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Trip Report: Berlin & Dresden, March 17-24

Trip Report: Berlin & Dresden, March 17-24

Apr 4th, 2005, 10:44 AM
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Trip Report: Berlin & Dresden, March 17-24

This is a report of our week spent in Berlin and Dresden. The reason for our trip was a family affair, so our touring in Berlin was limited. But we did go to two museums, the Reichstag and had a tour of the Jewish section of Berlin. We went to Dresden for a day and a half and visited most of the �required� sites with the exception of the porcelain collection.

In Berlin we visited the Bröhan-Museum across the street from the Schloß Charlottenburg for its Jugenstil and Art Deco collection. We also saw the Gemäldegalerie in the KulturForum for its Old Masters collection. The Kulturforum is within easy walking distance of the Potsdammer Platz U-Bahn station. Both are highly recommended if that type of art interests you. The Bröhan-Museum is relatively small and can easily be an add-on to a visit to Charlottenburg.

We went to the Reichstag as a family outing, with reservations for the roof restaurant. The family was in agreement that the restaurant survives only because of its location which will cater to tourists who do not know any better. But it has a great view over the eastern side of Berlin and we did not need to stand on line to get to the roof of the Reichstag. The food was good, but expensive for what you got, and while I did not notice it, others complained about the lousy service.

From the Reichstag we went on a tour of the Scheunenviertel which was part of Berlin�s Jewish neighborhood. The guide has been doing it for 20 years, so the information was quite thorough. Of course there is little left to remind anyone of Jewish existence. The housing does not look particularly bad, although the houses were built as tenements. The guide explained that insurance companies just did a front visual for insurance purposes, so the front of the houses looks like the housing in any other part of the city (façadism with a purpose). And of course, the interiors have been since upgraded and modified. The Jewish Cemetery has been turned into a park, with two memorials in front of it. One of them is a group sculpture of women and children as survivors, which originally was supposed to be placed elsewhere but because of some controversy--I do not remember the details--it eventually was placed at its present location. The guide felt that this grouping was misleading because most of the people deported from that location--there was an Jewish Old People�s Home at the site used as a collection point by the Gestapo during the war--were immediately exterminated and would not have been survivors as pictured in the group sculpture. The tour ended in front of the Neue Synagoge on the Orianenburg Straße. If you are interested in this part of Berlin�s history, you do not need a guide. Most of the information is just as well presented in Berlinwalks by Peter Fritzsche and Karen Hewitt.

Food: As mentioned, we ate at the rooftop restaurant of the Reichstag, recommended only for its view and its convenience. Near Charlottenburg Schloß we had a pizza at the Restaurant u. Cafe Pinelli. It costs us 25.10 euros for 2 wines, soup, pizza, dessert and two coffees. Just the thing we needed. After our tour, we stopped at the Oranium Cafe-Bar-Restaurant to warm up. Drinks were about 2.50 euros, whether coffee or alcohol (for that price I could not pass up a Pear Williams). It�s worth going in just to look at the bar set up. More out of the way was a local neighborhood Indian restaurant that was quite good: India Haus, Feurigstraße 38/39, 10827 Berlin, which is in the Schöneberg district. 73.50 euros for 5 persons. In the entrance of the S-Bahn Schöneberg station for the ring line there is a café-restaurant which serves decent food, but we were warned that it is a �social� restaurant. Its manager is a social worker, and the staff consists of persons with various psychological problems that require some form of supervision or support. We were told that one might see strange behavior but everything was normal that night.

