Monday, May 27, 2013

Going home from Berlin

27 May 2013

Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

Pretty clouds above Berlin...

... and grim dark clouds over Frankfurt, where it was storming. Descending into the storm it was really dark.

Nothing more to see here.

Friday, May 24, 2013


24 May 2013

Kreuzberg - known these days as a neighborhood of immigrants and students. Here is a crowded currywurst shop near the subway station.
These cellars below the street level were originally used to store wood and coal, as labeled on this building.
Awesomely detailed graffiti art.
Yep, two years later I still think it's cool that the drain covers and manhole covers are so ornate in Germany. 
Inside this building (below the elephant nose lamp) is an art studio group.
The art studios have cleverly transformed the old buildings into a beautiful garden.

The Kreuzberg Markthalle (Market Hall) as seen from the outside.

On the inside, it is modern and upscale, full of high-end and/or organic products and a far cry from the crowded markets in China.
The gorgeous Passionskirche, poorly photographed by yours truly. Sadly, the beautiful side view is now blocked by a building which has been built just a couple of meters away.
The front is obscured by large trees, making it impossible (for me) to get a good photo. Maybe in winter when the trees lose their leaves... the architecture is just too amazing not to photograph.
 Hot chocolate at Sarotti, yummmmmm.... no Swiss Miss junk here, this is the REAL DEAL. Sarotti has been manufacturing chocolates since the 1800's.
Notice in both pictures, the Sarotti-Moor... talk about bygone eras.
On the arched ceiling, but not photographed, was a sky with clouds and cherubs sporting sunglasses and mp3 players, as if in counterpoint to Little Black Sambo.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Around Berlin

23 May 2013

Here are some random pics from around Berlin.

Inside the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). I love the glass structure, but the train was just arriving so had to hop on and not take more photos.

On my daily bike ride to school, I passed by this lovely church: Pfingstkirche, Friedrichshain.

In front of the church is a fabulous park area with a playground and lawn. On sunny afternoons it was crowded with picnickers.

A child's warning - do not drink poison? Do not use pesticides? Do not throw plastic bottles on the ground?

A gloomy day at Frankfurter Tor.

But these lovely little blooming wildflowers were a bright spot.

I still find the building art fascinating, whether it is graffiti or not. I think these were apartments.

This one is in Prenzlauerberg. Love the details in this artwork.

This incredible mysterious locked up and ovegrown brick building is next to the Burgeramt in Prenzlauerberg. It looks like a church, but we cannot identify it.

And again the compass needle of the Ferrnsehturm in the city center.

Architectural detail of a building on Frankfurter Allee.

And a little fractured English. What are they trying to say about their shop or products? I have no idea.
Hi I don't care thank you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sprachenatelier Language School

23 May 2013

This trip, rather than sightseeing like a fiend, I decided to spend my time taking a German course at one of Berlin's many private language schools. Two weeks went by in a flash and I wish it could have been longer, but two weeks of classes at three hours per day (plus homework) helped me improve tremendously.

Here are some pictures taken in and around my language school. Not my best photography ever, but you get an idea anyway.

The school is located on Frankfurter Allee. Here you can see the two towers of the historical Frankfurter Tor on either side of the street.  Between them and farther along is the Fernsehturm or TV tower, which acts as a compass, pointing out the center of Berlin no matter where you go.

The name of the school is Sprachenatelier, and it is in the most amazing old building. I am not so knowledgeable about architecture, but based on its appearance and that of the building behind it, I would guess that it was built after World War I during the Art Deco period.

As seen from the opposite side of the street:

Standing in front of the sign and the central gate which leads to the courtyard and back buildings:

Looking back toward the street through the courtyard gate. The courtyard was where we could park our bicycles.

View looking up the Sprachenatelier building from the back/courtyard side. At right was the most amazing staircase. Sadly my photos of the inside of the staircase did not turn out.

Window detail on the building directly behind at the back of the courtyard. That building housed some sort of rehab center, I think. Through the downstairs window I could see the cooks preparing meals in the large kitchen.

The entry of the building as seen from inside. Gorgeous details, if only you could see them in the photo.

Here are the amazing inlaid wood panels to the left and right in the above photo.

The handrail going up the stairwell was also original wood, and the doors on each landing had similar gorgeous inlaid wood designs. 
 And last, but not least: the bakery where I spent each morning before class having coffee and doing my homework. They had fabulous belegtes Brötchen (open faced sandwich on a freshly baked roll)., Yummmm. Good thing I was doing so much bicycling.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reichstag Building/Reichstagsgebäude

21 May 2013

We went to tour the capitol, the Reichstag Building or Reichstagsgebäude. By pre-arranged appointment, tourists can enter the roof and dome areas free of cost. First one must go through a security checkpoint in a small building outside, then pass through a security door to get inside the building.

 This high-ceilinged area is just inside the main doors after passing through the security entrance. We then entered a big elevator as a group to go up to the roof.
The glass dome as seen from the roof.
The parliament meeting room is below the dome in the center of the building. Inside the dome is a mirrored cone, which is designed to reflect light into the meeting room through the central skylight at its base.

The outer spiral is a walkway for tourists to go up to the top.

Everyone had to take a photo in the mirrors - including me. :)

There is a large sun shade which moves around the dome with the sun to prevent excessive glare. I imagine that without it, the reflection could be quite blinding to those inside (and broil them as though under a magnifying glass). 

Looking down at the skylight from the spiral walkway.
The top of the dome, which is open to the sky at the top. That's right, no glass - the rain collects and runs down the inside of the cone, and back out to the river.
The side windows are also open to allow free airflow inside the dome. In winter it must be like an icebox. It's lovely to sit at the top and watch the clouds.
At left below is one of the corner towers of the Reichstag Building. Just beyond it is the famous Brandenburger Tor, which looks sadly tiny as it was not intended to be viewed from above, but rather to loom majestically over those passing under it (and it DOES). In the far background are a forest of red cranes due to a tremendous amount of construction going on in the downtown (Mitte) area. I am so glad I visited those areas in 2011 before the construction, as much of downtown is currently torn up.
In this shot you can see the inner courtyard - the outer wall and towers is the only part of the building which is original. The whole interior has been rebuilt in modern style - rather a match for the rest of Berlin, a mixture of old and new.
A view of the River Spree, with the ever-present Fernsehturm (TV Tower) lurking in the distance and marking the center of town no matter where you are in Berlin.
The vaguely Mount Fuji-shaped building in the distance is the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.
The front of the Reichstag Building, in all its splendor.
Looking up under the columns one can see the initials of Friedrich III, Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II (I think).

I captured the moon! Yay!

Long evening shadows after we came out...
This nearby monstrosity, which houses more governmental bodies, has been aptly nicknamed "The Washing Machine" by the locals.
This fountain let me get ONE photo before they shut it off for the day. Lucky shot!