Work Day in Berlin

Monday arrived, which was the day set aside for my all-afternoon meeting with the localization firm representatives I was here to meet. That meant I had the morning to walk around and take pictures, so here’s some of what I saw:

Statue of Bertolt Brecht
Friedrichstraße Station

This is the U-bahn station closest to the hotel I was staying at. From my hotel room I can see the subway trains heading off through the other side of the station. I took this picture while heading to Unter den Linden in order to pick up some souvenir gifts for my daughters.

Closed Off Embassy
Closed Off Embassy

One of the local embassies on a side-street to Unter den Linden where through traffic is not permitted, presumably to prevent would-be suicide bombers.

Man Dressed as Soldier Statue
Man Dressed as Soldier Statue

This was just in front of the Brandenburg Gates, and from a distance I thought that this was a new statue that had somehow appeared overnight. When I got closer, it was obvious that it was a young man made up to look like a statue. Presumably his military garb recalls those who kept watch over The Berlin Wall which was once situated nearby. I took his pic and gave him the suggested donation for doing so (2 euros). He moved and said “Danke” when I deposited the money in the money. Not in the picture and just a few yards down from him was a woman who would strike poses while turning slowly on the top of a small plinth, dressed up as a German princess. There was also a person dressed up in a bear suit (the mascot of the city) who was there explicitly for tourists to take pictures of.

Another Picture of The Brandenburg Gate
Another Picture of The Brandenburg Gate

Another Picture of The Brandenburg Gate Quadriga
Another Picture of The Brandenburg Gate Quadriga

I was in the area by the Brandenburg Gate because I wanted to pick up some presents for my daughters back home. I ended up buying two small necklaces made by a local artisan at the following store.

T.O.T.s on Unter Den Linden
T.O.T.s on Unter Den Linden

Section of The Wall by the Store
Section of The Wall by the Store

The following building was another reminder that I was in what was formerly East Berlin, just up the street from the Russian Embassy

Aeroflot Office
Aeroflot Office

I was disappointed that the Checkpoint Charlie Museum I visited yesterday didn’t actually have much in the way of good books about the history of The Wall, but I had briefly popped into the Berlin Store on my previous peregrinations, and figured it was a better bet.

Berlin Story Store front
Berlin Story Store front

It was, and I ended up getting a decent book on the subject of Cold War Germany, plus a couple of colourful Trabant erasers for my girls. (I never did see any Trabants while here in Berlin). I also caved in and bought a small piece of painted concrete representing itself as part of The Wall. There was a sign in Italian where I could just make out that while the pieces were genuine, the painted colours may not be the original, so someone is taking pieces of concrete with a flat surface and painting them. I had wondered why all of the small pieces I had seen for sale all seemed to use the same three colours — I couldn’t imagine a graffiti artist being bored enough to create random small blotches of colour on The Wall.

For All Your Frederick the Great Needs
For All Your Frederick the Great Needs

The store was also part private museum, and at the back was a small cafe where documentaries were screened in multiple languages about the history of the city, as well as a model of what this stretch of the city used to look like.

Checkpoint Charlie Sign and Cafe
Checkpoint Charlie Sign and Cafe

Scale Model of Berlin
Scale Model of Berlin

Satisfied with my purchases I went back to my hotel, had some lunch and soon after made my way to my meeting in the heart of what had been East Berlin.

Wrought Iron Imperial Eagle on Bridge
Wrought Iron Imperial Eagle on Bridge

Wrought Iron Dolphin - Detail
Wrought Iron Dolphin – Detail

Construction is seemingly a constant in the city, and it was at around this time that I figured out what made up the distinct smell of city: diesel fumes and concrete dust.

Construction in the Former East Berlin and TV Tower
Construction in the Former East Berlin and TV Tower

In addition to the seemingly pervasive construction cranes were the occasional building that had evidently seen better days. The crumbling facade of the following building was distinctive enough for me to reach for my camera and take a picture of it.

Crumbling Facade in Former East Berlin
Crumbling Facade in Former East Berlin

I had my meeting and afterwards made my way back to my hotel. The following was the final picture I took for the day, taken while walking over the bridge spanning the River Spee, looking to the dome of the Bode Museum with the Berlin TV tower in the distance.

Nighttime Scene on Spee River Bridge
Nighttime Scene on Spee River Bridge

A quick dinner afterwards, then to bed for my early-morning flight back to Frankfurt, then home.

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