Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Eyes of a Berlin Tourist

This past weekend my cousin from the States buzzed into town for a thirty hour whirl-wind tour of Berlin... Well of course Berlin can't be covered in a day... much less a week... but that was her only option.

Unfortunately she arrived DURING the Berlin Marathon which normally wouldn't be such a problem except she booked a hotel right in the middle of the route. All of this meant that there was no way to get normal transport to her hotel from the airport. I met her at Tegel and we schlepped her stuff to the middle of town by using one bus and two different trains. The whole affair took almost an hour and a half. Of course on a normal day it would have been a maximum thirty minute single bus ride... but that day was no normal day.

My cousin had just recently turned seventy (my Mother was the youngest of five, and I was as well... leaving a sizable age gap between the two of us) which hasn't seemed to slow her down much. All in all it meant that we had lots of time to take in the scenery thanks to walking more slowly, we needed to consider each place we went for the amount of stairs which could be a barrier, and that we would have lots of relaxation time spent in the many famous Berlin cafe's.

When we finally got out on the town to do some touristy things, we decided on the Pergamon Museum. It was very close to her hotel and of course one of the most visited locations in all of Berlin.
Which of course is the home of the famous Ishtar Gate, one of the famous gates into the city of Babylon. This thing was built in the 500's, and brought to Berlin in the 1930's.

Also painstakingly reconstructed in this museum is the Pergamon Altar which is quite huge, the size of which is very hard to convey in this medium, so I just got a piece of it.

The next day we thought long and hard about what to do. Eventually she said that this short visit had merely whet her appetite for more of Berlin and that she fully intended to come back to this great city. Thus we decided to use the few hours we had and do a quick buzz of the city using the public transport bus 100. The 100 bus is a regular BVG public transport bus which runs from from West (Zoologischer Garten) to East (Alexanderplatz) and back, passing many landmarks such as the Europa Center, The Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower and other sights along the way. We learned the magic of taking pictures from inside of a bus along the way.

This is Schloss Bellevue (from the bus of course) which is the official residence of the federal president in Berlin. It was originally built in the mid 1780's and of course rebuilt after WWII.

Here we have a familiar Berliner face... the Buddy Bear. All throughout the city you find him and his friends. Always painted in different ways. I really liked this guy's tie, so I snapped a pic of him from the bus.

This is the infamous and famous Zoo Station. If you need a cop while in the city of Berlin, don't bother making a phone call... just go to Zoo Station, there must be ten of them walking around the station at any one time. STILL there is an ever present smell of piss, homeless people stink, stale cigarettes, human rot, and of course beer.

It is the ONE location in this whole city in which I do not feel safe. The dark walkway under the tracks is like an exhibition of all the lowlifes to be found in this normally wonderful city. One time I got turned around and went out the wrong door and found myself face to face with at least thirty people in line for what looked like soup. Now I tend to avoid the place if possible. Berlin is doing its best to clean it up, and at the same time redirect traffic to the new Hauptbahnhof, but as far as I can see the station is just as bad as when I came to Berlin.

Of course no visit to Berlin would be complete without checking out the Berliner Dom. The Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz is of course poking around into the picture as well.

We had a very nice visit, and I hope she is serious about returning. It is so nice for me to finally be able to show someone around my adopted home. Really it gave me a chance to look at the city again through the fresh eyes of a tourist. The feel of Berlin is simply different to me in these tourist areas than it is in the places I find myself most of the time. Also she is actually interested in the history of the area, and it is nice to discuss this with someone again.

When I first came to Berlin I spent the better part of a year just getting to know the city... either through public transport or by bike. I've been many places in the city, in fact I can say that I know many of these areas better than some of the natives, but really didn't have a lot of money to check out the museums. Now that I have the money of course I don't have the time. I guess that is the way of life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

here's marcy's cuz in the u s of a...ready to report on the latest awful news from the rethugs...namely mccain/palin ticket...this woman represents not a damn thing this 70 yr old cuz holds dear...palin is against roe vs wade (in my day women died trying to abort themselves with coat hangers, guess sassy sarah is up for that)...sassy sarah also tried to fire the town librarian because she wouldn't censor books, kinda makes you folks in berlin remember the book burnings, and me a former practicing catholic, the catholic banned books list (do they still have that)..and of course palin and her "family values" which make me wonder, no sex ed could very well lead to unplanned pg for 17 year olds, so much for that...did anyone see the palin family and new fiance' at the rethug conv...the 18 yr old levi looked like a trapped deer (dear)..not to mention her take on the gay community in general, which is obscene in this day and age...palin is in bed with big oil, and altho sez she's against ear marks, got plenty for her town as mayor.. this woman represents absolutely nothing my sisters and i fought for in the work place, in the home, in the community, in the world...she's small time and i and others like me are working 1000% to defeat this disaster in nov 08..i am an officer of the state of az democratic party, officer of local cochise co party, several democratic women's clubs, and work at democratic hq...obama is my guy and biden is just my report ends with the hope of a greater tomorrow with obama and biden at the best to all you berliners...aunt kathie crow