I got a facebook message from Robert, my Californian, auxiliar friend who I met in Segovia. when I last talked to his wife Lindsey, it sounded like our Euro travels werent going to cross paths but we ended up making plans to grab some food and drinks in Brlin later this evening.
Our next order of business was getting our transportation to Amsterdam situated. it is impossible to reserve a bus from Berlin to the Netherlands online so we had to brave the on and off rain, me in swim shorts and sandals since all my otherclothes were in the washing machine, my attire sounds pretty ideal for summer but dropping temperatures made it less than miserable but certainly not pleasant. I can say that I have used a travel agency now; it was the only place we could book the tickets besides the bus staton which is about an hour away.
The rain seemed to be letting up so we made a plan of attack and went out to see some landmarks. The Brendenburg Gate is an icon for Berlin but not really that impressive, just some tan, stone columns supporting a classical looking structure. It was cool however to learn that Napoleon even rolled in, passing through the gate.
More impressive and in the same plaza was a sculpture we found while looking for an ATM. inside a bank next to the American Embassy there is an enormous steel plate, wood and glas curviform sculpture. there was a guide explaining it to a handfull of turist. after admiring it i found an info sheet; it’s by Frank Gehry. I should have known, its the same style as the Gugenheim in Bilbao that I visited in December and everal others I know of.
From there we walked over to check out uniquely remodeled classical parliment building. when they decided to change out some things they added a huge glass dome which is fitted with a spiraling walkway so citizens can look in from above on the German officials in a literal application of the term, “government transparency”. Unfortunately due to the terror threats you have to make prearrangements to get in.
Looking down the street we could see a huge column raising a golden statue of an angel into the sky. Although the German school of art and architecture, famous for the 1920’s industrial revolution inspired designs, is not in Berlin they do have the Bauhaus Archives, which are not far from that huge column.
The Archives were much further than anticipated and the Archives closed so we headed to our next stop; Checkpoint Charlie. which was one of three checkpoints where people could pass from East to West Germany before the Berlin Wall was taken down.
We left checkpoint Charlie and arrived at Warschaur Plats metro station just on time to meet Lindsey and Robert. we didn’t know exactly where to meet them but eventually found them frank noticed the polish mermaid on the wall of the metro station; not sure what to make of that but it was a great reminder of the last few days.
The four of us walked to the East Side Gallery where there is a 1.5 km outdoor art gallery, huge murals painted on the longest stretch of Berlin wall that still remains In place. there were two walls with a space between, known as no mans land.
From the Wall we went to Friedrichshain, a cool rough n the edges are for diner. then walked to check out a property that is an abandoned train depot turned skatepark, rock climbing gym, bar area, and general canvas for anyone wanting to graffiti. there are now owners who are trying to convert it into something positive and what i see is working. Robert and Lindsey took us to a bar that just opened a week ago, Urban Spree, where inside we met a kid from Arizona who was working on a mural of two guys bike jousting.
After a while we figured we better head home before we get stuck and the metro stops running. just when we decide to leave it starts to pour, sideways rain and everything. I had my camera and laptop in my bag, inside of a dry bag, in which I had little confidence. my waterproof jacket did great but my shoes and pants were soaked from the 5 minute walk to the metro station which was filled with soggy people shaking off water like dogs.