.
Here’s a picture above of a marathon record holder who also beat my time for the half marathon, effectively doing more than half my pace. Insane!
I couldn’t really believe how big the entire event was either, with the entire registration area attracting several cafes and restaurants and working to fill two or three different airplane hangers with merchandising, advertising and basically everything a running enthusiast would care for.
I’m really glad that we could go inside and see what it was all about. I’d highly recommend you go if the opportunity arises as wel.
On one of the previous weekends I hung around Berlin, I dropped into the DDR museum. It’s literally around the corner from where I stay and holds a lot of the memorabilia from the East Berlin side when the wall divided the city.
They had plenty of artefacts, everything from cars, school articles, clothing and newspapers and create a stiflingly close atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re transported in time. Perhaps it was also its popularity with people and the fact that the rain brought even more people than usual inside.
I didn’t get the audio guide, but there with plenty of signs to see, and things to interact with, there was enough in the two large sections to keep me busy for a couple of hours.
The DDR museum is found on Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1 right on the river Spree and directly opposite the Berlin Cathedral.
I like to think that London has a many more green spaces when compared to New York City. Although I agree that Central Park is an impressive area, it’s not really designed to be accessible by all people and really only most beneficial for those rich enough to afford park side residences.
London has many more areas, though Berlin still puts London to shame. It’s not really a fair comparison though because Berlin doesn’t have the lack of space problem.
One of the parks I visited recently was Friedrichshain’s Volkspark (or the Folk’s Park). Friedrichshain Volkspark is a pretty awesome place. Different to Tiergarten, this one seems really built up for utility rather than just the green space around it. I saw everything from tennis courts, beach volleyball courts and a fountained area near a cafe where everyone can lounge around in.
It’s even got one of the hilliest points in the city that I’ve seen so far, with good vantage points of the surrounding area.
Located not far from Mitte, another great green alternative to the rest of the city.
Inspired by our ventures in the UK to do a high ropes course, Michael managed to find one located right in the heart of the city that we could take part in immediately after work called, “Mount Mitte“. Being centrally located, the chances of tree top adventures wasn’t very high – instead a three stories man made tower of diabolical courses that meant more flexibility and proved much more interesting because you could choose any path you would like.
They had special harnesses and a really cool safety mechanism that made sure you would always be attached as some point. They had two floating cars you could sit in suspended by wires, and even one of classic German “Standkörb” (canopied wicker chairs) to sit in above all the beach volleyball courts that surround the location.
It was great value and an awesome evening for it too.
I’d written about tension in Berlin previously. I’d also been warned about the May day riots that typically happen all over Germany, although this year it apparently turned out much quieter than in previous years.
This doesn’t really mean that things didn’t really happen. Take this (former) BMW car for instance, that I found in Friedrichshain one weekend. The smell of burnt everything still lingered in the air.
Here’s a different shot from the front.
It’s these little things that remind you of how many issues often get swept under the carpet.