Thu 14 Nov - Berlin, Germany

A very B-B-B-Berlin day... and Max.

Today we had one loose plan for the day and one definitive plan for the evening. We had made up a mixed list of things that we would like to see across the "border" and into old West Berlin.

Bahn first... First stop was to check out the area around Kurfürstendamm, so taking advantage of our Berlin cards, we were on the trains a few times today.

We have arrived...

Kurfürstendamm location shot.

No wonder the east Berliners thought that the west was Disneyland.

Kurfürstendamm, the major shopping strip of West Berlin is like the Champs Élysées in Paris, a wide shopping boulevard with mostly expensive outlets such as Bulgaria, Chanel, Gucci just to name a few.

A bit of Bourne movie magic next... Sorry, we love the movie series and most of the second movie, "The Bourne Supremacy" was filmed in Berlin.

This place is at Kurfürstendamm 193 is called Haus Cumberland in real life, but in the movie was a fictional hotel called Hotel Brecker. It was here where Jason Bourne had his first assignment, killing a Russian politician and his wife. To us it is a recognizable facade but of course no glowing neon sign of Hotel Brecker.

A broader location shot where today a bunch of workers were preparing Christmas trees.

There seems to be one of these hotels in various places around the globe.

Bombed church next - we stumbled onto this semi restored cathedral for Kaiser Wilhelm I, called... Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church as we wandered eastwards on Kurfürstendamm.

A sign inside said the scaffolding and plastic sheeting would be removed by end of summer, guys...

The only part poem is a memorial hall, which had some interesting information. An extract from the church parish minutes shortly after the bombing in 1943 relaying the damage and need to move the congregation.

The restorers had painstakingly patched together the fabulous mosaic roof in this hall and it was gorgeous.

Lots of angels feature with gifts and messages to the Kaiser Wilhelm, the first kaiser of Prussia. Hmmm... Did God really support the forming of Prussia?

There is a huge park in the area west of the Brandenburger Tur, called Tiergarten (literally animal park). Of course the zoo and aquarium are located in a portion of the park and Di felt a bit homesick when crocs, tropical fish and snakes featured.

Time for a cuppa and we found a nice spot in Tiergarten and unpacked our tea and cookies. It felt very civilized and we were given quite a few glances from joggers and walkers coming by.

Yes it is definitely autumn and Hans says the smell is familiar to autumns in Sweden but to Di, having grown up with non-deciduous trees it is a nice treat.

Bauhaus Museum was next - on the map it all seemed close by so we kept zig zagging through the southern side of Tiergarten and onto Klingelhöferstraße.

The museum didn't look that impressive from the street and we commented on that hopefully the inside is more interesting.

Outside, it didn't look that good from the other side either. Can you pick the entrance?

However, the Bauhaus museum was a fascinating hour of design history.

Bauhaus was a school of design which only ran from 1919 to 1933 (when the German authorities shut it down) but its influence was immense and still very much which us today. The philosophy was that tradesman needed to be artists and artists needed to be able to work with materials like tradesman - and that the result should be something that was pure to its purpose and also beautiful.

These chairs would be familiar to all of us - before Bauhaus artist designed these in the 1920's there was no tubular steel furniture.

At this point we were told off for taking photos...back to the good old "no photo" sneakiness...

Then we were told off for leaning on the glass Hans and Di commit the combined crime! Repeat offenders...

Bauhaus also thought about colours and both Kadinsky and Klee (famous modern artists that we saw in the Tate in London) were teachers here. Kadinsky came up with the concept that red=square (not that we quite follow that but still...)

The Bauhaus college centre was designed by its teachers and to us looked like it set the blueprint for all future technical college campus designs. Seriously this looked very familiar...and yet it was the first.

What made us say "wow" were the desk lamps - shown here. First of their kind. These guys were good and definitely had a lasting impact.

The exhibition was not very big and after an hour we figured we had seen it all and could not take many more sneaky photos so we headed out to the canal nearby to walk towards Potsdamer Platz for lunch.

We can't believe our luck with the weather. It's cold but clear and sun is just a very nice bonus.

Ok, we were a bit ashamed when we reached the area around Potsdamer Platz, an "Australian Bar and Posh pub"? That seemed very un-Australian to us.

Lunch called and we followed the crowd into a shopping mall food court at Alter Postdamer Straße.

Good decision. We had previously noticed the NordSee chains selling nice fish meals and thought it was good value for a fresh piece of fish, nice vegies and potatoes. Turned out to be delicious and we will be eating there again. Also saved us cooking tonight.

As we came up from the underground of Potsdamer Platz and onto the Platz itself, this is the first thing we saw...

