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Wir sind Berliner (by David)

by on July 16, 2015

No, we are not jelly-filled pastries.  ( says that story about JFK’s speech is a false urban legend, by the way).  We are well-traveled and quite tired vacationers after another day around Berlin.

But first…. the good news is that Renee does not have whooping cough. She’s sure been coughing, and spent two solid days in bed in Berlin, only leaving the apartment to go to a doctor.   The doc suspected whooping cough, but the tests are negative.  It’s also not pneumonia, and there’s no ear infection, even though all those things hurt.  Just a nasty bug that is in her lungs and head.   Hooray, I guess.

Yesterday we walked around some more, including the Jewish Museum and some neighborhoods.

Interesting insight:  so far we’ve spent most of our time in the city center, which was all in East Germany.  And it’s really beautiful and active and hopping and all that. Yesterday we walked into the Kreuzberg neighborhood, which was in West Germany…. and it was quite a wasteland. Everything there looked and felt like I expected the East side would look… graffiti, crappy construction, bad architecture with lots of gray concrete, deserted parks with long weeds and no vibe, etc.  Maybe this all is a result of the fact that Berlin was the capital of East Germany, whereas West Berlin was really an outpost of West Germany with little economy and minimal population?  Maybe all the money after reunification went into the East side?  I dunno.  Kreuzberg is advertised as being the “up and coming center of the counter-culture”;  I guess not.  The photos may not do it justice, but I tried to take some shots of the gray places.  

I really liked this church in Kreuzberg…. But can’t find a single thing about it online.  Just another old church.  Interior was all brick, too.

Other thought:  wow, Berlin is a big city.  Population and land area are pretty close to that of the City of Los Angeles, so even though we’re staying close to the center of town, there’s a lot of ground to cover.  Especially after Edinburgh, Dublin, Galway, etc., which are quaint and compact.  Berlin has a great tram and subway system, though, and we love our all-access hop-on, hop-off passes.

Fun activity last night… we saw an “art” project that for a few months is displaying a big multimedia show on the walls of the parliament buildings across the river every night after the sun goes down (which is 10 pm).  We were anticipating lots of colors and lights and rock and roll, but what it turned out to be was a pretty good history lesson on the last 100 years of Berlin… fortunately with English subtitles. But there were colors and lights too.

Today we went to the official memorial exhibit to the Berlin Wall…  a park along a 1000-foot stretch of the wall that they set aside and didn’t tear down.  Renee felt well enough to get out, and it was a good exhibition.


 Then we saw the other big sites that Renee hadn’t seen… the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag parliament building.


Which led to the big annual tradition:  Anna’s birthday is tomorrow (14) and we try to have a celebratory meal in the highest place in whatever town we’re in on (or about) July 17.  We had a very nice lunch in the fancy restaurant on the roof of the Reichstag, with a great view of the city on a beautiful warm day.

(Note the sparkler….)

Happy Birthday, Anna!  No, you don’t get a BMW i8 for this…. or any…. birthday!

Tomorrow this road show packs up and moves on to Warsaw…  with a  5-hour train ride.  Don’t think we’ll have too much to report.

Misc notes:

Renee and I are just stunned to realize that the “fall of the wall” happened in our adult lifetimes…. it fell 2 months after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Very recent past, not like WW II.

We’re pretty happy so far with the basic plan of this trip, which spends 4 nights and therefore 3 solid touristing days in each big city.  Yes, it’s quick; we’re just dipping our toes in to the top 10 things to see in each city, rather than diving in deep to all they have to offer.  It’s very different than our first trip, where we spent 2 weeks in some cities (and by the end of each, had pretty much run out of things to see).  We’re getting a good sample of everything in the buffet.

Renee’s step counter says we’ve walked 397,552 steps so far… which is about 200 miles!

We’re halfway through the trip:  29 days down, 27 to go.   Other than Renee being sick in the last week, we’re doing well…  the European washing machines are spinning our clothes to shreds so we’ll need to go shopping when we get home, we’re handling the interesting foods (which only get more interesting from here on), it’s fun to have Rachel and now Aunt Ginny along to break up our time with just ourselves, etc.  It’s all good.

The Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylonia  

 Here we are in at Alexanderplatz, scene of a big scene in The Bourne Supremacy


One nice thing about Aunt Ginny being here, is she can take the kids out for burritos, and Renee and I can have a lovely evening finishing leftovers from the Lebanese restaurant, watching the sun set over the church, from our rooftop patio.



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