Berlin! 27th-30th October 2011

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Due to there being a University and state holiday on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th, me and my room mates decided to spend the weekend in Berlin. We were incredibly lucky as not only did we find reasonably priced return tickets but we also had the opportunity to experience couch surfing for the first time, staying with Malte, a University student.

Upon arrival, laden with our backpacks, we started to explore Berlin. Our first stop was a walk around Tier Garten, a huge park that surrounds the road Juni Straße. Here we had many photo opportunities of the surrounding area.

In the centre of Tier Garten is also a very striking monument, the ‘Column of Victory’. It is located at the centre Große Stern, known as Siegessaule, although this was not the column’s originally placement, having being moved by the Nazi’s during their town planning in 1935. Erected in 1873 as a memorial to the Prussian wars against Denmark, Austria and France, the top of the column displays a statue of the Goddess of Victory, created by Friedrich Drake. To get to the monument in the centre of the road, there are four underground passageways which have interactive light displays that sense movement and light up accordingly!

From the ‘Column of victory’ we walked to ‘Bradenburg Gate’  which is the only remaining gate in Berlin still standing. Built by Gotthard Langhans in 1788-1791, Bradenburg Gate has stood for decades as a symbol of the divided Berlin due to it’s location along Berlin Wall. Unfortunately we only saw the wall at night so my photos are not the best but it was still an impressive monument to view lit up at night.

For the remainder of day one we travelled to our Couch surfing Host for the weekend and settled in for the night, in a place which I can happily say was very comfortable to stay in 🙂

The next day we started with breakfast at one of the Berlin university blocks in the cafeteria, where not only did we get a reasonably priced meal, but a spectacular view of Berlin for free! 

From there we went to visit ‘Kunstgewerbemuseum- Museum of applied Arts, Berlin’. This museum had a wide collection of crafts, product, furniture, glass and ceramic design which I was very excited about viewing as I was looking for  inspiration in my university work. Needless to say this work kindled my love of craftmenship and design, which recently I have felt out of touch with. I was increadily lucky to have found this museum as not only did I see some famous designers such as philippe starck but I also got to see a wide range of inspirational glassware and one of my favourite ceramicists- Lucie Rie- http://www.galeriebesson.co.uk/rie.html 

Please click my Flickr link to view work inside the Museum- http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieclaxton/6312348359/in/set-72157628052499748

Throughout this weekend in Berlin, I have felt considerable lucky as I have been in the right place and the right time. An example of this  was leaving a local supermarket on our way home… As we emerged we found ourselves next to a crowd that was surrounding some huskies! I believe the owner had brought them there to raise a bit of money but it was a great opportunity to stroke the dogs and get some photos. 

For the evening we all, including our host went to a Chase and Status concert at Astra and enjoyed a brilliant two hour set! Heres their website- http://www.chaseandstatus.co.uk/

For the final day in Berlin we started with a trip to ‘Alexander Platz’  a former market place, originally named in 1805 after Tsar Alexander visited William III. A significant feature of Alexander Platz is the Television tower, which stands at 370 metres high. The tower offers a observation platform at 203 metres a revolving restaurant at 207 metres and the globe at the top houses technically equipment for television and radio.

The hustle and bustle of Alexander Platz was really invigorating and had a square with beautiful views of a fountain and Berlin Cathedral.

Another lucky addition was we got to see a famous Berlin Busker Johnny Jukebox who is a fantastic singer and has done many successful covers. See links below.  http://www.facebook.com/Johnnyjukeboxberlin

After watching Johnny for a while we went to the National art Gallery and Berlin Cathedral ‘Berliner Dom’- Berliner Dom. The  Cathedral is Berlin’s main protestant church displaying classical Italian renaissance architecture. Built by Julius Raschdorff between 1893 and 1905, the cathedral was severely damaged in 1945, now restored, the Hohenzollern crypt houses the great  elector king Frederick I, King Frederick William II and prince Louise Ferdinand, alongside many other notable people. The national art gallery itself was quite interesting, offering a wide range of traditional artworks and sculptures, although unfortunately the work was not as inspirational to me as the previous gallery I had been too. This was because I found the work to only have a distant relation to what I study and practice. However I could still appreciate the skill of each piece displayed.

Before leaving the Am Lustgarten 1, we were taking some final photos, when we turned round to find over 100 zombies walking towards us! Of course they were fancy dress for Halloween and the large group turned out to be a flash-mob, who proceeded to dance to Michael Jackson’s thriller!


Courtesy of ‘cschaeferphoto’ on youtube

This video isn’t in the exact same flash-mob location as ours, which was situated outside Berlin Cathedral as the group travelled all over the central parts of Berlin that night. It made the evening particularly special as we felt considerably lucky to have been in the right place at the right time! After this performance we took the number 100 bus (as recommended by our host) to see any additional sites of Berlin, the journey was all right, although I recommend doing it during the day as although the sights were beautiful, it was hard to get our bearings. I also recommend that if you plan to walk around Berlin, that you stick to the main streets as me and my room mates discovered, the ‘night-life’ is not always desirable.

So that’s my brief but brilliant weekend in Berlin. I couldn’t have wished for a better weekend and I very much hope I got back and get to see the rest of what Berlin has to offer!

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