Calgary Travel Blog› entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
Okay, so I wasn't that great at keeping up with my Berlin journal. It seemed there were a million and one things I wanted to do (including art) and by the time I would get to my Travbuddy ...it's be in the wee hours of the day and I'd need my sleep.
I just got home yestreday evening. A very long day...
I feel a bit strange like something is off. Obviously... it's jetlag, right? It's always something strange coming home. For a day or so after I often catch myself thinking of things like " Just yesterday I was.." or "this time last Monday I was..." It's really hard to believe-- that you could be in one place and suddenly somewhere very different the next moment.
Maybe not the best time to travel to Germany - in the dead of winter. It gets very cold and the days are short. Being from Canada, I'm used to winter so on the one hand traveling anywhere in the winter is not a big deal. Sightseeing is a whole other thing, however. Let's just say, I'm quite acquainted with U-bahn and the S-bahn.
Side** I LOVE Berlin's transporation system. It has to be one of the best I've experienced in my travel experience based on it's ease of use. As a tourist, you can buy Berlin City Welcome passes for 48hrs, 72 hrs, and 5 days. This allowes you unlimited travel on all underground, overground and busses. The system is self-serve and based on an honor system. There are no ticket turnstiles to go through. You purchase your ticket from a machine, validate and go. I spent 9 days there and only once did I ever see security come on and make sure everyone had a ticket. ONE TIME! And that wasn't even in Berlin-- it was in Potsdam. I love that I didn't have to pull out my ticket everytime I wanted to enter/leave the station. It just makes things so much easier.
There wasn't a lot of snow, but the average temperature was -10 C. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are only so many layers one can wear.
When the weather is cold, it's time to head indoors -- so that means museums, art galleries, cafes, and shopping.
There is no shortage of museums and galleries in Berlin. I could have spend a month in Berlin and not exhausted them all. At some point, though, you get museumed-out. As a lover of contemporary art, my favourite's in Berlin were the Hauptbahnhof, the Neue Nationalgalerie, Bröhan-Museum and Collection Scharf-Gerstenberg "Surreal Worlds." Oh and let's not forget the world's largest outdoor art gallery - The East Side Art Gallery. A section of the Berlin Wall has been maintained and in 1990 (if I remember correctly) a group of artsits from around the world were invited to create a mural. It's a really great thing to see -- although -- perhaps not as enjoyable in the dead of winter!! Also, there was a temporary exhibit, called Found In Translation, at the Deutsche Guggenheim which was great.
Art galleries are great when you need a break from the bustle of city life. They're quiet, spacious, and you can take as little or as much time as you like. They often have great cafe's and equally great art book stores. For me, looking at art is a great way of connecting and communicating -- my thoughts, my feelings -- with other people around the world and of different eras. Although history and events have changed the world and continue to re-shape it, human nature stays relatively the same. We all face the the same life difficulties and triumphs despite our geographical distance and cultural differences. I suppose that's why I love modern art.
In Berlin, there is no shortage of cafes and bars to find refuge in from the cold weather. Cafes are great and inexpensive, spots for relaxing, reading, drawing, writing or whatever you want. They're great places to rest your weary feet, warm up with a nice cup of a coffee and plan your next move. I love a good cafe for people watching too!
I didn't do a lot of shopping in Berlin, however I did do a lot of window shopping. Most of the stores I went into were franchise type stores. I did find this bookstore however that I spent a considerable amount of time in. It's called Hugendubel. It's a chain and there are several in Berlin but they are all slightly different from another. The best store was on Tauentzienstraße. It was 4 or 5 floors. With the exception of a small English section, the books were in German. However, they had large sections on art. The best shopping experience I had in Berlin was in this very store because for some reason they had all of their Moleskin notebooks on sale!!! People were grabbing them up like crazy. I bought a couple of the little cityguide notebooks that are normally 16 euros for 4 euros. All the big sketchbooks, watercolour books...everything was included and were on sale as well. It was amazing. This store also has a great little cafe where you can ponder over your basket of potential purchases. They also have workstations. I've never seen anything like that outside of a library. So even though 90% of the books are in German, I am sure there are tonnes of things you will want to buy there. It's a great store to lose an afternoon.
While I was in Berlin, I bought a Diana F+ camera and some 35mm film. I'm looking forward to getting these photos developed. It's a bit of a tease, now in the age of digital cameras, to no be able to see the results of your snapping right away. Perhaps it's a lesson in delayed gratification in a world of instant gratification. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what comes of it..
I think I'll stop here...and maybe write more later. :)