08 December, 2004

Berlin Day 1

I finally got to walk about Berlin today. Having already spend €60 out of €100 I withdrew at Frankfurt Airport yesterday, I did the cheap thing and walked around town. Since it is Christmas season, many neighborhoods have their outdoor Christmas markets. The most I spent today was a day pass for the subway (€ 5.60), another döner kabob for lunch (€2), and a glass of glühwein (hot red wine) at €1.

In the Mitte District, there were a great number of art galleries. Since the Berlin Wall came down, I guess a lot of young artists from all over Germany flocked to this neighborhood and took advantage of the district´s historic buildings and low rent. While these galleries may not rival the established art museums, I think they are just as interesting. Now that Mitte is nice and artsy, it has gone the way of SOHO. The yuppies have arrived and brought good restaurants (from what I can see through the windows. My German diet so far is döner kabob and bockwurst) and chic bars.

I also went to the Reichstag, the building that is housing the German Parliament, and walked around Unter Den Linden (the name translates into "Under the Lime Tree." The trees were originally planted by the kaisers. It was a pathway for the kaisers to visit their hunting ground in the west of Berlin. The Nazis chopped the lime trees down so they can march, and the East Germans replanted the trees.), Berlin´s major east-west artery. Pariserplatz, the area around the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichtag, was the most fashionable address in Berlin during the 1930´s. But the US and British bombers took care of that little problem by flattening it with bombs. The East German government then left the area vacant and abandoned for the duration of the Cold War. It is now rebuilt and full of embassies.

I´m not sure what I have in mind for tonight and tomorrow. First on the agenda is to find something to eat that is affordable and not a kabob or sausage. I saw a taqueria 3 blocks from the hostel. Perhaps they´ll provide the answer. I think it is too late to get tickets for the opera. That is too bad. I´m told the tickets are as cheap as €8 and the Stäatsoper has Carmen and Aida on right now.

I may work up the patience to go que for the Reichstag tour tomorrow. But I would like to walk around in the Prenzlauerberg District tomorrow. It is another creative neighborhood that came about from East Berlin. Frankly, I am more interested in these neighborhoods than the museums and monuments. We have enough of them in Washington, DC.

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