A Tale of 2 Cities: Our First Taste of Berlin

Mike and I recently celebrated our one-year anniversary! Woohoo! 🙂 I vacillate between thinking, “woah! That was fast!” And, “how on Earth has it only been a year? I feel like I’ve known him forever! I can’t remember what it was like without him!” Just before our anniversary, we got our go-date for moving to Germany, so we had the beginnings of that plan, at least, for heading into our second year of marriage. Dangerous, indeed! I racked my brain – anniversary present… Germany… anniversary present… Mike… anniversary present… Germany… 1st anniversary=paper?!? Germany… You can see I wasn’t getting very far. I needed to be the best-wife-ever, though, so it had to be good. JACKPOT! The world was working with me (for a change), and a couple of Radiohead concerts had been rescheduled for the end of September – 3 weeks after our go-date! Radiohead in Berlin! HURRAH! I AM THE BEST WIFE EVER! (or at least the best wife Mike has ever had…)

Neither of us are great at planning adventures ahead. It’s a skill we are looking to improve on in the very near future, indeed. In general, though, we have interesting experiences in spite of our lack of planning. When we went to Paris last year, we showed up with really only a place to stay and our luggage. It was rather lovely, though, just to wander the streets and say, “What lovely thing in Paris would you like to see today?” (I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to wake up and say that?!?) In any case, my point is that we have a habit of seeing what happens when we don’t have a very concrete plan. We arrived in Germany with the only plan being that we would go to Berlin at the end of September (this is going to be divided into several posts; too much goodness at one time is just too much; also the photo uploader is being a grinch, and it isn’t showing all of my pictures! :-(). Did we have a hotel? No. Did we have plans about how to get to Berlin? No. We were definitely winging it.

Our 1st week here, we asked the relocation people about how they would get to Berlin. Definitely not drive, they say. What did we do? We drove. 5.5 hours, actually. Over the river(s) and through the woods ;(And across the mountains), to Radiohead we go (and Berlin). The drive really wasn’t bad, other than being 5.5 hours each way. We even saw a large group of skydivers on the way! Very cool…

Mike was happy! A place to sleep! 🙂

I found us a hotel about 3 days ahead of time. On all of the booking websites, I kept seeing a reminder: “Several events in the city this weekend. Hotels booking fast.” I smirked to myself, oh marketing… It is the same everywhere. Actually, not so much. The Berlin Marathon was in the city on Sunday! So exciting! I think it is the first marathon I’ve ever watched that I wasn’t running! Our hotel was in the much ballyhooed section of Berlin called Alexanderplatz. Taking its name from a Russian emperor (Alexander I), Alexanderplatz (Alex) was a major park of East Berlin’s life prior to reunification, and continues to be a pretty major hub. You aren’t going to mistake this area for Frankfurt, though. The two couldn’t be more different if they tried. Alex still has a very strong feel for it’s roots under Soviet leadership (architecturally).

Berlin’s TV Tower, Fernsehturm. Very dramatic!

Alex is also very well known for being the home of the Fehnsehturm (TV Tower), which I learned is the second tallest structure in Europe. Our lack of planning bit us in the rear on that: tickets were all sold out. 😦 So… no fear-inducing heights for Mike. Due to the marathon, the tours weren’t operating during the hours that we were available either, so we had to do what we do best (or at least most): explore on our own!

Alex was also hosting a mini-Oktoberfest! 🙂

“Ich bin ein Berliner”; nein, Er isst einen Berliner. I am a jelly donut? No! He eats a jelly donut! Interestingly, in doing a wee bit of research about this phrase, I found unanimous agreement that JFK nailed it, no screw ups. Please also note: A second photograph with a person in it! 🙂
Why just have a building when you can add a mural to it?

Die Bär; appearing on the coat of arms for Berlin, folk etymology traces the name “Berlin” back to the word “bär”. Here, the bear is also used to lay out the S & U Bahn maps! Super!
The Prussian House of Lords, up close and personal. This building is the seat of the Bundesrat, a legislative body representing the 16 states of Germany “Länder.” Along with the Bundesrat (delegates of state government), the Bundestag (directly elected officials) comprise the legislative wing of the government.

runners in the BMW Berlin Marathon; this was fairly early on in the race, near Alex, and everyone was still feeling good!