We late one morning to go to Dresden. We had reservations at the Ibis Lilienstein (67 euros w/o breakfast for a very clean and functional room) on the Prager Straße, which is the pedestrian mall that goes from the train station to the city center. My wife hated the DDR architecture, I found it interesting for what it represents, and felt that it probably looks better in the summer when the trees are leafed out. It looks like some DDR planner believed in Le Corbusier�s cité radieuse. We meant a local resident who was very dismissive of it, but it is difficult to know how much political attitudes come into such judgments. At any rate, I find it more manageable than Berlin�s Alexanderplatz, and one wonders what people will say about Berlin�s Potsdammerplatz 50 years from now. Our lunch was a sausage sandwich--the roll is just big enough to hold the sausage which is about a foot long--just enough to carry us over to dinner. That afternoon we had a brief tour of the center of the city and then we went to see the Albertinum for its 20th century collection and the Green Vault collection. The former should be seen by those interested in German Expressionism, and the latter is a must for anyone passing through Dresden. If there is only one thing that you have the time for, go to the Green Vault collection, now housed in the palace. The next day we went to the Museum of Saxon Arts & Crafts which happened to have an exhibit of Easter eggs (this was the week before Easter) with differently decorated eggs--some were decorated by doing cutouts of the shells themselves--placed everywhere among the permanent exhibits. They also had people selling their decorated eggs; so if you collect such things, I strongly urge you to go to Dresden the week before Easter. We then walked to Pfunds Molkerei, which gave us a sense of residential neighborhoods. Every square inch of that dairy store is decorated with tiles, and we ordered an east German cheese sampler and two glasses of wine for a light lunch. We walked back along the river which was 4 meters above normal--tour boats could not go under the bridges--and spend the afternoon at the Zwinger to see the Old Masters and have a brief look at the armor collection. The latter is extensive, but uniquely German. The N.Y. Metropolitan Museum has a more interesting collection in that it covers a much larger geographical area. We then went back to Berlin.

Eating: we are not breakfast eaters, so we simply walked down the Prager Straße until we found a coffee shop and had two coffees and shared a roll. I already mentioned our lunches, and for dinner we ate in a Czech restaurant located, I believe, on the Königstraße. Good plain food, although my wife had a strange dish, which was a dumpling cake. Apparently the dumpling is cooked, ground and molded into a square pan so that it comes out like a thick firm polenta--interesting, but not great. The beer and wine were fine, and the price was right--something like 60 euros for three.
Michael is online now  
Apr 4th, 2005, 11:05 AM
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For pictures, try this link:


Let me know if it does not work.
Michael is online now  
Apr 4th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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The URL did not work for me, Michael.
kvadragon is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Thanks Michael.

Your report brings back fond memories of '98 & '99 when friends from college lived in Leipzig.

I had a ball using their home as a base for day trips and traveling for overnight trips of various lengths to Dresden, Prague and Berlin.

I think Berlin is an underrated city with a great art presence.
indytravel is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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Link didnt work for me either
h2babe is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 12:05 PM
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Second try for pictures:

Michael is online now  
Apr 5th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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Thanks for the interesting trip report and the nice pics.

As a local I can tell you that most Dresdeners don't like the Prager Strasse architecture very much, but it is quite popular for shopping and just hanging out. Yes, in summer it is indeed quite nice with the leafed out trees, blooming flowers and the fountains. Btw, the big block, inspired by Le Corbusier, is supposed to be restored and slightly redesigned in 2006.

I am quite surprised you visited the Saxon Folk Art Museum, it is relatively unknown among tourists. The Easter related exhibit is still on display till end of April, and there is a lovely Christmas exhibit every year in Dec till Jan/Feb.

Re armoury collection: Due to lack of space they present German pieces (almost) only. After the reconstruction of the Royal Palace will be finished there will be pieces from other regions on display there as well, e.g. the famous "Turkish chamber" armoury.

Of course you could not see much of Dresden in 1.5 days. Sorry you missed the opera, Pillnitz Palace, Blue Wonder bridge ... etc.

Ingo is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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I, too, visited the Saxon Folk Art Museum (because I'm interested in folklore and folk arts) and loved it. When I was there, they had a temporary exhibition about marionettes and showed a fascinating film about a travelling marionette theatre that had been in a single family for generations. I'd really recommend the museum to anybody interested in traditional crafts.
KT is offline  
Mar 10th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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The connection to the photos no longer works. This is the new URL: http://www.photoworks.com/members/sl...927&key=mksfca
Michael is online now  
Mar 24th, 2009, 09:27 PM
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And for photos of Berlin:

Michael is online now  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 01:18 PM
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I gave up on Photoworks. My pictures are reposted here:

Michael is online now  
Feb 5th, 2010, 11:13 AM
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Nice photos, Michael. Thanks!
klondike is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Delightful photos...we are planning a trip to Berlin in April, so these serve as both information and inspiration!
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