Once again we started our day with an in-house breakfast. Debbie has become good friends with the proprietress at the Turkish bakery!
We walked a short ways from our apartment to the East Side Gallery. This is a 1.5 km stretch of the Berlin Wall that is covered by murals. These murals were painted on the east side of the wall to celebrate the freedom to do so. There are many political statements but also many whimsical themes. It was very impressive.
My one disappointment at the East Side Gallery was the graffiti defacing the murals. Berlin is absolutely covered in graffiti, some of which is legitimate graffiti art but most of which is not. It literally covers most every surface and one doesn’t even notice it after a while. However, when it destroys the significant works of actual artists, I find it disconcerting. Last evening when I was posting the sneak peak pictures, I included one of the iconic depictions of two men kissing. It wasn’t until I saw the larger image on the blog that I realized that the mural was marked with a word that I consider to be very offensive. I quickly replaced the picture but I apologize to anyone who may have accessed the blog in the short time the post was up.
Of great interest, a portion of the west side of the wall is now dedicated to an exhibit entitled WallOnWall. These murals depict scenes of the various walls that separate people in many places. A very moving exhibit, again reminding us just how privileged we are to live where we do and travel wherever we wish.
After our time at the exhibits, we strolled south over the Oberbaumbruke Bridge to the district of Kreuzberg. This area, once abutting the wall and the home to Turkish immigrants, offers a interesting look at a gritty, diverse Berlin. We enjoyed coffee & pastry, strolled through a park with some questionable loiterers, visited the busy shopping area with many unique and trendy shops, and had fabulous soup for lunch. The boys had a potato & wiener creation, while Deb & I marvelled over our puréed pumpkin & sweet potato with Jamaican spices.
We then hopped on the train to the district of Prenzlauer Berg. This area was in total contrast to Kreuzberg. Here, the neighbourhood was orderly, modern or newly renovated and judging by the number of ‘kinder’ shops, obviously home to young families. After enjoying a walk in the sun, it was on the train again and back to our apartment for a short break.
Our evening activities varied. Deb had a quick small dinner and then went off to German hot yoga class. She enjoyed this immensely but noted it was not as demanding as a Red Deer class. Larry sampled Vietnamese cuisine, bought a few records at Vinyl to Go and spent some time on his own in the neighbourhood.
Harv & I took the S-Bahn to Octoberfest at Alexandrplatz, to try out the mouthwatering food we had noticed yesterday. The goulash and spatzle, paired with a German beer, did not disappoint – it was great! We then headed over to see the Reichstag and the Brandenberg Gate at night.
On our walk about, we happened upon an outdoor, multi-media presentation about the history of the German political system. Although in German, it included English subtitles and was quite interesting.
It was an excellent 3 days in Berlin. We had read that you should see the sights and then get out of town. We disagree. There are a lot of sights to see – not being museum buffs, we only scratched the surface of the museum collection. But one of our focuses when we travel is to see how the locals live and get a feel for life in the city. The location of our vrbo was great for mixing with Berliners, rather than tourists, and we felt we visited some interesting districts. Berlin is a very liveable city, altho’ on the gritty side in some areas (and they could do some work with general litter clean-up). We definitely would enjoy returning to spend more time in this city!