Potsdamer Platz is very busy traffic intersection, in fact the first place in the world where traffic lights were installed, so it was a bit of a surprise to have a slope of real snow.

But around the snow slope, the Christmas Markets were in progress. These ones here at Potsdamer Platz run for over 2 months, from early November to early January. The Germans must love these...

And it is all very cute with their little timber huts, although most if not all Christmas markets we have seen being set up seem to have them.

The building to the left looked a bit Bauhaus to us and in conjunction with the other two high rises they created a nice contrast to the markets on street level.

In a surprise German act of inefficiency, although probably good reasons for it, if you want to switch between the S-bahn to the U-bahn, you have to get up at street level and walk a short distance before you can head underground again. So we did... And passed this artistic flutist on the way, standing on one leg with his other leg barefoot in the air. OK...?

Bahn again... Potsdamer Platz station looked really good, retro and colorful.

Bundestag was our next stop through a short walk from Hauptbahnhof..., yes that place were Hans spent 2 hours rescheduling train tickets and then waiting as part of his "epic" journey in 2010.

The Bundestag dome is open to the public and is free to enter, but you have to queue, make an appointment and then go through the whole security apparatus, so we left that for another day.

Old West Berlin and Bundestag to the left and old East Berlin and... a crappy building to the right. We are both standing on where the Berlin Wall once stood. They could have hurled anything at each other from the windows of each buildings.

Moving on towards Friedrichstraße station, in the river Spree was this Greenpeace boat with their common banner for something, this time for releasing those imprisoned activists in Russia. Oh well, there are risks with getting involved in pseudo piracy in our minds...

Bourne again. He was running over these girders next to Friedrichstraße station...

And Hans with his best Jason Bourne impersonation running up the stairs to jump into a train and escape the Polizei. Nowhere near as elegant as Bourne of course...

We then took the train the one stop from Friedrichstraße to Hackescher Markt, bought ourselves a piece of afternoon pastry, to share, with a cup to tea at home and then had a rest for a few hours before our night out...
We have tickets to Max Raabe & Palastorchester at Admirals-Palast starting at 8pm.

So just after 7pm we took the train back to Friedrichstraße station again where you can see Admirals-Palast from the platform.

As we had time for a drink since it was still only 7.20pm and 40 minutes before the show started, we plonked ourselves onto a couple of bar stools in the front restaurant and bar of the theatre.

There was a bit of a show going on there too. The bartender guy was clearly under the pump (excuse the pun) and was pouring beer with a furious pace. When we asked him, he indicated short staffed and that he was stressed, but managed to smile anyway.

The serving personnel were either short staffed and/or new to the job because they couldn't keep up with the demand either. Some of the beers stood there on the counter for a while with less and less head, well, while other had perhaps 2/5 of head on them, and yes, it looked like some of the beer was sent back by displeased customers.

Fun for us to watch anyway...

Max... We had first balcony tickets and this is from where we sat.

And looking broader over the first balcony section.

Unfortunately, "no photos" yet again and we didn't dare to sneak one in. The next two photos were taken during the break from the centre of the first balcony section.

And a close up of the stage for Max Raabe & Palastorchester...

For those unfamiliar with this popular German performer and band, Max Raabe & Palastorchester...
The style is cabaret of the 1920's and 1930's where Max is backed by a predominantly brass band (12 people, 11 men and 1 woman). Max sings beautifully and the musicians are incredibly talented and switch instruments and play anything from Mack the Knife (in German known as Macky Der Messer) to a Paso Doble with castanets. Rumbas and foxtrots and tangos feature as well. One part of the performance was the pianist playing "Over the rainbow" on water glasses and another part was bell ringing where each orchestra member having a bell with a different tone. Yep, it is all very very smooth and impressive...
Max sings some German songs from the Weimar Republic period and also a few English pieces (like Rogers and Hammerstein). The good thing is that with some basic German you can follow Max as his articulation is excellent, and his own original lyrics are often tongue-in-cheek. Like one song on women having no problem knowing all the answers, another which was about how good someone is at singing and dancing when nobody looks, and his most famous "ein kleines grüner cactus". We could laugh with the Germans in some places, but not all of course.

The show did have a "Pause" and we wandered a bit and bought some "barely drinkable" red wine and a Sekt.

However, the bar at Admirals-Palast looked good, with a broader range of drinks than normal including half litre bottles of weissbier. Hey, it is Germany after all...

We left Admirals-Palast close to 10.30pm very satisfied after about 2 hours of a great performance. Max Raabe & Palastorchester are truly professional and it seemed like they has great fun themselves performing.

So, once again at Friedrichstraße station...

We decided to round up a great night out with a hot Glühwein with a schoss outside of our local Hackescher Markt station. Another fun and satisfying day in Berlin, good night now.

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