I want to live there!
08.01.2012 - 08.04.2012
Note: Many pictures I post will not be angled easiest for the viewer - I tried to rotate them appropriately and I kept getting error messages from travellerspoint so you will just have to rotate your head in the direction necessary to view the photo....my patience only goes so far
Slacking on the blog, but to be fair just as soon as my rendezvous with this city was finished, my mom flew in and we are traveling together until I return state side.
This city. This city has a hold on me. Art scrawled everywhere. Musicians on street corners and playing in venues throughout the city. Jazz, punk, rockabilly, and probably anything else you want. The feel of the city is relaxed, the transportation system is efficient, and I felt like I fit right in...minus my lack of ability to speak German (I could learn).
As soon as my internship finished I headed out the next day, Wednesday, August 1st, for this city.
The train ride was exciting as I was sitting in a style room I hadn't sat in yet and I was in the caboose!
Arrived in Train station
Arrived at my hostel - The Circus. When booking there weren't any small number of all female dorms (the kind I wanted to stay in) so I ended up splurging and booking a single for myself where I shared facilities (yay shower shoes!). However, i did feel like I spent a bit too much after I made some friends with some guys from the UK who spent a lot less per night for an apartment they rented for a week. You live, you learn...you hope.
View of/from my hostel
Mirror in the elevator of my hostel
My train got in during the afternoon and as it doesn't really get dark there until 10ish I had plenty of time to explore the city.
The street art I wanted to see most and I have to say this next image broke my heart. Even if the street art is commissioned, there is some sort of purity about it to me, the art form, filling space, likely to not be permanent, and sending messages for all the world to see whether political or art for the sake of art. Paying an artist for their talent is worthwhile - one reason I love tattoos - but this art form being used for advertising didn't sit well with me. personal preference I suppose.
Anyway - no more of that, onto seeing more art in the city and exploring some of the history. I headed to a park first to orient myself to the city with a map and to enjoy a little sunshine. I proceeded to take many photos of street art - professionally crafted and not so professionally crafted. There is so much art I couldn't possibly capture it all, an unfortunate truth.
In my wandering I cam across this statue that was my first wake-up call to the dark history of the country I was in, like being shaken from a dream into the coldness of what the world can really produce.
Later there will be darker things to come, but for now more wandering through the city - exploring what the Berlin of today has to offer.
I made my way to the Berlin wall, or what is left of it. Though this speaks of a dark time in history it is an uplifting sight as the wall has been turned into the Eastside Gallery and covered with art, surrounded by a park, and a really nice area to lounge around. Groups of people were sitting in the sunshine drinking, eating, talking, playing music, and yes, there was some spray painting action taking place.
I tried to take a picture of every single piece on the wall...in case that wasn't obvious.
Onward I went - it's still Wednesday, August 1st folks.
After all this I wish I could say I have pictures from my night out, but I do not - too good a time at the b-flat club listening to some absolutely phenomenal jazz. I made some friends here from the UK, 2 jazz musicians and 1 metal musician and a bunch of stand up guys who I hope come visit Texas some time. I made some other friends too - from the U.S. and New Zealand when I went on an alternative tour of Berlin the following day. All good people I hope to see again some day.
Thursday, August 2nd (my mom's birthday I might add)
Before the alternative tour I roused myself for some free yoga on the rooftop of The Circus Hotel...across the way from their hostel in which I was staying. The sun was strong and the air was clean.
I could definitely live in a place with this sort of terrace (as could be seen from the hotel's roof top)!
After yoga I took my yoga instructor out for a fresh glass of orange juice as a way of saying thank you for the class - in our discussion I learned of the affordability of Berlin - 3 bedroom apartment with living room and kitchen for 600euros total. She was really nice and we discussed the health care system in Germany as well as the system in the UK. She moved back to Germany after living in the UK for 9 years. Interesting discussion and I won't bore you with the details.
Onto the alternative tour and the artworks I saw there!
These golden squares are put in front of places where Jewish families were pulled out and taken/killed. They are controversial as people walk on them, but the more people walk on them, the more they shine and draw attention to the lives that were lost during WWII. (as told to me by my Scottish tour guide of the free Alternative Berlin Tour)
This next piece is pretty amazing....it is 3D art (vines, chimney stack, windows, etc are painted)
Old bombed out train station in an area called suicide circus
more suicide circus
This turret was turned into a rock wall - was wishing I had my shoes and chalk on me
Myself and one of my new friends from the UK (the one who joined me on the tour) and a few other people I made friends with all went out for some Thai food and then on our walk I saw this place and thought the sign was funny so I took a picture.
That night, myself and some of my newfound friends went out to listen to some music. I wanted to go see a punk show and knew of one venue that had a show, but we listened to the bands before and didn't think it'd be that good and they were asking more money than we were willing to pay and a couple doors down we had seen someone playing a standup bass (my favorite instrument) and the show was free. It was some really amazing psychobilly. One guy on the standup bass, one guy on a sweet looking guitar (sorry musician friends - I know nothing more than the aesthetics) and one guy on one of the boxes you sit on and play kind of like a drum - tell me someone what this is called! Also, the singing was all in German. It was truly a great show and most of the people in the bar knew the songs and were singing along. The crowd was a bit older, but with their posters on the wall it seems they may be fairly well known. I can probably look the name up if anyone is interested in knowing who they were. Glad to hear some music not from the states as it seems to be EVERYWHERE (bad music most of the time too).
Friday, August 3, 2012===Sachsenhausen===
I almost wanted to do a different blog for this section, but maybe no one would read it or look at the photos due to its serious nature - I went with some of my new friends to a concentration camp.
Though it doesn't say it immediately on wikipedia, it was one of the first if not the first camp where they did gassings. They experimented with gassing people here. I cannot convey the weight of this space. I cannot convey the feeling you get when in the tight quarters of the prison and the flood of tourists coming in where the heat of the bodies are coming together and you can only get the faintest glimpse of the claustrophobic dread that must have surely been present. There is no way for me to fully understand what all those people went through, but the weight of the land is enough to make a person do nothing but wish for peace, to wish for no human to ever commit such atrocities ever again. To read quotes from prisoners talking about this first crematorium and then see the burners themselves. To read about how they would shoot and hang the prisoners and see the place where the very killings took place. I have never been to war and I cannot imagine it, but it is hard not to imagine the pain of all those suffering in this place. To think of all the people dying in the world even now at the hands of war. To see spaces that you might have considered safe, but to know prisoners were tortured in every spot of this camp. Everyone should be at such a place to remember and to feel in their bones this darkness that existed/exists amongst humanity. Maybe if we all knew the feeling I felt, we would all have more appreciation for life and less desire to harm "the other."
There is a lovely neighborhood, just outside the fence - there was a neighborhood looking in during war time as well. I cannot imagine.
That night I took a few more photos of art. I am still alive and appreciate what I love in life. I cannot stop contemplating and rummaging through the emotions and thoughts of that camp, but if we are alive we must live and enjoy the lives we lead as much as possible.
With some of my new friends we went out for some more phenomenal jazz - a great drummer from Atlanta, Georgia who we heard playing at the b-flat bar and were now hearing with a much larger group of musicians at the "where is waldo?" bar. Say waldo like Valdo.
I departed Berlin on Saturday after a nice lazy morning and great breakfast at this cozy cafe.
Somewhere along the way I saw this statue.
And now I think I may constantly be thinking of how I can return to Berlin - the city embraced me in every way and I would love to call it home or at least a place to get away to again.
A city who had over 80% destroyed is now a living breathing masterpiece.