Rebuild It And They Will Come

By Jane Mountain | September 8, 2013

6447 km so far.

After all the late nights, which we are really not used to these days, it was pretty hard to get out of bed today. So we didn’t. Until late afternoon we hung out (hanged out?) in the flat, trying to catch up on work. I feel like we should be up to date on blogs by now, but the problem is, every day there’s another blog to post. We never get to be done!

Stephen did manage to step out for a short walk.

He went to the graveyard, as you do.

watering cans in a graveyard in berlin

Can’t we all just share one watering can? No!

He is really enjoying the defaced political posters in town. You have to have thick skin if you’re a German politician.

defaced political poster berlin

An aged Erststimme.

And a few other things that caught his eye.

pigeon pooping grafitti

Oops, poop.

Beers, Boats, And Autos

In the late afternoon, Jesse drove us down to Café am Neuen See for an authentic German Biergarten experience.

Jesse has just signed up for Drive Now, a car sharing service. Once you’re registered, you just go online any time you need a car, find their nearest car in your neighbourhood, hop in, and drive. When you get to your destination, you park the car on the street and leave it for the next person who needs one.

The only downside is that the cars are gas-powered. It would be great if Berlin had the infrastructure available so they could offer electric vehicles instead.

As the name suggests, the biergarten at Café am Neuen See is an outdoor drinking garden (a massive one, with room for about 300 people) next to a pretty little lake. It is in the middle of Tiergarten, which is a large park in the heart of Berlin.

The park used to be hunting ground for the nobility, but during the war it was almost entirely deforested to provide wood for heating. Now, it has been reforested, and the common people flock here on hot summer days. Sunday afternoon was a great time to sit with large glasses of beer and fresh pretzels, watching the world go by.

The chief activity, besides drinking, is taking row boats out onto the lake. Anyone can climb in and go for a row, so we got to witness many awkward styles of moving a boat across the lake. Fun.

Full Circle

We grabbed another car from just outside the café, and Jesse dropped us off at the cinema before heading to the opera. While Jesse was attending Nabucco, Dominic, Stephen, and I went to see Kick-Ass 2. Since starting this trip, normal-life things like going to the movies have become very exciting for us. Too bad tonight’s experience was a huge letdown.

Not only was the movie terrible, but the cinema didn’t even have fresh popcorn. They were pouring it out of giant plastic bags into a warmer. Very lame.

Stephen’s note: they did sell beer, which you could take into the theatre, so not all was lost.

The only good thing about our cinema experience was its location. The movie theatre is located in the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz.

Before World War 2, Potsdamer Platz was the bustling centre of commerce in the city, and may even have been the site of the first (or possibly second) set of traffic lights in Continental Europe. During World War 2, the buildings around Potsdamer were almost completely demolished, and in 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected through the middle of the square. When the wall started to come down, Potsdamer Platz was the site of one of the earliest crossing points.

Last time Stephen and I were in Berlin, the Sony Centre sight was a hole in the ground, a massive construction site.

Now it is a centre of commerce once again, with glass buildings towering above packed restaurants and shops. Once, the symbol of a divided world ran right through it, but now, people from all over the world convene here. Sure, it’s just to waste their money in overpriced and underwhelming restaurants, but at least they are free to do so if they want.  

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Diane

    Diane September 12, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Speaking of the Tiergarten a book well worth reading is “Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larsen set in Berlin in the 1930s.

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