Berlin Weekend

2 Dec

My weekend in Berlin will best be remembered by three things: bears, art, and nearly getting stranded in Germany.

Back in the middle of November I went with some other Wattsenglish teachers to Berlin for the weekend. After 7 hours on two different buses we arrived in Berlin at 10:30pm on Friday night. We were staying in former East Berlin and some of the architecture definitely reflected that: large, concrete gray buildings lining the streets.

Saturday was a rainy day and we leisurely walked around town stopping at market stalls for snacks and souvenirs. I got some chai tea-flavored honey, mmmmm delicious. The mascot of Berlin is the bear and we saw a bunch of them throughout the day in various locations painted in various patterns.

We also visited the Tacheles Arts center, which is a huge run-down building covered in graffiti that houses studios and shows for artists. Although I’ve visited a lot of museums in the past year, this was unlike any expositions I’d seen before. It was almost all modern art with a very organic and edgy feeling about it. Besides the studios there was also a large metal works area in the backyard with tons of cool sculptures. And the artists themselves were there working, showing, and selling their art. I bought some postcards and a small poster from some guys who make graphic prints, mixing old photos and comics and stuff like that.

I also bought a print by an artist from Belarus, Alexander Rodin. He was there in the studio selling the prints and autographed the back of mine. He was cute, sweet old guy (not a young, hipster artist by any means). His works were intricate paintings on large canvases, pictures inside pictures addressing contemporary themes. Very cool stuff. You can peruse some of his artwork here.

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day and we set out with all of our stuff to tour some parts of the Berlin Wall and other landmarks we hadn’t seen on Saturday. Our bus was leaving at 3pm so that gave us time to do a fair amount of sightseeing in the morning. The highlights included the Brandenberg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, sections of the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie.

Around 2pm we got on the U Bahn (a metro line) that would take us from Checkpoint Charlie to a metro station adjacent to the bus station. But we had taken a different train line (the S Bahn) on Friday night when we got in, so we didn’t know exactly where to go when we got off the train but we figured we could find it easily. But we also assumed we’d have more than 5 minutes to find it.

Once we were on the U Bahn we had to switch trains at one station and of course the train doors were closing and the train pulled away right as we got up to the platform. So we had to wait 10 minutes for the next train. And then once the train was moving we were held at a few stations, we sat at one for about 5 minutes. So at this point it was 2:45 and we still had a few stops to go before ours. We finally arrived at our stop at about 2:53. We got up out of the metro and had no idea really which way to go.

We followed some signs toward the other metro line (S Bahn) and after a minute saw some stuff that looked familiar. So we ran, backpacks and bags and all, until we saw the entrance to the bus station (it’s surprisingly well hidden). We made it to the bus at 2:58 and of course I was sweating profusely. But the ride itself was uneventful, well, except for an absolutely gorgeous sunset.


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