Religion, history, The Gate, and to many bahns

Berlin Travel Blog

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Another bright and sunshiny day in Germany! I needed to get my blog completed from the day before so, I spent a little time working on it, before beginning my day. I planned to go to a museum, undecided which one, and just walk about town and enjoy. Explore a bit and see what I see.

 

So, I consulted my Berlin transit map and once thoroughly confused, I was ready to go. I stopped by the front desk and asked about the walking distance which would be through the park. This park is big, like Central Park big.

I was told 30 minutes or so. I decided to stick with my transit plan as I had spent more time in the room than planned. I made my way to the U-bahn and began my journey. I should have gotten of at …let’s just call it “G” station. I wasn’t paying enough attention and missed it. So, I looked at my map and made an alternate plan. I would require 3 changes instead of 2 but….whatever. When I got to my next “change” which was from a U to and S-bahn, it was confusing and the announcements were only in German. I got on going to Alexanderplatz and should have continued on so I could make my next change but, It did something unexpected….It went back to the previous station, that I was just at. So, I got off and caught the next one to Alexanderplatz. This time, I was concerned about what its plans were so, I just got off. It was at the Fernsehturm and I could walk through that area to get to the church that I wanted to see and make a decision about museums. All of this had taken almost an hour…..aarrrgghh!!!

 

In the station I get a yogurt and fruity oat bar…yum! I walk through the park infront of the tower and head to the first church to be photographed.

It’s the Marienkirche. The last time I had been here it was November and cold and bleak. Now, it was sunny and everything was green and blooming. What a difference. The park was partly covered with tents that I figured out were for Octoberfest. I will have to make it a must for tomorrow evening. The fountain in front of the church is bubbling with water and people are scurrying in front of to get pics. It’s a bit funny, there’s a baby held up at one spot in the sculpture that with the water spraying on him……just made me laugh. There’s a picture. Don’t think that I’m strange. I take my few shots and move on.

 

Next, I walk around the corner along a green area. There is a large gray stone building with tall dome constructed in neo-classical style. It’s imposing and impressive. In front of it is a row of old buildings. In one of them is a ….

.hemp museum. That would be interesting to anyone but people who live in Amsterdam.

 

I continue to walk around that corner and discover a beautiful little hidden pocket of quaint.  There is a church that I was aiming for that turns out is quite interesting. It is the Nikolaikirche, first built between 1220 and 1230. It is the oldest church in Berlin. It has several modifications due to war destruction. There are some details of the church that have skulls on them, creepy.  There are some guild houses across the street showcasing their skills on nicely made signs. I hope that a guildsman made them. I walk to the end of that block enjoying the architecture and details.

I made a turn into some work area between that street and the river.

 

With the river, I knew that I could make my way to the other church that I wanted to visit, the Berlinerdom. This one I wanted to enter as it was closed the last time I was here. Making it to the river I was really surprised with the view. The Church was looking as magnificent as a baroque church always does but, across the street where they had been working on demolition of buildings 2 years ago was now a HUGE grassy area. I mean huge. It was only grass and very evenly green. It looked like it could be artificial. It was impressive in size. People, obviously like it, there were many people out soaking up some rays on the large green carpet.

 

So I make my way across the street and am making my way to the entrance.

I was stopped by one of my other passions, cars. There was a new VW Scirocco in front. I had to take a picture or two. On to the main event, I walk up the stairs and study the details of the ceiling archway and frescoes of the main entrance. The detailing is heavy but sublime. I’m in heaven. I buy my ticket and am told that I can climb the 266 stairs to the cupola and have a 360 degree view of the city. That’s great…I’m really excited, now. I enter the main dome and am met with a mix of monotone main wall section but with extreme levels of detail. I am surprised at the lack of color here. The dome is colorful and the very center is a dove surrounded by yellow. This is a good move as yellow is the easiest visible color and the center of the dome is very high. The main altar is so extraordinary with its heavy detail and gilding. There is color here in the stained glass designs. They stand out against all that is monotone.

 

In one corner, there are a couple of coffins but, not like any I’ve ever seen before.

These have baroque details. That’s a first for me. There are amazing. Obviously someone of great importance rests here.

 

There is a little chapel off to one side that was open for viewing. The altar had a more contemporary painting than I would have expected but, it was a great work of art. The ceiling details and stained glass skylight center were difficult to photograph but, a few of the elements that make it special did come through.

 

From here I started climbing the stairs. First to an overlook area, I believe where the choir may sit. It had a tall, grand candelabra. Up some more stairs with pictures of post war and reconstruction of the church and we arrive at the museum.

It chronicles the history and showcases elements from different periods of the life of the church. It also has models of the different stages of the life of the church.

