Hello there A&Hreaders, it’s guestblogger Tanja signing in on behalf of Karen as she’s swaddling and diapering and loving on her new little baby. Congrats is definitely the first order of business. CONGRATS!
So let’s jump in, shall we? My summer has been 180% different than Karen’s. In lieu of nesting and settling in to a home and newborn, I packed my suitcase multiple times and traveled well and often this summer. First stop: Berlin!
I had heard for quite some time that Berlin was the new epicenter of all things creative. And as an artist, my curiosity could no longer be contained. It had to be seen! Luckily a good friend scheduled her wedding in Belgium this summer so I had more than one reason (not that an excuse is ever needed) to plunk down the cash and cross the pond.
One week is just enough time to fall in love with this city and swear to return again and again. Berlin is a “new” old city. If you know anything about world history, you will remember that until 1989, a giant wall divided Germany in to East and West after World War II. West being free and democratic, East being under Communist rule. Thankfully, in 1989 both sides were reunited in to one Germany. Berlin’s history is deep, rich, tragic and triumphant—for a broader understanding, read this.
It’s important to understand the east/west distinction when traveling to Berlin. While it is a unified city there is still a very different feel/vibe/look between the 2 sides. Because the east side is essentially only 15 years old, it’s very much in a phase of rebuilding and reinventing itself. Buildings once neglected, bullet-ridden or covered in graffiti, are re-imagined, renovated and redesigned. Some are brought back to their original pre-war beauty, others are completely modernized. Part of the raw beauty of Berlin is that one stands next to the other—a constant reminder of past and future and an assembly of what’s good about both. Revitalization requires creative vision, which perhaps is why the energy there is so appealing to artists. The potential is massive! And because of this, we spent the majority of our week exploring the east side—our appetites for history, art, shopping and of course food glorious food were satiated.
This post will focus on the sites and views. Next post: food and shopping! Viel spaß…
(L): Remains of the Berlin Wall, visit the Mauer Museum and Checkpoint Charlie to understand the magnitude of what this meant to Germany. (M): Communist era block housing still seen throughout eastern Berlin. (R): “Trabi” graveyard, pretty much the only car available to East Germans prior to 1991. They are no longer manufactured and are now considered novelties.
(L): Fernsehturm in the middle of Berlin, worth a trip to the top for the 360 view (M): Museum Island, where five of the city’s museums are situated on the Spree River. (R): Brandenburg Gate, a signature must-see which is magnificent at night.
Schloss Charlottenburg, built in 1699, is Prussian architecture at it’s best. It’s worth a leisurely afternoon stroll through the sprawling grounds. And of course, coffee and cake in their garden café!
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s “Central Park”. Endless winding paths for walks or bike rides. You can also rent a boat and idle away an afternoon or find your way in to the hidden biergarten and stay put. Or all of the above.
The Reichstag Building or parliament building holds rooftop views that are breathtaking at sunset through the crystal dome. There is also a phenomenal restaurant “Käfer” on the rooftop which is definitely worth the splurge.
Special thanks to my traveling companions for use of some of their photos. Particularly Jenny B., she’s the real deal.