Monday, May 24, 2010

Ich bin ein Berliner. . .

Does anybody still read this blog!? I dunno anymore, but maybe if I actually posted regularly y'all would. . .

Anyways, I went to Berlin back in March for a Fulbright conference and here's what I did in this, the biggest and perhaps coolest city in Germany:

First stop was the Reichstag, the German parliament building. We had a tour of the inside, but I forgot my camera! But a friend was nice enough to take my picture in front of the chamber:
And this is Berlin's impressive church:
Here is a view of Berlin's famous TV tower, built during the Soviet time and a landmark of East Berlin. The big building to the left? That was my hotel. Fulbright paid for the room. Whoopeee!
East Germany was famous for making the Trabant, or Trabi ('tra bee) cars, which were the chariot of the masses there during Soviet times, although they were poorly built pieces of junk. Still, the cars have a cult following here in Germany. Apparently you can also rent one by the hour and drive it around Berlin. The only question is, will it run long enough to get you back? I love the rhyming "Trabi Safari!"
The following pictures are from Berlin's famous Pergamon Museum, which lies on the "Museum Island" smack in the middle of Berlin. As you can see, the Germans basically re-created whole cities inside the museum, using original pieces stolen from places like Greece, Italy, and the Middle East.



I just couldn't resist taking a picture of this naughty artifact...
This nice looking building is Berlin's city building:
And perhaps Berlin's most famous symbol, the Brandenburg Gate:
Berlin is also famous for its Soviet-Era crosswalk lamps. You can find all sorts of souvenirs of these little guys all over Berlin:

This is the Holocaust Memorial, quite possibly my favorite memorial ever. I love the fact that you can walk through it, and it is so elegant and poignant in its simplicity:


Walking around Berlin one day, I chanced upon Renate K√ľnast, who was the Minister of Consumer Protection, Food, and Agriculture from 2001 to 2005, when the Greens were in the government. She is now a co-leader of the Green block in the German Parliament.
Here is an inside view of Berlin's New Museum, which just opened in the Fall. It houses the famous bust of Nefertiti, but you aren't allowed to take pictures of it. It also boasts a really extensive Egyptian collection.

The New Museum also has a good view of the TV tower:
Check out this crazy building!
At the top of my must-see list was Sans Souci, the retreat of Frederick the Great, Emperor of Prussia in the mid to late 1700s. Sans Souci is French for "without care." It is here that Frederick would come to relax and escape. The French philosopher Voltaire was a frequent visitor and even had his own room. The palace and its large, accompanying grounds are located in Potsdam, outside of Berlin proper. This impressive first picture is the building where the SERVANTS lived. Damn!
And here is the palace proper. Since it was just a retreat, it is rather small and unimpressive. But the surrounding grounds are gorgeous, as is the inside.


This is the so-called "New Palace," built to host many guests and to hold official functions. Ironically, it is much more impressive than Frederick's residence.
When you take a tour inside the palace, you have to wear these big, silly slippers over your shoes so you don't damage the floor:
You're not supposed to take pictures inside, but I sneaked a few anyways:

Whew-ee, that was big post, but Berlin is a big city! I've only got about a month left in Germany, but there are many other adventures I can relate on my blog, such as my trip to Weimar, the cultural center of Germany, and some hiking trips. I'll try to post again in the next couple weeks. Auf Wiedersehen!