22.12.11

Überlin

"...I know, I know that this is changing
we walk the streets to feel the ground
I'm chasing through Berlin
..." 

(fragment of Uberlin - R.E.M.)

Oh, such a pity that R.E.M. are not together anymore!
Anyhow, this song was playing loud in my head in our last year's trip to Berlin, and also in the radio (I'm not completely nuts).
Brandenburg gate
Berlin had always been one of the places I wanted to see,  so when the opportunity came I was good to go.
After 20 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, you almost can't imagine that this city was once divided and that both sides were so different. Still, when we found the brick line that marks the places where the wall once stood, and we crossed this line, we couldn't help to feel a bit overwhelmed by the historical meaning; I mean, we were able to do what just 20 years back was forbidden, to go from East to West Berlin.

There are still remnants of the Wall standing in a few places around town (near Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and Freedom Park), and sadly, next to them you will find the worst of sourvenirs: people dressed in 'communist' uniforms who put a stamp on your passport for money, or people in soviet uniforms at the Checkpoint Charlie who pose for your photos (it is almost as sad as the chubby gladiators in front of the Colisseum in Rome).
remnant of the Wall
 One of the most touching monuments I've ever seen is in Berlin, not far from the Reichstag and it's famous Norman-Foster-designed Dome, the Holocaust Memorial, which is "a tribute to the murdered Jews of Europe", consisting of 2.711 blocks of concrete of different heights; the feeling when you walk around them is of a deep sadness, but it's such a beautiful modern monument.

Another impressive monument are the remains of the Gedächniskirche, in Kurfürstendamm (Ku'damm for locals), damaged by the bombings in World War II.
Gedächniskirche
 The area near Alexanderplatz ("Alex" as locals call it - you can't miss it, it's where the TV tower is) and Hackescher Markt, which were part of East Berlin and had a very socialist look in their buildings, is now the hip area for shops and nightclubs.
If you want to stay in this area, the Radisson Blu is the place to stay, It's not far from Alexanderplatz, right by the river. It has a huge acquarium in the center so when you wake up this is your view:



pork knuckle

For a beer and a bite, Brauhaus Lempke in Hackescher Markt is the place. It's a brewery located under the railway, it gets crowded but it's all part of the atmosphere, if you're hungry, the Berlin style pork knuckle is a must.




And if you want a quick bite while you explore the area, there are:
- All in One Kebab (Rosenthalerstrasse 43-45, just off Hachescher Markt) - they say kebab is actually Berlin's typical food, I must say this one is delicious!
- Dolores Mitte - if you feel like a quick burrito, visit Dolores, near Alex, they also have delicious aguas frescas and hearty soups.



For shopping, Münzstrasse in Mitte is the street to visit, a lot of fun and hip shops; otherwise, for larger budgets: KaDeWe in Ku'damm is the spot, it's gourmet section is a foodies paradise!