To Kreutzberg... That wasn't...
Di headed out early to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) to collect our Berlin Cards from the Tourist Info Centre. Hans had already once unintentionally been to this station when doing his mammoth 42 hour journey from Stockholm to London during our Icelandic volcano episode in 2010. So he had no need to see it again just yet...
The Berlin Cards seemed like good value as they allow us unlimited travel for 5 days until Sunday midnight anywhere around greater Berlin and with discounted entry to many sights and attractions.
The tourist info centre within the Hbf where the cards were purchased is on the left of this entry.
Di was just happy to stand in the sunshine for a while and enjoy the views...
...but that didn't last long (the sunshine that is...). This is a view opposite Hbf towards the parliament area.
As part of the old West Berlin there is less building going on and more formal parks and road systems. It reminded Di of Canberra, except for large groups of tourists lining up to get into Parliament House, Der Bundestag. Our capital in Australia doesn't get quite the same volume of visitors.
You know the Berliners love to grill a wurst when they have this sign near the grass out the front of Der Bundestag.
And on the other side, about 20 metres away are old east Berlin buildings in the expected brutal architecture...
The river Spree in Berlin is not always picturesque but it looked good from this angle back towards Der Bundestag (Hans took a very similar photo yesterday).
The view below looked very familiar...for fans of Bourne movies...
In the movie "Bourne Supremacy", Bourne is being chased by Berlin Polizei and jumps onto a barge then uses a hook underneath this bridge to get himself off the barge and onto the train platform.
Di got onto the train platform in a more conventional way.
Hans relaxed at home as Di returned for coffee and a late breakfast.
After some research and discussion and "what to do" (as there is too much to do in Berlin...) we headed out to Kreuzberg. Our only problem Google Maps said it was one location and the Tourist Map said another. So we took a punt and went to a U station, Schönleinstraße, to the east of the general area.
We had heard that the Kreuzberg area used to be very poor, was now becoming more gentrified but still overall had more migrants and lower income people.
The Schönleinstraße station certainly validated that feeling...it takes some dedication to graffiti escalator steps during the few seconds ride to the top.
This is how we explored, going westward along the canal then heading south and east again. As you can see, Kreuzberg using Apple Maps is slightly to the northwest from where we were walking.
Playground for kiddies? The mini soccer field with high fences and lots of graffiti did not look too enticing to parents with young children but perhaps teenagers love it...
Walking a little bit further brings you to a canal (which we think is named Landwehrkanal, Google / Apple. Maps are not always clear) and some lovely older apartment blocks. Yep, gentrification is underway here...
...but in constant battle with graffiti. This guy was repainting shutters and doors.
The building to the right had hardly any graffiti (as they got rid of ground floor walls and replaced with pylons) and comparing it to the orange building on the left the strategy seems to work.
BTW, our thoughts on how to avoid getting graffiti (hopefully) are that you do either one of three things:
- Build as per above
- Get an artist to do a mural or very nice graffiti art
- Have something grow up on the wall; vines etc
The Landwehrkanal canal path on the northern edge. Very pleasant strolling in the sun.
Not many people here, but plenty of swans. Quite peaceful.
Then we ran out of path...
A new development/renovation caught out eye as it sounded quite paternalistic of the EU to be working on a youth centre here. Of course it will provide new walls for graffiti...
A self portrait further along the canal path. Why is Di not looking...?
Some stretches were very picturesque...including Hans...not...
And Di still enjoying the autumn leaves...
...But then you round a corner and see this!
Hallesches Tor is not a very attractive train station. To their credit it appears that some maintenance is being done but it may take quite a lot of time and money to beautify.
A late lunch time and we were on the hunt for some cafes...but we ended up with wurst...again.
For 1.20€ you got a long bratwurst in a small roll with mustard. Very tasty. Bargain. We were hooked.
While eating we realized that they had a petition to have the business stay open here. After 40 years some bureaucrat had other ideas. Hans liked the wurst, and this tradition of quick tasty cheap food on the run, and signed up as he felt that was his civic duty to do so.
Then for extra support Hans ordered some Pommes with Mayo (they looked fresh and good ...and were!)
A quick loo break at the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek library for Di while Hans tried out another cheap food option...but the 40cent library espresso coffee from a vending machine was thrown out after a few sips.
We turned south east, still in search of the funky Kreuzberg area we had heard about.
This gateway between 2 apartments on the way caught out eye - so formal and typical of something pre WWII in Berlin - and it's just to a pump station for the canal.
Heading further south towards Südstern, we decided to walk away from Urbanstraße, which is the main drag, south on Fontanepromenade.
We suddenly stumbled onto a nice looking historical building that was available for rent, however, it turned out to once have been the Jewish forced labour centre in Berlin.
Jews had to come here to be allocated hard, dirty manual labour during the war. More information is included of the English section of the sign board, which you can read in the second photo.
Now who would want to rent it? Well for a while the forgiving guys at the Church of the Latter Day Saint took it on but they've been gone 2 years...
Information about the "labour exchange" on Fontanepromenade.
This church at Südstern really stands out with its spire. Di tried to open any of its doors but they were all locked up. Still Südstern Kirche looked good.
Gentrification has arrived in Südstern...Gneisenaustraße is a very nice boulevard with a middle section that puts Unter den Linden to shame.
No sight of the presumably funky arty heart of Kreuzberg as we were not quite on the mark, yet we did like what we saw and particularly the contrasts, but we decided to call it quits for today by walking back to where we started our walk from Schönleinstraße station.
Once home we did a sort of stocktake on what we have seen and what we would like to see in Berlin and we decided to extend our stay in Berlin and give Dresden and Nuremburg a miss, giving us 6 more days as we will be in München for Sunday 24 November.
Booking done, but we will have to move to another apartment of Leipziger Straße, 19th floor studio, as our current apartment is not available for next week. Oh well, the sacrifices... :-)
Dinner at home for the first time in a Berlin, nachos.
Very nice indeed as we can't recall having had oven baked nachos since we arrived in Europe. Unfortunately, the "hot" salsa we bought was anything but, and instead was very sweet. Mental note of that one. Thankfully, we had a chili grinder which we made much use of. The wine probably helped too.
All good in Berlin as we settle for another night. Tomorrow night, we will see Max at Admirals-Palast. Can't wait. Good night.