Berlin

Berlin

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.
— President John F. Kennedy - June 26, 1963

One of my goals for 2016, a new years resolution so to speak, is to get better at blogging and capturing, in words and photos, what I've seen and experienced on my travels. It will take some time, but hopefully you will see a change for the better by the end of the year. To achieve that goal I've decided to take a small black notebook and fountain pen with me on my travels, to take notes throughout the day so I wont forget the small details that made the trip or day special.

My most recent trip was my 2 1/2 weeks trip to Germany for Christmas and New Years. I left on December 18th and flew from JFK via Heathrow to Frankfurt. After a painful and long layover at Heathrow I arrived in Frankfurt. I rented a car and drove up to my mom's place, close to Hanover, to stay for a couple of days before heading to Berlin for a short three day trip on December 23rd.

The drive from Hanover to Berlin was pleasant and uneventful, and I had my share of fun on the Autobahn and pushing the rental car to its limit. I left around 1pm and arrived at the hotel in Berlin late afternoon. After unpacking I spent the evening enjoying a nice snack and a few drinks at the hotel. A bit tired from the drive I decided to take it easy and only walked around for a few minutes that night, enjoying the beautifully lit Christmas tree by the Brandenburg Gate. I snapped a couple of photos before catching an early nights sleep in order to rise early in the morning for some sightseeing.

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December 24, 2015 - Christmas Day

I set my alarm for 8 am, right before sunrise. I decided to skip breakfast at the hotel and instead opted for a quick Latte and Pain au Chocolat across the street at Starbucks. I was too eager and excited to get out and explore the streets of Berlin with my cameras. I have to admit, it felt a bit strange to order at Starbucks in German and I almost pulled out my phone to pay with the app. I didn't even take the time to sit down and enjoy my breakfast. With the coffee cup and a small paper bag with my food in my hand I left the store, ready to explore Berlin.

Luckily the hotel, Adlon, is very central and only a few feet away from the Brandenburg Gate, as well as other attractions. The night before I had carefully planned my day and the different sights I wanted to visit. On my list I had the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Strasse unter den Linden, Checkpoint Charlie, and Museumsinsel. It was enough sights for a nice little three hour walk. 

I could not have asked for a better day and weather to explore Berlin. Even though it was December, the weather was mild and I walked around the city experiencing a beautiful sunrise and perfect light for photography. The streets were empty, at times spooky, and I didn't have to mind any tourist groups. It seemed as if even locals took the morning off because I barely ran into people on the streets. One by one I worked myself through the list of sights I had planned on visiting.

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Around noon I arrived back at the hotel and went for a quick stroll to the memorial of the murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial is located right behind the hotel. It's a "sea" of thousands of concrete slabs. I took my time to take it all in and tried capture the sheer magnitude with my camera.

A little after 1pm I took off for a nice leisurely afternoon walk along the "Strasse under den Linden". Our target was the "Berliner Fernsehturm" (TV tower). I still remember when I was a child, standing in long a queue for hours just to get up there and catch a glimpse of the city from high up. How times have changed, I only waited for ten minutes and then we were on our way up. The view was breathtaking. I decided not to take any photos and just enjoy the view. After about 30 minutes I went back down and then headed back to the hotel.

Later in the evening I had a nice family Christmas dinner at "The Grand", a German-French cuisine restaurant close to Alexanderplatz. Luckily the concierge at the Adlon helped out the night before securing a reservation. Service was a bit slow given the amount of people having dinner there that night, however, spending all year in a city where everything is fast paced, New York, I didn't mind at all.

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December 25, 2015

The last day in Berlin was all about soaking up some history and culture in the morning. I got up really early, packed all the bags, and after a quick in-room breakfast headed to the Neues Museum (Museumsinsel) to see the Nefertiti bust. You are not allowed to take photos of the bust itself, but I was able to capture a few around the museum. The entire Museumsinsel is filled with different exhibitions and to enjoy it all you certainly need more than just a morning.

When I got back to the hotel early afternoon from the museum visit the car was waiting for us in front of the hotel, all nicely packed and ready to go. A last look around the Pariser Platz and the Brandenburg Gate and then I was off to visit my dad and the village I grew up in.

Stay tuned for more...

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All photos developed and scanned by MeinFilmLab. Black&White photos are Kodak Tri-X, colour photos are FujiPro400H.

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