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Michael Oct 18th, 2007 02:45 PM

Trip Report: A long Labor Day weekend in Berlin, 2007
 
2007 Berlin Trip

I went to Berlin for a long weekend over Labor Day. I was invited to a cousin�s wedding and declined unless airfares, which at that point were around $1200 RT, went down substantially. When I found a RT on Delta for $850 I decided to go because an aunt has lung cancer and it would be better to see her while she still is in relatively good health. So the wedding was an excuse to see my aunt for perhaps the last time.

I won�t say much about the wedding which took up a good part of the weekend. I arrived on Thursday morning, went to the wedding venue 60 km. out of Berlin late Friday afternoon and returned to Berlin on Sunday morning. Came back to the States on Tuesday. I encountered one new custom. Most of the celebration took place at a resort which had an gated entrance, probably never used except on occasions like this one. When the wedding party came back from the civil ceremony, the gate was closed and in front of it there was a sawhorse with a log on it. The couple had to use a 2-man saw to cut it, thereby proving that from now they could do the cooperative work needed as a couple. Once the log was cut, the gates to the resort were opened.

A word about the Berlin countryside. We were in rolling hills dotted with lakes. It is developing as a vacation area for Germans in that it does not have any real tourist attractions. But it is between Berlin and the Baltic, and I was told that there are bicycle paths going from Berlin all the way to the Baltic. As we left, I noticed in a small town that there was a Velotel, obviously catering to bicyclists. The immediate family did not stay in the resort but in a brand-new apartment (55€ per night for a 2 bedroom, living room, and eat-in kitchen) carved out of a barn on a farm next door, and the hostess explained that people came to swim, hike and bicycle.



I had two days to see Berlin, which is the real point of this report. For my tours of Berlin I again used Peter Fritzsche and Karen Hewitt�s <i>Berlinwalks</i>, 1994. I did one new walk, which was the one of the Historic City Centre, and an old one entitled �Experiments in Diversity�, which is a tour of the Kreuzberg district. It is perhaps the best walking tour book I have ever read. It excels in combining the present with the history of a neighborhood, so that its current liveliness is a constant. It is still quite accurate 13 years after publication, although the Potsdamer Platz development did not exist when the book was written. There are a few errors here and there. The book describes the Markthalle as having �several places for a stand-up lunch, plus a wide assortment of produce, cheeses, prepared foods, Turkish specialties, fish, meats, and wursts.� I saw no evidence of that, and it seems to contain mainly discount places. But what the book does not mention is that it has a very good restaurant in the same building but accessed from the street. So if doing the tour of Kreuzberg in the morning, this place would be perfect as a lunch stop.

The Historic Centre tour is weaker than the others, in part because some much of it was destroyed. One reads about the history, but the buildings are often modern replacements of what had been ministries that were bombed out during the war. But the book gives a good description of spaces such as the <i>Topographie des Terrors</i> located on the grounds of the former Gestapo headquarters. There is little of the Holocaust but a great deal about opposition to the Nazis because that is where those arrested in Berlin for subversive acts found themselves. Most of the records were destroyed in the bombings, but some were found and brief biographies of individuals are posted on a wall, grouped by category of opposition: Communist, Socialist, Christian etc. The descriptions are in German and English.

Food: most of my meals were provided for during the wedding weekend. But I ate in two restaurants, nothing fancy, but worth a mention.

The first is <i>Yogi Haus</i> (http://www.restaurant-yogihaus.de/) where 5 of us ate well for 75&euro;. For the most part we ordered single dishes--I ordered an appetizer--and 21&euro; was spent on 8 drinks.

The second is <i>Weltrestaurant Markthalle</i> (http://www.weltrestaurant-markthalle.../index.php?s=1) which is not a world restaurant except that it has an international newspaper rack available for all the customers. I had the opportunity to read <i>Le Canard Encha&icirc;n&eacute;</i> and the <i>Observer</i>. For 8.30&euro; I had a cross between head cheese and <i>jambon persill&eacute;</i> garnished with two salads and 33cl of local beer. It�s definitely worth a stop if in the area.

Here are my pictures of Berlin and surrounding area: http://tinyurl.com/yqsp3u

Carrabella Oct 18th, 2007 06:38 PM

Thank you for the report, and insights - great photos too. Going early next year.

Surie Oct 18th, 2007 08:20 PM

Thanks for the report and the wonderful pictures! My daughter is living there and I'm going for a visit in a couple of weeks. It's a cool city.

I'll look for the BerlinWalks book before I go.

I am interested in the area you stayed in for the wedding. It sounds neat and looked beautiful.

Michael Oct 19th, 2007 07:47 AM

The town where the civil ceremony took place is Lychen.

DAX Oct 20th, 2007 07:09 AM

Nice report Michael, I was also a bit disappointed with Kreuzberg as the guidebooks tend to describe it as colorful turkish town but in reality it was more non descript neighborhood lacking any interesting character/flavor. Perhaps there is a specific time frame when one can find street markets.

Michael Oct 20th, 2007 07:50 AM

Dax,

That's where <i>Berlinwalks</i> comes in. It might open your eyes to what is there.

noe847 Oct 22nd, 2007 04:03 PM

Thanks, Michael, for the report. I enjoyed the pictures - you hit a lot of ground in your 2 days in Berlin, but I know you've been there many times before. I'm sorry to hear about your aunt, and I know it was an especially poignant time to be at a family event.

My husband and I were in the city just a few days after you left. We're contemplating a third trip to Berlin for March 2008.

Michael Feb 25th, 2010 09:16 AM

I moved my Berlin pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623174831107/


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