22 March 2010

The Real Berlin [Day Two]

With a bit of a headache, I dragged myself out of bed at about 9:30am Saturday morning. My first destination for the day was Tacheles, which a friend told me I HAD to visit.

To get there I wandered through suburbia for about 15 minutes. Some of the areas seemed like noone had touched them since the war. There were old buildings falling down, grafiti, everything seemed run down. But at the same time, the whole place seemed very safe, people were friendly, there were no dodgy characters lurking around. Walking further I found historic buildings in what seemed like completely random spots - the old post office building and the New Synagogue. And just down the road an area that was new and well developed - nice stores, clean streets etc. It was strange seeing such contrast in such a small area.

I soon arrived at Kunsthaus Tacheles, an massive old department store that has been taken over by artists and squatters. From the outside it looks abandoned, like its about to be knocked down. I walked through a large arch into an open space at the back of the building. The whole area was filled with sculpture, art and other completely random things. There was what looked like the cockpit of a plane, an old VW van, a fence made from piano parts, seats made from old car parts. The sculpture and street were amazing, the photos do not do it justice. Tacheles was, without doubt, the best place I visited in all of Berlin.

With no real plan for the afternoon, I decided to go for a bit of a wander. I found a cool open-air market with lots of artists selling their original works. I bought a piece showing part of the Berlin wall from this guy. From there I walked to the Topography of Terror, an outdoor museum located where the headquarters of the Nazi Gestapo and the SS once stood. I won't go into detail here, but it was very interesting, so if you have a spare couple of hours, do take a look.

I found a street vendor selling Currywurst, which I was told I had to try while in Berlin. Its basically a curry sausage covered in curry-powder and sauce. I didn't think I would like it, but it was actually pretty good.

Next I found Potsdamer Platz - an area of Berlin which has been completely redeveloped. This is just down from the historic Reichstag building and Brandenburg gate - again a huge contrast in a short space. It is home to the Sony Centre - a huge shopping mall with a massive open roof.

Then on to Tiergarten, an enourmous park in the centre of Berlin. Even though it was snowing at this point, I decided to stick it out and take a look. There are many statues and monuments throughout the park - two I found were the Soviet War Memorial and the Statue for Bismarck. At the centre of the park is a huge monument called the Victory Column - unfortunately covered by scaffolding, but still impressive.

Cold, tired and hungry, I made my way back to the Hostel. After a quick shower, Kieran and I grabbed some dinner at the restaurant next to the Hostel. One thing that I love about Berlin is the food. Every meal there was so good, and all quite cheap.

When you check into Wombats hostel they give you drink vouchers for WomBar - the hostel bar. We discovered later that this was a really smart marketing ploy; we went for a couple of drinks and ended up staying most of the night. We met up with Alex and Maytal, played pool drunk too much. Good times all 'round.

That brings me to the end of day two. I think I was liking the city even more. I found it gritty and edgy, not polished like so many other cities I have visited. I like to think I saw the 'real' Berlin. So much art, so many cool, friendly people...

Coming up, day 3, and the Riechstag Dome.

Next Post - 'The Riechstag Dome'


  1. Great article!, I love the photos you took!

  2. Awesome graffiti. You guys get to visit some interesting places.


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