Friday, August 6, 2010

Mitte

I started my first day in Berlin wondering around Mitte starting at Alexanderplatz. I had no real preconceptions of Berlin besides my knowledge of the world wars. I purposefully didn't read up on the city as I do normally. So map in hand I left my hostel (A&O Hostel) and set out on a great adventure. The downside of not reading about sights beforehand is the lack on orientation.

My first discovery was Neptune's Fountain that is certainly befitting of Neptune. He is flanked by four maidens and held aloft by a clam shell. Why am I spending so much time of a fountain...I love fountains, there is something calming and whimsical about the cascading water. Soldiering on I passed the Rotes Rauhaus obscured by building material and an excavation site. Bypassing this sight I wondered the backstreets and found a little corridor into a courtyard full of tiny shops and a beautiful church/museum. One shop had family of bears sitting on the pavement watching the world go. Imagine the stories they could tell if they could talk.

Something I have noticed from both Hungary and now Berlin is the amount of woodwork, available here in ornaments, candle holders and toys. They are truly beautiful if very delicate and alas I'm not sure they would survive the trip home in my suitcase.

Moving onwards to Museuminsel I started playing with my camera's settings and found the Monochrome setting just in time to document the grandeur of Berliner Dom. There is a minimal entrance fee (3 euros for students) to get in which includes access to the dome, crypt, gallery and museum. I've seen a lot of churches recently, Europe seems littered with them in fact but I'm a sucker for giant copper domes and 360 degree viewing points.

The inside is just as ostentatious as other churches, not notably the Budapest St Stephens Basilica but I did find the crypt interesting. The crypt holds quite a few notables including a few kings and queens but the true eye opener was the number of royal children who died with the first 2 years, many actually within the first 3 months. A quite sobering fact.

I had this brilliant idea to leave the museums til the evening as all the museums stay open on Thursdays til 10pm but it turned out everyone had the same idea (the queue was 1 hr long when I went back).

I wondered through a local evening festival with a few sound stages and stopped for a snack of giant crepes with lemon and sugar. With renewed energy I took on Oranienburger and Auguststrasse to look at the local night-life.

Quite by accident (really) I decided to use the advice of eat where all the locals are and followed a German crowd into what I thought was a restaurant. Turns out it was a restaurant with a huge wooden dancefloor in the middle for Ballroom and Latin dancing for free! I was in heaven, they didn't even mind that I had no shoes (flip-flops don't count). I spent the rest of the night dancing with the locals. Happy happy times :D


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