 

 At this point, I realize that I have a big problem. My battery is almost dead and I haven’t brought the other battery with me. I text Rob with my frustration. I know he is in meetings but I have to share my stress.

 

I start the climb to the top. I make it half way, to an area that has windows all around, where you can see the city from all sides of the church. For a few minutes I thought that this was it, a bit disappointing, actually.

Then someone went past me and opened a door and started walking up more stairs. Yes!!! I walked the very narrow steps the rest of the way…..that’s where most of the steps are, not in the lower section. Don’t be fooled.

 

I opened the door to the walkway and was met with an unobstructed view of Berlin, and on a sunny cloudless day. It is breathtaking and I am furious. I consider going back to the hotel right now but decide to come back to this walkway again, tomorrow. I hope the weather holds. The views from the walkway are just amazing. You can see the river and museum island. You can see the tower. You can see the many people sunning themselves in the new grassy area. You can see the New Jewish synagogue. What a view! If you visit Berlin, this is a must.

 

Ok, so I make my way down and am ready to move on. I have to some back here tomorrow so on to the museum, now. I decided to go to the Deutches Historishes Museum. It was also closed for renovation the last time we were here. I had less than 3 hours before closing. I thought that much time should be sufficient. I was so wrong. I was fooled by the first areas for the first time periods covered. The museum covers 2000 years of German history. That’s a lot to cover. As the timeline progresses and there is more to the history the area it takes up is increased. Also, they have made some parts interactive. You get to feel the weight of a replica chainmaille upper body protection. It was very heavy. The sign said 15 kilos (33 pounds).

Also in an area devoted to the development of the city in Germany. There are 4 painting showcasing city life in the 1500’s. Behind them is a computer with screen set up. You are able to view a 3-D walkthrough of each then close ups of many sections of each of the 4 paintings. This was great. There are a great variety of items showcased to present the history of each time period. If you are a World War II fan, this museum is a must. The whole ground floor is devoted to the period of the 20th century, post world war I. There is a tremendous amount of info and memorabilia. There are also viewing rooms for a couple of reels and films combined to show media coverage, as well. I was so engrossed in each section that my 3 hours went by and I was rushing at the end to make it through the 20th century. If you really want to enjoy this museum, you must dedicate much more time than my 3 hours. It is a great thing that they are presenting to you.
I will come back tomorrow and with my camera and a fully charged battery.

 

 I must make an observation and criticism. There is an obvious German perspective on World War I that I took issue with. I will not get into a long speech on a soapbox but, it’s just biased and incorrect in one aspect of the information. You go look and be the judge for yourself.

 

My feet are killing me by now and my stomach is growling. I leave the DHM and head down Under den Linden, heading towards The Brandenburg Gate. It was a nice walk down the center of the avenue. The only problem was that it was just after 6pm and the sun was at that perfect level to blind you and it was sitting just about the gate.

Upon approach, as usual, there was a protest. This time there were some people protesting involvement in Afghanistan. It was all in German but, I got some of the words and they were angry and included the word American. Oh well, can’t escape it.

 

I decided, seeing Starbucks, that they usually had some healthy stuff to eat, along with delectable deserts. It has a perfect spot with a commanding view of the gate, also. I had a nice sandwich (multigrain bread, cheese, tomato, and rucola) and a piece of carrot cake. I have tried to find good carrot cake in Europe….just not here. It took coming to Starbucks to find it. It was cream cheesy icing and moist cake with raisins, also. I was happy. I ate sitting at a bar with the Brandenburg Gate as my view, yes with my sunglasses on but, great view.

 

When I was finished I walked out to the square and found a bench to sit on and enjoy a bit of people watching and since the sun was below the buildings, a clearer view of the gate. It’s impressive. You can just smell history around it. It is a symbol of hope and knowing what it has witnessed, I’m glad that it was restored. I get a tingle walking through it, every time. I did that evening.

 

I decided to just walk back instead of the U-bahn. I walked through the park and the Tier Garden. The park is very much like a forest in the middle of Berlin.

It’s simple but, a nice refuge from “city”. It’s a large park and you can really feel removed from urban jungle. The garden is quite small but, beautifully landscaped with flowers arranged in flowing designs.

 

Now remembering what I was told about the walk time. I expected to walk 30 minutes or so. At almost an hour and reviewing my map a million times, I still wasn’t at the hotel. The streets are a bit tricky in one area not too far from the hotel but, I was never lost and it took me 1 hour 15 minutes. I was now stressed instead of relaxed as when I was in the park. Expectations……I would have altered my plans and taken a tram after the park but, I know now. Anyway, it was a great day, even with its challenges. I always have them. I just need to not create so many for myself.

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photo by: CFD