I had an awesome time and stayed at a really sociable hostel (Lettemsleep on Lettemstrasse in Prenzlauerberg, and went exploring and drinking with some really lovely friendly new people- .It's a good place to stay, especially as Mitte has much better nightlife than the city centre.
I had never travelled abroad much on my own before despite being 29. Hence my 30th plan was to learn to be more confident at this. I was really surprised by the simplicity of check-in now, last time I flew was in the 90s when you had to join the despairing queues of the 'merrymaking' British to check in, show passports at control, wear a spy moustache etc, none of which you have to do now within the EU.
I like ambling about by foot a lot, but I also loved all the galleries. I am an exhibition fiend so I usually try to cram a lot in. I was a bit surprised by the lack of expressionist art, but of the galleries I visited would say the AlteNationalgalerie, Neu Nationalgalerie, and the Kollwitz museum were best for art. The Natural History museum (Naturkundurmuseum) is also brilliant and has AWESOME THINGS IN JARS.
Beware of scary gallery guards (in my job, we tend to tell people off almost apologetically even if they are swinging from the statues and gnawing on the picture frames, whereas in Berlin you're held to stricter rules.
Kathe Kollwitz, Selbstbildnis en face, 1904
I am obsessed with Kollwitz's art. She is so damn good at showing form sculpturally, even in 2d, and the mood, tone, layout, it's all perfect.
The transport is amazing, it's so awesome to whizz from place to place, especially as each area is so different.
Back to Berlin, I had a good wander about on the first day, or rather night, exploring the bars with new acquaintances, and during the ensuing week hung out in the park, visited the zoo and Tiergarten, looked at a lot of galleries and museums, and went up the Berliner Dom. Jesus! Talk about a climb. It damn near killed me. I don't know why, as an ardent atheist, I always seem to make a beeline for religious monuments.
There are about a million steps and all the way up I encountered wheezing wrecks leaning desperately against the fixtures. I spoke little German and they spoke little English, but we managed to communicate our utter dismay at our collective lack of fitness pretty clearly.
Want to hear this organ in action so much! It's such a beast!
I love oxidised copper. :D :D
I like all the little graffiti messages at the top. I know a lot of people hate it but sometimes it's rather endearing.
I loved the crypt. It was beautifully designed, had fascinating stories and immaculate displays, and elaborately carved coffins. Most of them were from the German royal families. It was a very distinctive style, sombre and heavy, almost pompously ornate, but stark and dignified, too.
I am a sucker for inanimate things with feet. Here is another one.
I didn't realise pictures were allowed until I was nearly out, but I managed to get one (not great quality as I didn't want my flash to cause a zombie invasion) This wikimedia pool has some nicer shots (not by me, I might add) that are well worth looking at.
I ended up here by fluke, as I got terribly overexcited upon seeing a red squirrel walking in Mitte and followed it in.
Then I found the place was really pretty so I wandered around for a bit. I think it was a Jewish cemetery, but my German is so awful that I wasn't completely sure. I think it would look amazing at night.
I liked the way she was sitting in the archway. It is much bigger than life-size.
The Tiergarten was gorgeous, the patterns of light and shade were breathtaking in the autumn light . As usual I had an uncanny knack of favouring cruising hotspots, leading to startled and disappointed looks from the poor guys who encountered a dishevelled, female hippy eating nasty egg sandwiches, instead of the hot love object I ought to be. :D One thing I love about Berlin is the lack of harassment if you are a lone female- mainland Europeans seem to have a better attitude to sex and the human body than people in the UK.
There is a super DIY, practical vibe about Berlin that makes it instantly likeable. It isn't pretentious but is creative and gives you endless ideas. You wouldn't think, for instance, that a ping-pong bar would be fun, but it is. I want to go back someday, for longer....And hence more photos will turn up here sooner or later. The architecture is interesting, atmospheric and unusual, the club scene is strong but not pretentious, and the history of the place, although bleak in places, is fascinating. It does acknowlege its past in numerous monuments and museums which I highly recommend. Almost everyone I met was patient and helpful, despite my struggle with the language!
Frankly it's amazing I even managed to buy food, even bearing in mind that I bought a whole block of live yeast and desperately struggled to use it, until I realised it was not butter.
I had also better mention a fantastic film I went to see on impulse, La Mosquiterra by Agustí Vila, who was answering questions in the bar afterwards. It is one of the oddest and most interesting modern films I have seen for years, because it told a quite tragic set of stories with perfect comic timing, You could have easily have set it to tragic dialogue and made a completely different film. Thus it mirrors reality uncannily well. The idea of approaching reality with a good sense of the ridiculous is very refreshing, but it never turned into parody. Reviews seem to be more mixed that it really deserved, which is a shame.