Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Berlin: In Three Days - Day 1

Day One

I had been to Berlin before when I was a wee little'un, but it doesn't quite have the same impact visiting it with friends as a young adult. For one I didn't need to hold someone's hand crossing the road (well, not always!)

It inadvertently became the day of trailing art. And it wasn't a bad start to get a better sense of the city. So the first stop was to Berlin's art district at Oranienburger Tor (line U6), which consisted of a dilapidated warehouse, with graffiti resembling a modern-day Sistine Chapel. It was literally caked in paint, beautifully formed into a master craft. But sadly, I'm not sure if it's still in existence, as last I heard, they were pulling it down.

At first glance, it's rather difficult to establish what the building was. Was it a building with Banksy replicas or were there actual artists at work here? As we made our way to the top of the tower, it became apparent that there skilled masters crafting a new piece, and showcasing their paintings and photography. Apparently, it is the skeletal ruin of a 1907 department store that has been occupied since 1990 by a collective of artists from all over the world.

There were two in particular that stood out. One was surrealism galore, as if Primus had been poured into the paint. The other had photographs of an aged woman, her innocence and sweetness peered from behind her eyes. It would be a shame if it no longer existed, but it being entirely run by donations, it's hardly likely to stay open.

Then a walkabout was in order. Down Oranienburger Street, a strange museum appeared next to the beautiful new Jewish synagogue. It must have been the C/O Photography exhibition, with an apt Soviet Union car sticking halfway out the building. Entrance was a 'student'-pricey ₤10, so I gave it miss that day.

Walk far enough down the road, and you will hit Hackeschen Höfe, a series of inner courtyards located in the district of Spandauer Vorstadt, in Mitte. They were built in 1904 as a sequence of buildings to be connected by inner courtyards that are not only areas of housing but also shops and workshops.

In these courtyards, you can find the “Chamäleon” theatre as well as the cinema Hackeschen Höfe Kino, not to mention a clothes, food and craft market open on Thursdays and Saturdays.

From there, turn right onto An der Spandauer Brücke and right again onto Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Straße (street), which will lead you towards the TV Tower (the tallest building in the country and an iconic image of Berlin). At the TV Tower, you can get a panoramic view of Berlin for 12 euros, remembering to book in advance to avoid the queues!

The Neptune Fountain (The neo-baroque fountain, decorated with bronze statues Zeus, was created between 1886 and 1891 by Reinhold Begas) and the Rotes Rathaus (Red Town Hall) are also down Spandauer Straße. This is also the place you can catch a hop on hop off city tour bus.

Next thing you know, you're at Alexanderplatz eating a burger on the steps.

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