Wednesday, April 30, 2014

west berlin

From East Berlin, we moved for the last few weeks to a apartment in the trendy Friedrichshain neighborhood in West Berlin. Our first impression was that it is a more well-kept neighborhood with a lot more typical German-looking things about (at least compared to the Turkish part of town we had just come from). Out place was a nice loft overlooking a very overgrown but cute courtyard.

This was taken as we were packing--though it's not like we're much neater than this usually.
Our first day exploring the new neighborhood we came across an old cemetery. It was much like the parks, very overgrown but well kept, and beautiful. It was such a contrast to American cemeteries that are so mowed and trimmed and devoid of plant life. This cemetery was teeming with growth, making it fell like a very peaceful place to have your eternal rest.

We also found a park by us where you could ride elephants - not real ones, but cement once. There are so many parks in Berlin, and not just sanctioned parks--there are a lot of open spaces where something used to be, but it's now gone, so it's just overgrown and you can use it like a park. The Germans seem to not prohibit things as much as we do. In the US, there would be a barbed wire fence around a vacant piece of land, making sure no one trespasses, but in in Germany it's just a de-facto park.

More drinking in public

In our neighborhood was a very popular bar/restaurant street, so we headed down there to see and be seen and catch a bite. We had been craving American food and Mexican food and this street was known for being quite international, so we ended up eating a burger one day and nachos another. At this point we had brats, kraut and strudel coming out of our ears so we felt like it was okay to depart from the German classics.

The major road on the way to the restaurant street, and Alexander Platz in the distance.

After a few days in the new place, we thought it was time to head out and see some more of the Berlin sights. We jumped on the subway, beer in hand because in Germany, drinking on the subways is allowed - so why wouldn't you. On the way, we passed by a park we had heard about. It was an old Nazi airport that after the war got turned into a park. And it looked like just that, an abandoned airport with people flying kites and riding their bikes.

Got to love Germany.

The airport park.
As we walked from the subway to our first destination we walked past an intersting memorial that took up an entire city block. It was for all of the Jews who were killed during WWII and was quite somber (for obvious reason) but interesting. At first it looked like it was made on a hill but as we walked into it, we realized it was actually a depression and the stone pillars just got taller. So it actually became a kind of labyrinth that you could get lost in. It was a very intering place to walk around.

One of the major tourist attractions is an arch in central Berlin. I'm not sure what it commemorates, but it is used in a lot of signage around town to show it's Berlin oriented.

From there we walked through the giant park that occupies the center of Berlin. On our way we walked past a funny monument that shows the crazy history of the area. It is a Soviet Monument commemorating the Soviet troops who died taking Berlin away from the Germans at the end of WWII. In the 90's it was handed over to the Germans and for some reason, they haven't torn it down. It says a lot about the type of place Germany is today - tolerant.

After seeing a bunch of naked sunbathing Germans in the park (just like public drinking, public nudity isn't a big deal) we headed to a Biergarten the was at the edge of the park for a little thirst quenching.

That evening we had a traditional German meal on the banks of the river. It was a fantastic meal that was supposedly a Berlin specialty: cabbage stuffed with sausage.

You can tell how much Andrew liked it by the look on his face.
When not going out and about around the city, we did a lot of picnicking at the parks, it was just too nice out not to.

Opening some champagne on the street.

On the way to an afternoon picnic.


  1. Love all the parks. The cemetery reminds me of Hobbiton.

    1. Aren't they cool? We loved that it was all so overgrown--we both said that was the kind of cemetery we'd like to be buried in.