Berlin re-visited: the e.n.d.

Hey folks, as you can see Berlin has so many options for visitors so that it's really hard to decide on what to do. Though you don't even have to enter a museum for various impressions, there is one museum I would warmly recommend you, if you are interested in the history of games and especially computer games: Das Computer Museum (What a surprise! ;))

The location is not that big, but there's  a pleasant amount of hands-on stuff like this fitness device for overweight people. Of course, the game is only functionable if you use physical power...  Well, who would have thought this concept would fail? *sarcasm*

You can meet a few old friends here, too, and see how they changed in the course of time.

And -wait a minute- there was a time where you weren't able to just download a game via wi-fi or so onto your cell phone or play online?

WHY on earth would I want to play a game called "water-mains burst" (Wasserrohrbruch)?

And this is pre-historic. Horrible graphics don't even exist here and I would have to think as if I were playing chess!
(Unbelievably striking, the German "Democratic" Republic (DDR) wanted their kids to learn "the important basics of computer engineering"!)

Aw, it gets even worse: this is like playing a board game! *shocked cry*

Well, after or before such puzzling input one can simply stroll through the streets thinking about a good souvenir to purchase when suddently weird or funny things happen...

Lets start with the nice encouters:
You can find all sorts of colourful bears in different poses, which are sisters and brothers of the city's logo and owned by hotels or companies (I call it the Teddyparade though they are scattered all over the place). Unfortunately, the one belonging to our Best Western is hidden behind a building-site fence, but this one here even tells you where you are.

You can eat at food stalls with funny names.

You can discover very fancy shopping malls...

with pieces of art (I think there are special guided tours you can book...)

...and fantastic shops for families (toys, etc.).

OR you have a look into the impressive lobbies of  famous hotels where many important people from the past and today stayed while visiting, like the Adlon and the Westin Grand hotel (photo).

In contrast to this, Berlin, like every big city, has less appealing and even dirty parts and the huge pigeon population, for example, doesn't help to keep the buildings, monuments and bridges clean either. Furthermore, you meet all types of crazy and plain weird people or sometimes items they've left behind...
This is a dirty panty laying infront of a shop which sells stamps to collectors and this scenery matches the suggestive German pick-up line: "May I show you my stamp collection?" -ew D:

Well, I guess this could have happened almost everywhere and if you aren't an European tourist there are obviously many other peculiarities which require a specific level of open-mindedness, for example, naked statues with lifelike genitals and lascivious ads in public. So, what I want to say is that if you really want to extend your perspective, make new experiences and see something different Berlin is definitely the place to go to, because the nice stuff predominates -just believe me :)

Bye-bye, goddess Victoria (Siegessäule)!

(P.S.: Black Eyed Peas music album "the e.n.d." -the energy never dies)


Berlin-revisited: Palace Sans Souci and Gardens and the Reichstag (parliament building)

Maybe you haven't been convinced yet to risk a trip to Germany's capital, though Berlin isn't only for people who want to experience this vibrant city. Despite my hay fever we jumped onto a subway, rode 20 minutes out of town heading south and *bang* arrived in Potsdam, where we rented bikes (nextbike.de). It's just a 5 minute bicycle tour to the huge royal gardens and palaises of San Souci!

Neuer Palast 

Normannischer Turm

I guess you have noticed by now that this former royal property is a very big area, so I highly recommend to go by bike and not just per pedes (by foot), if you're no fit hiker. (Several spread public toilets and one restaurant are provided)

And don't forget to order the local speciality Berliner Weisse (beer brand) mit Waldmeister oder Himbeersirup (with sweet woodruff or raspberry sirup).

Of course the quite new and walk-on-able cupola or dome of the Reichstag is a very well worth seeing sight, though it needs a bit planning. The access is only provided if you register for a visit (at least 3days ahead, online) and there are security checks like the ones at airports, but you get a beautiful 360° view apon the city and much information via self-guided audio tour if you like (Other guided tours can be booked in addition).

The Reichstag is only a few foot steps away from this famous archway: das Brandenburger Tor.
And believe it or not: It was even famous before Barack Obahma (finally) visited us in June 2013 ;)

If you're hungry simply eat at this food stall directly located between these two sights and order: WURST (sausage)!

NEXT Posting: Popular culture and funny occurences (spotting bears, computer museum, fund items)


Berlin: revisited -2-

One of the modern sights to see is the SONY Centre which was built at the beginning of the millenium, with its astonishing roof construction.View from the atrium (interal courtyard):

The location is quite similar to a mall with its own movie theater/ cinema.

