I spent a few days in Berlin at the start of November to bookend the IndieWebCamp conference. The opportunity to travel again to Berlin was in fact a big draw of the IWC. I’ve been a couple of times before, once 15 years ago as a backpacker, and another time about 2 and a half years ago. Each time I’ve really enjoyed Berlin – a modern city with many layers of history.
I arrived on the Friday via Schoenefeld Airport, and took the train in from there to Alexanderplatz.
Coming in through the east of Berlin, you early on catch some glimpses of stunning graffiti from the train, and even a little peek of the East Side Gallery. My room was a couple of stops away by tram, in a big old East Berlin residential block that had the utilitarian feel of something that probably went up sometime when the city was split. Somewhat grim from the exterior, they’re usually cosy enough once you get inside the flat. The weather that day was great, a crisp, cold day with a clear blue sky, so I took advantage of the good fortune and headed out over to the Tiergarten and wandered around.
It’s a great park, spanning several blocks, very well maintained but bordering on the wild side in places. I found it quite magical in those wooded areas by the river, resplendent in full Autumn colours, where the trees reflected off the water.
I came out at the far end of the Tiergarten and went over to the Siegessaule monument (the Berlin Victory Column). It commemorates various Prussian victories, and while battle triumph is not generally my cup of tea, the column does give you a great view from the top. That day was particularly splendid as I emerged at the summit just after sun set, with a huge moon rising in the sky back towards the East, the Telekom Tower a little needle beside it. (Getting a good view of that also constituted something of a victory, rammed as it was with other tourists at the top of the Siegessaule.)
After that I walked back along the canal to have a look at the Bundestag and the Reichstag, the Reichstag dome particular nice lit up at night. You can see little silhouettes of citizens (from one country or another) spiralling around above the parliament. It looks great and the symbolism is good – parliament is for the people, and the people are above it. Not so true in practice, but still a great piece of architecture by Norman Foster. Then I walked over to the Hauptbahnhof, a very swish looking modern central station in Berlin. Multi-layered with trains travelling to geographies various distances away, Germany certainly knows how to do rail travel.
Bach home then, and out to find some food over in Rosenthalerplatz, a fairly trendy seeming spot a few tram stops away.