Moi, at the largest external section of the Berlin wall that still exists. The wall ran along Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. Although the buildings that housed entities like the Gestapo were destroyed, there was a sense of evil that lingered on.

“I can’t nearly as much as I’d like to throw up.” ~ Max Lieberman; I could relate to that feeling as I walked through the Topographie des Terrors. About 1/3 of the way through, it became an overwhelming, almost palpable sense of something more sinister than I’ve ever known.

Berlin is home to the “currywurst,” a very popular dish that has been described to me (by an American) as a bratwurst in a ketchup sauce. I imagine that it is somewhat better than that, but…

The Brandenburg Gate overlooks the crowd gathered at the Marathon finish. It was a very exciting place to be! The Brandenberger Tur was commissioned and erected in the 1700s to represent peace. It’s seen a lot of war before it saw peace again…

Siegessäule, or the Berlin Victory Column (or as the Berliner’s call it, “Goldelse,” something along the lines of “Golden Lizzie.”

Marathon runners along Potsdamer Platz. This area of Berlin has been completely rebuilt since the fall of the wall. Isn’t that incredible?

We left with a resolve to come back. With better planning. This city is absolutely incredible, and deserves more than around 24 hours… So, a-planning we shall go!

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7 thoughts on “A Tale of 2 Cities: Our First Taste of Berlin

    • 🙂 I actually saw a poster for her show not long ago. Now I can’t remember if I saw it in Frankfurt or Berlin (although I think it was Berlin)… but, in any case, I told Mike that you would be going to that show if you were here! 🙂

  1. So many comments on your post. First, I had to laugh about you being the best wife Mike has ever had. I tell Michael all the time that he’s the best husband I’ve ever had. Congrats on your first year!

    That TV tower actually has an interesting side-note. It was built by East Germany, partly to spy on West Germany, partly to show off the superior power of the Communist state, which does not approve of practising religion. At certain times of the day, the angle of the sun hitting the ball at the top forms a cross reflection on the ball. The West Germans thought it was a pretty good joke on the East.

    I totally agree with you about the lingering sense of evil at that part of the wall. It was really weird.

    Berlin is very special to me because I was there a year before the wall fell. When I went back a couple of years ago, it was really interesting to see all the changes. I have before and after photos of many of the same places. The best one by far is of a section of crosses near the Brandenburg Gate memorializing people who died trying to cross the wall. I have pics of those same crosses actually on the wall.

    If you get a chance, go to Leipzig. They have a great museum of modern German history there.

    • That is REALLY cool about the TV Tower! I did not know that! That kind of thing is part of why I want to go back, because I just know that there are so many little stories that I missed! That would have been a pretty awesome joke on the East…

      I would love to see your pictures! That city has to be one of the most changed of all time. Even just in Potsdamer Platz, they have rebuilt the whole area in the last 20 years. Absolutely incredible to me.

      I actually tried to get Mike to leave a day early so that we could drive to Leipzig and see it, and then head to Berlin on Saturday. I will make sure we do that on our next adventure in that direction.

      You are such a wealth of information! Thanks a ton for adding your German wisdom! 🙂 And I’m serious about those pictures. One of the effects of our Berlin trip is that I have a newfound keen interest in German history, and the before and after pictures sound incredibly fascinating…

  2. I love the photo of the Fehnsehturm! Great sky as a contrast in the background.

    The jelly donut looks yummy!

    And I love that there are photos of you two throughout. ❤ Now we just need a photo of you two together!

    • Thanks! I even took that picture on my phone (not usually a source of the best photos, but it is good for photos in the moment)…

      The jelly donut was, I have to say, the best jelly donut I’ve ever had (but i’m not usually a fan of donuts with stuff in the middle in general, and I’m not the world’s biggest donut fan, either, but I do like them, but not as much as some people (and by some people, I am specifically referring to Mike). I even had a leftover donut the next day that was better than most I’ve ever had!

      I actually do have 1 picture of the 2 of us… I haven’t looked at it yet to see if it is publishable, but I took one of both of us at the concert… Stay tuned!! 🙂

  3. Looks like you had a great adventure on your own! The last picture is reminicent of part of the Buckhead landscape. (I’m sure Mike will post real soon!)

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