Way back when as a fresh faced, wide-eyed teenager I embarked on a 36 hour train-ferry-train adventure to south east Poland to visit a pen-friend. These were the days of the ‘Iron Curtain’. On the outward journey the train was filled with British soldiers heading to Berlin. With each bottle of beer the trip became like a huge party. We entered the City at night. I gazed out at a clean and modern cityscape. In the station the troops disembarked and now, in silence, the train inched forward through the divide which almost touched the carriages. On the other side more troops embarked. These were not in the least bit friendly, welcome to the East! We moved through a dark and desolate City which, to my eyes, looked not to have been touched since 1945.
Back in July our daughter (who I refer to as the Lemming) graduated from university in Manchester and announced she was moving to Berlin. So last weekend Mrs H and myself jumped on a plane and in half the time it takes to drive to Manchester we were in the German capital.
The district she is living in is Neukolln. Like most of the areas we visited the narrow cobbled streets are lined by five storey buildings, the older ones are very ornate, these are formed into blocks with the inner courtyards filled with trees. Trees also line the streets at about every 15m. So on our visit, in autumn, they make a wonderfully colourful backdrop.
The Lemming took us on a tour during our stay. The weather was superb with sun, light breeze and temperatures in 20’s c. Not everyplace is a famous landmark so please join me as I relive some of the highlights in a two part blog (thanks to wiki and google for filling in the blanks).
In the district of Kreuzberg, on Admiralstrasse, stands this sculpture by Ludmila Seefried-Matejkova. Erected in 1985 it is called ‘The Double Admiral’ and it depicts a mirror image of Admiral Adalbert who in 1848 founded the unified German fleet. Seated besides the egg timer shaped globes are two bronze punks to represent the area’s modern scene.
The Ramones museum on Skalitzer Street was right at the top of my ‘must visit’ wish list having been a fan of the New York punk band since I first heard them in ’76 and seeing them live in ’87. R.I.P Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee & Tommy.
Crossing the River Spree via the Oberbaum Bridge your eyes are taken by this massive 30m high sculpture standing in the river. ‘Molecule Man’ is by Jonathan Borofsky and erected in 1999 on the intersection of Treptow, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts to represent unity as the river was the boundary between east and west. It consists of three aluminium figures leaning in. The two-dimensional human shapes are full of holes to depict the human molecules.
In Berlin, by the wall
you were five foot ten inches tall.
Lou Reed ‘Berlin’ 1973
The ‘East Side Gallery’ is a must see. 1.3km of the Berlin Wall was painted in 1990 (one year after it’s fall) by 105 artists from around the world. In 2009 restoration was started as the original art work was defaced by graffiti (as is most of the City). I could do a blog alone on the famous, haunting and thought provoking murals.
To end our first day we went to the Tempelhofer Feld. At 355ha this is the worlds largest inner-city open space. On the site of Tempelhof airport which closed in 2008 it was given to the people of Berlin. And thousands enjoy cycling, walking, playing or just relaxing everyday. There are bars, cafes, bbq areas, dog walking areas, community allotments and nature zones, also a great view of the sunset!