Monday, September 24, 2012

Oktoberfest 2012: First Stop, Berlin--15 Things to Do While in Berlin, Germany

Oktoberfest 2012: First Stop, Berlin--15 Things to Do While in Berlin, Germany

Oktoberfest starts in September, the last weekend of September to be precise, and usually lasts for a week. October 3rd, National Day of Germany celebrating the day of German unity or Tag der Deutschen Einheit (October3rd, 1990, about one year after the fall of Berlin Wall). To celebrate Oktoberfest and Day of German Unity, over the next few posts, I'd like to share here a few images I've taken over the years, while visiting Germany:


BERLIN

Boat starting off on Seven Seas, Berlin, Germany.
Seven Seas. Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.



Berlin used to be an island located in the heart of former East Germany (GDR). The end of the communist era in Eastern Europe started with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 7th, 1989. (those who've never lived under a dictatorship and/or on the East side of the wall, will probably never fully comprehend the true symbol of the event)...

Fast forward to 2010, when I got the chance to visit the reunited Berlin for the first time. And I absolutely, totally loved it!

If you wonder what you can do in Berlin, here are a few ideas:



1  - Take a Trabi-ride

Customer at Rent-a-Trabi station, next to the ruins of Berlin Wall, Germany.
Customer at Rent-a-Trabi station, next to the ruins of Berlin Wall, Germany. Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
"Trabi" is mellowed term for a car those in the East had to drive most of the time out of necessity(because there was no other brand). Now, Trabi has become something exotic, painted in various colors and patterns (zebra comes to mind). One can rent a Trabi and go on a Trabi safari around Berlin...

2  - Walk along Unter den Linden, visit the TV Tower and cross through the Brandenburg Gate, back and forth, as many times; you can also take pictures with a model posing as US guard and one posing as USSR guard, or with both of them at ones (they are cute and very friendly)

Front of Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany.
Top of Brandenburg Gate, Front. Berlin, Germany. Seen from East Side. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Top of Brandenburg Gate, Back. Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Top of Brandenburg Gate, Back. Berlin, Germany. Seen from West Side. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.


3  - Check out the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) and cross from one side to another as many times as you feel like

TV Tower in Former East Berlin. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald
TV Tower in Former East Berlin. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.


Berlin, Germany: Ruins of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Berlin, Germany: Ruins of the Berlin Wall. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved,
Symbolic Crossing of the Berliner Mauer. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald.
Symbolic Crossing of the Berliner Mauer. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

4  - Walk on Unter den Linden, by the hotel from where Michael Jackson once dangled his baby son, Prince (it's an Astoria hotel, on Unter den Linden, on the east side of Brandenburg Gate, right by the Russian Embassy)

5  - Walk along Unter den Linden, visit the TV Tower and cross through Brandenburg Gate

6  - Visit Bauhaus Museum

Colorful column at the entrance of Bauhaus Museum. Berlin, Germany.
Colorful column at the entrance of Bauhaus Museum. Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

7  - Step inside the Gedächtniskirche: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, in ruins, and the new church built right next to it

Berlin sculpture was conceived in 1985 by husband-and-wife artist team, Brigitte Matschinsky-Denninghoff and Martin Matschinsky. Unveiled in 1987 in W. Berlin's Tauentzienstrasse in front of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche heavily bombed during WWII, Berlin was one of the eight sculptures designed during W. Berlin's Skulpturenboulevard Kurfürstendamm celebrating Berlin's 750th anniversary. Berlin's motif, a broken chain, symbolizes the severed connection between W. and E. Berlin caused by the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Sculpture and Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Berlin Sculpture and Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Inside the newly built church. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
While the ruins of the old church are left as a reminder, a new modern church was built right next to the ruins. I took this photo inside the newly built Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. (handheld, no flash of course) Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.


8- Join locals in celebrating Germany's victory during World Cup, if you happen to be there during a World Cup (image: Germany won against Australia, World Cup 2010, South Africa)

World Cup 2010 soccer game German Flags and Celebrations, close to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
World Cup 2010 soccer victories, German Flags and Celebrations, close to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
World Cup 2010 soccer game German Flags and Celebrations, close to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
World Cup 2010 soccer victories German Flags and Celebrations, close to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.



9  - Take a cruise on Spree River and the Seven Seas (Seven Seas aka the Hollywood of Europe)

Peacock Island. Seven Seas on Spree River, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Peacock Island. Seven Seas on Spree River, Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Spree River: Seven Seas or the Hollywood of Europe. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Spree River: Seven Seas or the Hollywood of Europe. Berlin, Germany. Photo Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. AllRights Reserved.

10- Visit memorials, the Green Forest (Grunwald), reminders of the past, and also new buildings
Child walking through Berlin's Holocaust Memorial. Photo by Alina Oswald.
The Holocaust Memorial is just west of the Brandenburg Gate, on the western side, and close to the German Parliament. Photo by Alina Oswald.


ailway Station at Grunwald Memorial. B&W Photography. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Railway Station at Grunwald Memorial. B&W Photography. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Take the bus through Grunwald. It's really green, indeed. Stop by the Berlin Zoo. And then Madame Tussaud Berlin.

11- Celebrate and participate in local events:
* Love Parade
* CSD (Christopher Street Day Parade, yes the German Pride Parade is named after Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC)
* Or go to a show, like Queen's We Will Rock You musical.
 




12- Stop by the Biergarten 



Biker sporting German glad colors rides by the Biergarten in Grunwald, Berlin, Germany
Riding by the Biergarten, Grunwald, Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald

13- Stop by Chancellor Angela Merkel Residence... well she doesn't really live here. Mostly works here.

Workplace of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Workplace of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Berlin, Germany. Photo by Alina Oswald.

14- Check out Checkpoint Charlie, the ruins of Berlin Wall and the last (and now only?) USSR flag

Checkpoint Charlie. Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald.
Checkpoint Charlie, the old border between East and West Berlin. Now a tourist attraction, it still displays the last and only USSR flag... Berlin, Germany. Photo copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald.

15- Walk along Spree River and on either side of the West/East mark. Soon, you won't be able to distinguished the former East Berlin from the West, because, after all, today there's only one Berlin. 

Berlin Cityscape: DB train station, TV Tower, and the Spree River. Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Berlin Cityscape: DB train station, TV Tower, and the Spree River. Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
There are many more places to visit and things to do while in Berlin. I plan on revisiting the city... and also updating my list.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Next stop: Sylt, Germany.

Alina Oswald
Writer/Photographer
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS