Tag Archives: Berlin 1…2014

Berlin 1 – superficial observations…… September 2014

Berlin captured me. Its history, its honesty, its energy, its architecture – two weeks later I am still struggling to order the rich and resonant cacophony of images and thoughts, remnants of my few weeks there.

The next blogs will be an attempt at such order but first I want to list some of the superficial impressions – to clear the mental decks.

• This is a city being continuously reconstructed, not just through history but actually. Cranes abound.

A city under re-construction for at least 70 years.

A city under re-construction for at least 70 years.

• Because it is built on swampy soil, Berlin is a relatively low rise city and surprisingly green.

Here' a built in trampoline in one of the many open spaces.

Here is a built in trampoline in one of the many open spaces.

• It is a city of illusions, not just of historic ideas but actually. Inside the seemingly historic buildings everything old is new again. They kept the frames but updated the paintings inside.

From the outside theBundestag looks like its old self but Sir Norman Fosters internal design shows the view of the surprisingly modest Chamber from the glass dome.

From the front the Bundestag (the Parliament building) looks like its old self but Sir Norman Foster’s internal design shows the view of the surprisingly modest Chamber from the glass dome.

• Berliners are superficially abrupt but given a few days, have bright smiles. They remind you of your manners with a strong “Morgan”.

• Everybody seems to be eating large servings of great creamy cake yet few overweight people are around.

• Young berlin boys have the best range of carefully coiffured hair I have ever seen.

• Bike riders are well catered for and you had better look out if you stray into one of the many footpath bike paths.

• There is a stunning public transport system and after 2 weeks even I could change lines with some confidence. Conversely traffic is amazingly light given this is a city of 3.5 million people – but then again I am comparing it to the unacceptably heavy situation in Sydney

Light, airy, well organised the main rail station has much to be envious of.

Light, airy, well organised, the main rail station has much to be envious of.

• Accessibility is helped by the large number of people who speak English.

But sometimes Andie, Maja and Tom had to consult a map.

But sometimes Andie, Maja and Tom had to consult a map.

• While the streetscape is mostly post-war crisp, cigarette butts adorn the pavements.

• People drink beer in the streets and on the trains yet I never saw a drunk. Part of the response to the oppression of history has been to turn from the nanny state – bike helmets are not worn; there aren’t rules about alcohol in the streets, nor are there any CCTVs and it all seems to work.

Enjoying a beer on the train

Enjoying a beer on the train

• Neighbourhoods outside of Mitte (the centre) each have their own character although gentrification is closing in on much of the alternative areas.

Old squat, smart neighbourhood, it may not last long.

Old squat, smart neighbourhood, it may not last long.

• Exhortations in unlikely places – on foundations and footpaths, as well as street art street art, remind you that this is a city of culture.

The stone base for this blue pipe has one of many  quotes from the famous. The blue pipes are a fixture constantly draining the swampy land on which the buildings sit.

The stone base for this blue pipe has one of many quotes from the famous. The blue pipes are a fixture constantly draining the swampy land on which the buildings sit. The quote from the philosopher translates as “the limits of language are the limits of the world”

• Department stores have not taken over given the range and number of small boutiques although the for hall in the big KaDeWe is the best I have seen.

The chocolatier in was KaDeWe. He got a bit sue after I had been given my third free truffle.

The chocolatier in KaDeWe. He got a bit sus after I had collected my third free truffle.

• Under the city I see, I know there are other Berlins invisible to me – club central is one, high culture another and I suspect, history and European politics has left more than the usual number of distressed people.

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