And the view from a neighbouring building which attracts tourist with its beautiful panoramic view apon some sights:

Zooming in one can see das Haus der Kulturen (House of cultures) on 1 o'clock. It's also called 'pregnant oyster' for its outer appereance :)
All that green around it belongs to the Tiergarten, which only partly is a zoo. The rest is a conventional park.

The next sight did not even exist when we first visited Berlin: das Holocaust Mahnmal (the Holocaust Memorial).
Build in 2005, it consists of 2700 concrete stele which vary in their hights and lenghts and form some kind of grid. You can walk through but guards prefent youngsters (visiting school classes, for example) from climbing on top of these...

Not so far from this sight one can get an impression of Die Mauer (the great Berlin wall) which divided the city and the whole country for almost 30 years!

It was not that thick but by its height (3 meters plus barbed wire) it was a very impressive barrier and GDR (German Democratic(!) Republic) sentinels had the order to shoot people who wanted to flee to West Germany.

On our way to the next subway station we past the Trabi Museum. Unfortunately, it had already been closed for that Sunday afternoon. It was the standard car in the GDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) and some people had to wait over ten years until their car was delivered (communism).

Heading back to the hotel, we bought some greeting cards to send home and entered the subway next to Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known legal crossing point between the GDR (Soviet Union) and West Germany (Western Allies). As you can see there's still some spectacle for the tourists. I bet the Mauermuseum directly beside it, has something to do with it :)

Next posting: Schloss Sans Souci by bike and the parliament building (Reichstag)


Berlin: revisited

Berlin is not only the 'new' capital of Germany, it's also our international Hollywood. Famous actors and musicians visit or work regularly in Berlin. I recently read that our well-known director Wim Wenders has shot an ice-cream commercial with Liv Taylor (The Lord Of The Ring) here! Though the city has much more to offer than the possibility of meeting music or movie idols. That's why I was so excited to go there for three days after not visiting for 8 years, and this trip started really different than the last one aswell.

Back then we had travelled the 600 Km by car, which of course took about 7 hours, making only 1-2 short breaks. We must have been lucky with no traffic jams caused by road works on the Autobahn (highway), too. However, this time we went by the fastest train we have, the ICE, which depending on the track section reaches up to a speed of 300 km/h(our). Okay, our internet connection wasn't the best but I think that it's generally a more relaxing way to travel longer distances. You don't have to concentrate on traffic, you can just lean back to read or to take a nap and the direct ICE connection took us there in only 4 hours! Despite of that, you don't need a car in the city, just take a taxi ride, go by bus or use the subway (U-Bahn).

We walked approximately 200 meters from the station to our residence, a Best Western Hotel near the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), which is a maintainable distance in my opinion, and if you want to see all the monuments, museums and parks your going to be on your feet the whole day anyway. :)

NEXT posting: On our way through the city: architectur, monuments and curiosities like fancy Trabbis (standard car of the DDR, Deutsch Demokratische Republik, 1949 until 1990)


FLORIDA - See you later, Alligator! (The Everglades)

Okay, so what have we learned so far? -The state Florida has got lovely beaches some with a Caribbean flair and others with a Springbreak atmosphere and we have been introduced to a few very special animals (manatee) and unique vegitation (mangroves).
Today's posting deals with an interesting ecosystem and one of its most dangerous creatures. Most of you will know them from horrormovies: the Everglades and the American Alligator. The first are two huge national park-like areas called Wildlife Management Area and Water Conservation Area. If you zoom in on these parts in the lowest/last third of the state you can get an impression of the brown-green marbled landscape. To explore the territory beside the scattered roads one needs some kind of boat and as a tourist going on an airboat tour seems to be a good idea, so we did it.

In the company's office and shop which offers such tours, we see this funny mosquito scale. Luckily today's expected collective attack by these blood sucking insects is rather low. Though one can buy anti-mosquito-spray here and apply before entering the wilderness, if advisable (>4).

Being placed in these airboates and equiped with hearing protection a driver who knows the area as good as his own vest pocket, maneuvers us safely through the water labyrinth. His slides over muddy parts of the shallow water entertains quite well, when the alligators hid themselves. We only see one small sized reptile in some distance, escaping from us. But if you think about it, it's very plausible, because the ear-deafening engine of the airboat is just too loud...

On our way back home we don't take the highway and detect a large amount of alligators along the roads with irrigation channels for the fields next to them. It's dry season and the water level here is higher than in the open Everglades.

So, if you really want to make sure to see some alligators you can also visit this miniature golf court near Fort Myers which attracks with its own baby allgators in cat size.

Though the complex and visionary composition of the court was breath-taking enough for us as foreign tourists. None of us had seen such a splendid miniture golf court before.

Well, as you know every journey comes to an end one day and so there's nothing left to say but:
"See you later Alligator!" - "In a while, Crocodile!" ;)
(of the Florida Tour 2011)