I arrived in Berlin on May 31, Wednesday, just before the Ascension Day weekend. Less than one week in Europe and I had already blundered into a holiday I'd never heard of. This wasn't to be the last time. Anyhow, because of the holiday most of the cheap places in Berlin were booked. Fortunately the owner of Pension Alexander had an apartment that I was able to rent for 95 Deutschmarks a night. By Berlin standards this was a great deal; I had a full bath and kitchen near the southern extreme of the Berlin metro for the price of a pension room with a shared hall bath.
The only problem with the location was that I had to keep track of the metro schedule and not get stuck in central Berlin after the metro stopped running. Berlin is a very spread out city and taxi's are expensive, so you need to use the metro. Fortunately I never stayed so late in central Berlin that I missed the last metro and had to walk to the periphery. On one occasion I did engage in exhausting cultural activities until late into the evening and then slept through my stop on the last metro out. I had to wander on foot without a map for about an hour until I found my apartment. That's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.
The first pictures are general sight seeing stuff; Brandenburg Gate, designed in the late eighteenth century, and formerly on the boundary between east and west Berlin. The Altes Museum in Museum Island and some war damaged columns in the museum area.
My favorite museum was the Pergamon, an archaeological museum named for the impressive reconstruction of the Temple of Zeus excavated from the hill in Bergama Turkey where Pergamon once stood.
Compare the models to what remains of the city in Bergama (I visited there several months later).
Also at the Pergamon Museum they have reconstructed the City Gate and a mosaic floor from ancient Miletos
Which can be compared to present Miletos.
There was also a large collection of funeral reliefs and statues
I thought these were impressive at the time, but, as the persistent reader/viewer will see, I saw much better later in my travels.
Pergamon also had reconstructed gates and walls for sixth century BC Babylon,
and a somewhat speculative reconstruction of the city and "Tower of Babel", the city's temple.
I don't have pictures of the remains of Babylon, which is in Iraq. I didn't go to Iraq.
Continuing with the museums, the Humbolt University Museum of Natural History has some cool dinosaurs and a really big armadillo
and the Egyptian Museum has the famous Nefertiti Bust from 1340 B.C. Also, among many other antiquities, there is an eerie statue of an Egyptian Priest that reminds me of Boris Karloff in the classic version of "The Mummy". Check out the eyes on that guy!
Moving way up in history, the synagogue at Rykestrasse 53 is the only one to survive both Kristallnacht and the Allied bombing of Berlin. The city is being very protective of the synagogue. I don't know if it is watched continuously, but every time I went by there were one or two Berlin police officers in front.
The Soviets, as they often did, built a Memorial to their "liberation" of Berlin, complete with two of the Soviet tanks used.
One of the most memorable landmarks in Berlin is the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church). Built in 1895, it was gutted by Allied bombing in 1943. It has been left largely unrestored, but they did fix the clock. I hate to perpetuate stereotypes, but that strikes me as very German--they can endure almost anything but sloppy timekeeping.
While I could often tell when I was in an area that clearly had been part of east Berlin (Soviet apartments are very distinctive), I couldn't find areas where the division between east and west Berlin was obvious. This surprised me, though I guess it shouldn't have. When Berliner's started restoring, renovating and rebuilding, they would begin near the former boundary and work east. After some searching I found the former boundary where there is now the interesting but poorly organized Allierten (Allied) Museum. This museum has exhibits on Berlin's and eastern Europe's resistance to communist rule. There was a map emphasizing the now unclear division of the city. Nearby is the street sign marking where Checkpoint Charlie used to be.
The most memorable landmark in Berlin is what remains of the Berlin Wall. The largest section is about a mile long and covered with free lance art commemorating its' fall in 1989. Some of the art is degrading from exposure to weather or being covered by un-artistic graffiti. And some of the wall too far gone to be of interest is being painted over to make it available for more art. I've never been a fan of modern art, but in Berlin I liked it. I think modern art is highly dependent upon the setting it is viewed in.
My favorite place for viewing modern art is the Tacheles. It is a bombed out, trashed out, partially restored but still totally messed up night club area in the Mitte district. I didn't fit in, it is more for the artsy or radical type, but I enjoyed going there for a few beers and looking around.
My final shot of Berlin is from inside the Tiergarten, a large central park area. It's nice when a city has a large green area where you can get away from concrete and asphalt.