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.
Although it’s a little bit cold and rainy in Berlin at the moment, when I left it several weeks ago, Spring had definitely sprung. Everyone was out in full force, enjoying the warm weather with many table side cafes and the wonderful biergartens (no translations necessary) where the British have something to learn from the efficiency of German people serving beer. There is simply no mucking about!
Above is a picture of one of the streets I pass regularly on the way to work. Quite a distinct contrast from its leafless, sombre brown branches I barely saw in the dark back in January.
And one of the aforementioned biergartens, this one fairly well known, called Prater Garten.
Last weekend, there was the Picto Plasma festival focused on contemporary character design and exhibitions. I saw some pretty awesome art including paintings, sculptures and various motion-based exhibitions. Throughout the festival, there were some movie exhibitions and I went along highlighting some of the festival favourites. This is just one great video I really liked:
Working and living in Berlin, you notice a lot of tension between the locals and the concern about the rate of gentrification the city undergoes. The fact that there is plenty of interesting things to do, plenty of interesting people to meet and the fact that it’s one of Europe’s cheapest capitals are all obvious drawing points that mean people with reasonable amounts of cash can come in and enjoy themselves much better than they could in other places. This, of course, only serves to accelerate the rate of gentrification with more money flowing and the environment working to match the needs of the more affluent people.
Here’s an interesting video worth watching to get a flavour of just the tension that exists in Berlin today.