Berlin Part One

Sep. 30 – Oct. 2 –

While the cycling group had a free day in Dresden on the last day of September, Jack and I mostly stayed in and packed for our Berlin adventure. We caught a few pix from the fire-bombed city’s rebirth as a tourist destination, but just didn’t get inspired to click the shutter much.

I wonder what Allen might have said if any of us had decorated our bikes like this fellow’s.
In the city, there were a few of these excavations fenced off from the public. If you stood far enough away, the fence material showed what used to stand there, before the firebombing. We never discovered what the excavations were all about: archaeological, clearing way for construction, or exactly what.

Our travel day to Berlin began with our last breakfast with the group, where we said farewell to those not headed to Berlin for the optional part of the tour. We taxied over to the train station with Laura, Craig, and Michael and caught the train from Dresden to Berlin’s central station, the Hauptbahnhof. Actually Michael got off one stop earlier to meet a friend.

We didn’t see Craig and Laura because we ran to catch the S-bhan over to Charlottenburg, and Craig and Laura were taking a taxi to the hotel near Checkpoint Charlie where the group was staying for the Berlin option. 

Then the rain began.

In just five stops, we exited again, but lost our bearings and left the station platforms at the wrong end. While we were sorting ourselves out, Page, Ini, and Lee wee awaiting our arrival at the correct exit . . . But we missed each other. Finally getting ourselves righted, we headed to 11 Heilbronner Strasse and rang the bell. Nothing. The rain came harder.

Another resident exited, so we didn’t have to wait in the rain too long, and once inside Jack phoned Page on his cell number, and we discovered our missed connection. It is not a long walk from the Bahn, however, and they came along shortly.

Had a lovely lunch of hot soup and all the fixins, and caught up with happenings, and then rested a while. My niece, Lee had to leave to get some work done back home, and Ini had an evening out with friends, so Page, Jack and I had a reprise of the lovely lentil soup from earlier.

The next day early, Jack and I set off to join the remains of the group for the tour of the Bundestag dome. We tried to get from the Hauptbahnhof to the Bundestag, but were unlucky with the U-55 (subway train) as the platform was closed off. So we walked over and joined up with the group for our appointment to enter, first the security checkpoint, and then the dome itself.

The dome of the German parliament building serves many functions, and combined with solar panels on the flat roofs of adjacent buildings, makes the structure nearly (but not quite) “off grid.” The dome itself vents warmer air from below, it captures rainwater and extracts both cool and warm from it to assist with climate control, and it focuses and concentrates (and shades when necessary) natural light so the primary meeting area is most lit naturally. Visitors circle along a ramp with an audio guide and see lots of the scenery around the structure and then circle back down, exit the dome and can walk around the flat rooftop to take pictures of the area.
This cone of mirrors plus the “shade” you can see some at the upper left (and rotates around to follow the sun when necessary), are the light-handling system.
Brandenburg Gate from The Bundestag.
The crazy roof of the Pottsdammerplatz, an enormous shopping area.
The Teirgarten with Winged Victory statue above the trees (and at the intersection of a million roads where traffic is insane).
Selfie with mirrors at The Bundestag.

Afterward, I took a photo of an interesting memorial to the 96 elected officials serving in the Reichstag (Parliment) during the Weimar Republic, who were murdered by National Socialists. The memorial is right outside the security checkpoint for the Bundestag.

After that, the group walked around “Mitte” or Central Berlin, and saw some sights that Jack and I had seen before, but it was fun hanging out with the group. We stopped for a coffee/tea/chocolate milk because it was damp and chill. When it began raining in earnest, Jack and I split off from the crowd and said our goodbyes to our cycling adventure “family” for this trip, anyway. We hope we’ll have the opportunity to ride with many of them again.

The statue above the Brandenburg Gate has been stolen and removed a few times throughout its history (notably by Napoleon) because it’s been seen as a symbol of might and strength. Actually, it is a symbol of peace, something we can all pray for in this day and age.
Rooftop gardens and gathering places abound in Berlin.

This cross-stone (“Khachkar” in Armenian) was erected in memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian genocide during World War I in the Ottoman Empire. It was here, in St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, that the first Commemoration Service in Germany to honor the victims was held, at the request of the German-Armenian Society on May 14, 1919.

That night, Page and Jack donned aprons and fixed our dinner of chicken Marsala (after heading to the grocery store to get the ingredients). Silliness (and as usual, excellent food) reigned.