It's been 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In January 2012, armed with my trusty paper map of Berlin, I set out to see as much of the wall's remains as possible.
Here are my pictures of the Berlin Wall, taken by yours truly in January 2012.
I was just reading about U of T banning a poster promoting The Black-Jew Dialogues, a comedy show "designed to build inter-racial bridges and shatter cultural stereotypes".
In Berlin, they seem a little less sensitive to perceived racist posters. A few weeks ago, while walking the streets of Berlin, I saw a poster promoting Ich bin nicht Rappaport at the Schlosspark Theater. I did a double-take when I saw the poster, because it featured a white man in blackface.
Forevermore, when I see someone in blackface, I think about the Montreal Subbanator fans and the awesome discussion it sparked. The history of blackface conjures up an immense amount of all-to-recent racist history. Blackface has a racist history, and when white people paint their faces black, it is always racist.
U of T may have overreacted. Berlin prefers to underreact.
The Reichstag in Berlin is where German parliament (the Bundestag) meets. When they reconstructed it, they added a large glass dome at the very top of the building.
I was lucky enough to have dinner in the Reichstag and that gave me a chance to climb this dome and check out the city from above.
Here's what it looked like inside. Those seats belong to the Bundestag.
Here's what the Reichstag looks like from outside.
This was the first time I needed my passport to get into a restaurant.
Patrolling the Brandenburg Gate these days is a leader from a truly evil empire.
Here's the photographic evidence before you jump to conclusions.
I certainly thought twice before crossing over.
I spent some time last night planning my sightseeing in Berlin, mapping my route and making sure I hit as many historical sights as possible.
I wanted to do it all by foot. No sightseeing tour buses or taxi cabs for me. After a big breakfast, I hit the pavement at exactly 9am, armed only with my Canon PowerShot. Here are some of the highlights.
Brandenburger Tor / Brandenburg Gate
This is the only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered. Regan made his "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" speech here.
Sowjetisches Ehrenmal / Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten)
This memorial commemorates the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
Reichstag / Parliament Building
The German Empire stopped using this building in 1933 when it was severely damaged in a fire.
Siegessaule / Victory Column
This commemorated the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War.
Ehmalige Kongresshalle / Former Congress Hall
This is now known as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt where they have concerts and other cultural stuff.
Bundeskanzleramt / Chancellor's Office
This new Chancellery building is eight times the size of the White House. That's a fact, you can look it up.
Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer / Berlin Wall Memorial
I walked the farthest to see what's left of the Berlin Wall. You can't visit Berlin without checking out the wall.
Topographie Des Terrors / Topography of Terror
This was pretty chilling. it's the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.
This was the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.
If you want more, I documented the entire walk here:
In Berlin, there's a thin line between wholesome and seedy.
I wandered the streets tonight, exploring the Berlin underbelly. As you'd expect, there's an active street walker scene and numerous options for those craving the erotic.
What's interesting is how seamlessly you walk from the Erotik-Museum to giant kid-friendly snowman. They're side-by-side.
For the record, I didn't purchase services from either the prostitutes nor snowmen, but I can't pass by a museum without going in!
While in Germany, I wanted to enjoy some of that Bavarian culture we know from Oktoberfest. At Zum Haxnwirt, it's all about the beer and huge hunks of pork.
I sense wild boars were captured on the streets of Berlin and baked into schweinshaxe for my benefit. The knuckle of pork on my plate was absolutely massive. I think I ate this guy.
Oh... and they sold these out of a vending machine.
In Berlin, parking is scarce. People will park anywhere they can fit their car.
No wonder there are so many Smart cars. You can park them in the tightest of spots.
Oh... and Batman is here.
I haven't done a very good job posting my daily photo, but I should have more luck this week. Today's photo will give you a clue as to why.
I took this photo just before landing in Berlin, Germany. It was a connector flight from Frankfurt full of turbulence and chocolate. That's right, Lufthansa was unable to give us our usual snacks so they placated us with awesome German chocolate.
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