On Monday, I walked around Berlin, with the voice of my mum in my ears. As a Berliner, she always warned me not to underestimate the distance that I can walk. “This is not a small town like Basel”, she said, “beware of that.”
From Friedenau to Breitenbachplatz
From my cosy Literaturhotel in Friedenau I walked to Schlossstrasse and through the Treitschke Park (very nice layed back streets where must be good to live) to the Breitenbachplatz. By looking at the map, I expected a footwalk of half an hour, but Mum you are right… it was almost an hour. The Breitenbachplatz is surrounded by houses under monument protection. I met a friend here.
From Breitenbachplatz to Wittenbergplatz
Alfred Grenander was the architect of the U-Bahn or metro in Berlin. He was a very thoughtful architect. Each metro station has tiles in a different color. And at Wittenbergplatz the station is covered by a nice modern style building.
I say hello and move on to the top floor of Kadewe, which hosts one of the greatest gourmet food stores I know. It is time to eat.
I enjoy a delicious shrimp soup from Büsüm (Sylt).
Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche
I love the dark blue ambiance in the new church of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche; due to its shape the church is also called “powder box”. The original church has been left as a ruin, and now it is completely hidden behind scaffolds. Around the church are many, many souvenir and curry sausage kiosks. And the whole Ku’dam area is under construction.
I take the S-Bahn (town train) and through the window I proudly look at the Swiss embassy that stands in the middle of the German government area (there are rumors that the German government wanted to acquire the land from Switzerland, without success).
Train station “Hacke’scher Markt”. I stroll through the many courtyards of what is called Hacke’sche Höfe and buy ear rings. I love the atmosphere with restaurants, galleries, small shops for jewellery, clothing, soap, and – one of my prefered shops – the Ampelmann (the red and green man in the pedestrian crossing traffic light of Berlin). Ernst also loved this shop and we have a mouse mat from them.
Marienkirche and Neptun Fountain under Sankt Ulbricht
A short break of reflection in the quiet Marienkirche and a hello to Neptun sitting on top of his fountain. Both in the shade of Sankt Ulbricht, the TV tower. There is a cross shining on the tower restaurant, when the sun is out. The story goes that everybody called this tower “Sankt Ulbricht”, and the architect tried to convince Ulbricht that this is not a cross, but a “plus” for socialism…
Construction is going on here as well… “in Berlin wird jebuddelt”. I continue to walk.
To the Schlossplatz and Unter den Linden
What is this? A huge huge hole… it is the hole that the Palace of the Republic has left. There is an information booth called Humboldtbox. Later Antoinette tells me that they plan to rebuild the castle and are now digging out the fundaments.
I turn to the German History Museum. For 8€ I stroll through German history until 1918. Well curated. There are panels giving a brief overview of the period and next to it, there are the artefacts from the time or pictures and later fotos about it.
Destroyed diversity also has a special exhibition. I always feel ashamed for my German roots, when being reminded of what happened 80 years ago: The propaganda, the denunciation of those being perceived to be different and then the subsequent mass executions. I came across Carl Peters who had been integrated in the national propaganda, as he had founded the East African colony (though he died in 1918). The Nazis made a film about him in which the former Askari from Kenya, Bajume Mohammed bin Hussein, fought on the side of Hans Albers. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and died in the camp.
Hello Alter Fritz
I stop by at the monument of Friedrich the Great in Unter den Linden, greet him and apologize that this time I will not visit him in Potsdam and in his pretty castle Sanssouci.
A quick glance at the Brandenburgertor
… and then I take the S-Bahn back to Friedenau. My mum was always proud of the S-Bahn that proves the vision of the government of Berlin in the early 20th century… it allows to overcome the large distances in Berlin efficiently (much quicker than by walking).