The game plan worked out perfectly the day before, so of course we kept it for the next days.
For the 4th day in Berlin the plan was simple:
- Modeselektor studio;
- Checkpoint Charlie;
- The wall;
- Boat ride;
- Last stroll on Unter den Liden and Alexanderplatz.
The Tacheles Gallery is a former department store, very much damaged by the World War II, that now houses a self organized collective of artists.The first taste of Tacheles was on the ground floor. Modern iron sculptures , interesting area where one could see the different artists’ exhibitions.
The entrance was free, but in every corner you could see a, often well thought out, piggy bank of some sort where you put money in, to help the artists out.
There we entered a studio and keoshi took a photo of a very beautiful piece hanging on the wall. The geometry and perspective was astonishing, and I also felt compelled to take photos of everything I saw around there – the artist was working a few feet away from where we stood – until I saw a warning, hanging from the ceiling “1 euro per photo“. Ah.
The artist was italian and his english was rusty so we talked in Spanish, and he very kindly asked for 1 euro, for the photo keoshi took. We understood what he meant, of course, they have little money and they need help.
Keoshi asked certain things about the gallery to which he very gladly responded and engaged himself on a conversation with us, always going back to why he needed the 1 euro per photo taken to his work. Even though we told him we understood perfectly his position, he seemed to want to explain why he was asking for the money… he was very nice. We strolled around for quite a bit, taking a look at the pub – that was closed at the time – and all the surroundings.
We started to climb the stairs for more Tacheles goodness and oh my. It’s like a graffiti – stickers – flyers overdose.
The studios on each story were amazing and very interesting. We couldn’t take pictures of most of it, but there were paintings and drawings that were easily bigger than a large door and so well made, that one wished to take a dive in the canvas. It was definitely one of the best experiences we had in Berlin and one that we most certainly won’t have anywhere else. A must see.
We spent most of the morning in Tacheles and when we got out we needed to eat desperately. On the end of the street we saw this small restaurant called Pasta Deli, and we knew we were having pasta for lunch. Everything was delicious and we were off to try to find the Modeselektor studio, which we did…but we only saw the entrance door and *maybe* a glimpse of Ellen Allien! =D
We were off to Checkpoint Charlie that was completely packed with people – it was the first time I saw so many tourists in Berlin… Checkpoint Charlie was pretty much that… a tourist attraction. Checkpoint C was the name given to the Berlin Wall crossing point between the East and the West Germany sides during the Cold War.
The “soldiers” were very interested on taking pictures with all the women and flirting with them at the same time, so everything seemed kinda… boring to me. Much more interesting was part of the wall that could be seen just a few minutes walk from Checkpoint Charlie, on Niederkirchnerstraße.
To actually see the wall sent goosebumps through my spine. A wall that divided an entire city in two sides, a wall responsible for so many deaths, so much suffering…
On the same street we could see the Gestapo Headquarters and the Topographie des Terrors Museum.
We walked and walked and walked taking in the views, taking in as much as we could and strolling around the turkish area of Berlin, Kreuzberg, where we got to see the very quiet and nice neighborhoods and the Michaelkirchplatz.
After walking a bit more we went back to Unter den Liden, where we would buy the boat tickets – but before we had to eat and we sat at this crowded place where we had fish&chips and a few more things – I kept asking for the fried shrimp, but the very nice lady kept missing what I was saying… so yeah. I ended up having the shrimp cocktail…it was shrimp! And after getting our bellies full we were off to the boat ride, that was packed with italians.
We asked for 2 large beers and apparently one of the italians kept staring at us with a critical eye, as if we weren’t old enough to have a beer – all keoshi’s perspective, I just kept on drinking and listening to the gentleman in the headsets that were given to us.
The boat ride was very pleasant and also gave us a chance to take a look at places we could never have seen if we were to walk there, like the place where the German Chanceller lives and works and all the architectural goodies alongside the Spree.
We were aware this was our last full day in Berlin, so we just strolled around and around until we were very very tired…
We went back to the hotel, and since were had only the fish&chips thingies we were hungry by then… The hotel had this dinner pizza menu – a pizza and a beer for 10€ or so, so we sent in 2 of those and had dinner in the very comfy bed of our bedroom.
It was fantastic. Brilliant idea.
The next day was time for a shopping spree. We needed to buy souvenirs for everybody back home so that’s what we did for the whole morning… We visited KaDeWe (mentioned earlier – but it was closed back then) and I honestly think I could live inside the store. The food was simply amazing and could be on display in a museum as pieces of art. There were probably hundreds of different oils and vinegars and so much more. I was in awe.
We took the subway, from the hotel directly to the Berlin Airport – props to Berlin’s public transportation system. It just works.
In just a few hours we would be in a different country, Switzerland, and we knew we would miss Berlin terribly.
When we decided to visit Berlin in the first place, we did *not* think we’d love it so much. True: it’s full of history. True: it’s a modern city. True: it’s the capital of one of the biggest countries in Europe.
But it’s so much more than that.
It’s a city that abides by the rules not being too constrict about it: they know they must follow the rules for the city to work out as it should.
- Are you thinking about crossing the street while the red sign is on? Well, you’ll probably hear a HALT from a fellow german – it happened (not to us).
- Thinking about drinking or eating while riding the tram? nope, you won’t do it because no one else does it, even though they carry opened beer bottles.
But the most important thing about all this rule following system: it’s not an effort.
They do it because that’s the way it should be. Period.