Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Postkarte aus Berlin: Nummer eins

After an eight hour flight in which I was blissfully knocked out (thanks clonazapam!) I emerged in a misty, rainy Berlin, where I surprised myself by confidently asking the somewhat laconic bus kiosk operator for a ticket on the X9 bus. He handed me the ticket without a word, perhaps stunned by my horrific use of the German language (as was the passport control dude, now that I think of it....)

A short trip on the almost-quaintly tiny U-Bahn brought me to my super clean accomodations, which are shared with a pleasant woman who I suspect may be a follower of the Bagwhan Schree Rajneesh (everything in the apartment is orange!). She helped me unpack, and shuttled me out the door, as I was due at the Goethe Institut for my placement exams. (How mean is that?! First they send a girl on an overnight, transatlantic flight, and then they test my German after only a few hours sleep! Sheesh!)

Because I am a recalcitrant, rebellious lass, I took my sweet time getting there, and instead took a stroll on a nearly two-hour hike from Shoeneberg to Mitte. Here's a bit of what I saw:

The center of the city still feels very much in transition. As you can see, there are several sites that are under development (they are dismantling the Palast der Republik, for example), and others are seemingly just waiting for some developer to come and snap them up and turn them into luxury condos. I didn't take any photos of the Potsdamer Platz, as it is a horrorshow (I mean, really! Why take a historic center of a city--a place that the Berlin Wall ran smack through--and make an ugly, could-be-anywhere shopping mall there? Ugh!)

I did take plenty of "remnants of socialism" photos in the former DDR though--luckily the powers that be haven't decided to paint them over with ads for Siemens or Daimler Chrysler.

I like the way this fellow is jauntily leading the masses:

while the bearded fellow, below, is a bit more serious about his task.

I did visit Marx and Engels, of course, but there were so many tourists clustered around them that I had little chance to take an adequate photo...which is my excuse for why it looks like Karl's head is exploding:

There are still remnants of the wall scattered throughout the city, but it seems that most of them have been dismantled and placed in random locations. Such was the case here, where this bit appeared in the front courtyard of what appeared to be a relatively swanky apartment building:

This second spot was a bit more somber--although I didn't stop to read the sign, I think this is the area where the longest part of the wall has been preserved. There weren't many people around, as you can see, and it definitely had a sort of "lost-in-time" feeling about it:

Overall, things are going super-toll here, although I have been somewhat grouchy about how little time is alloted to eating, and how much to shuttling around on public transport. I miss my bike, and I've yet to find a tofu-wurst, which I do know exists.
I also haven't had time yet to examine the seedier side of Berlin--a quick jaunt through Kreutzberg last night did uncover two rats, however, so that seemed promising.


Colleen said...

I love the stern, disembodied, floating, bearded head!
I had some really good veggie sausage in Germany, with salted potatoes and a pile o' kraut...I hope you find something similar.

jujubugger said...

yaayyy! you've made it over! pics are looking great - keep on postin!

Anonymous said...

Wunderbar -- I'm so envious. I bet you'll be whizzing around on public transportation in no time. What are your fellow students like?


Queencarlotta said...

Hi pals!

I am happy to report that I bought a big package of tofu bratwurst last night and fried 'em up in a pan. Yum!

As for the other students--mostly Spanish and Italian college students, with a good smattering of other fellowship winners...journalists, artists, professors, etc.

More photos coming...Internet connections here suck!

Meghana said...

oh this is so exciting! travel stories by the best storyteller in the world! Miss you and hope you're having a wonderful time.