It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A tour of Berlin: Art and Graffiti

Tuesday, the 27th of November was the first day that we met our tour guide, Carl (with a "C"). We met him in the lobby and had drinks and hors d'oeuvres that were like a dinner. Carl was Austrian and very entertaining. We met the other 34 people that would be on the tour with us. My sister and I were two of the six women that came from California.
The next morning we had breakfast and boarded our tour bus at 8:30 a.m. for a short Berlin City tour. This really helped orient us to the sights and gave me what I thought was a sense of direction and getting my bearings. I needed this because I was feeling very disoriented. Kind of detached and like a stranger in a strange land.
At around 11:00 a.m. some of us went on another tour to East Berlin. This was an option. My sister decided to stay at the hotel and rest.
 A local Berliner took us on this tour. She knew a lot of information, but she had a voice that was very hard to listen to. We saw many old buildings that were restored after the war. They were beautiful, but we rarely got out of the bus to take pictures because the weather was so awful.
 Finally we stopped where a long row of the Berlin Wall had been set up and artists were commissioned to paint each section with a political statement. This is called The East Side Gallery and it's on the Spree River. It is the largest open air gallery in the world.
The most famous of these paintings was created by Dinitri Vrubel in 1990. It's called, "My God, help me to survive this deadly love". It is a reproduction of a photo, in 1979.
The painting depicts Leonid Brezhnev (leader of the Soviets) and Erich Honecker (the East German President) in a fraternal embrace, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic. This iconic photo represents a sign of mutual support and an agreement to trade important goods. The painting was removed and redone by the artist in 1990 because of vandalism and graffiti.
Many of the paintings have been badly damaged.
Some of them were very interesting.

 The graffiti was so invasive that sometimes you couldn't tell what the artist had done and what was added.
 This painting, above, speaks for itself.
This one had wonderful color and interesting windows but that rabbit is not a happy rabbit and it's watching us with suspicion.
 "Free Palastina" was certainly not the intent of the artist, with these doves carrying the Brandenburg Gate, but it is all about peace, freedom and human rights so the message is there no matter who added what.
 "Blind Respect for Authority is the greatest enemy of truth" Einstein said this... not Lady Gaga.
This is me standing in front of a very strange painting. I'm freezing!! This was before I learned not to go outside without layers of clothing, gloves, a warmer hat and a bigger scarf. Look at this painting. It's very strange and I can feel its fear.
The saying below the painting translates to "Puppet of the remote Stucks ( "Stucks" didn't translate. )

Behind the row of street paintings was the River Spree and a beautiful bridge.
The "Floating Lounge" appeared to be a Hostel. How cool would that be to stay their for a while. We didn't have time to check this out. We had to get back to our bus and move on. Besides, we were REALLY COLD.





The next stop was the Check Point Charlie Museum. This is where I think that I may have picked up a "bug" of some kind. The museum was very small, very warm and we were all packed into it like sardines. Then we were back on the cold street.
There were two stories and lots of pictures of the Berlin Wall and the efforts people made to get to West Berlin. How would you like to be "luggage" in a Volkswagon Bug trunk? The museum was very interesting, but so filled with people, breathing on each other and very, very warm. Maybe that was a "special effect" for the tour. To let you get an idea how it would have been to be in a tunnel under the "death strip" during your escape to West Berlin. I couldn't wait to get outside.
Check Point Charlie was the most famous crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. If you are interested, read about this restriction of emigration here. It's amazing what people did to leave East Berlin.
Throughout the city of Berlin you can see where the "Wall" was in the city's streets and sidewalks.
A double row of cobblestones follows the invisible wall over the path of where it use to be, as a reminder of its existence during the Cold War.

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I have been sick since I got home. I thought it was a cold but it's a bit worse that a cold. Today I feel somewhat better.
Writing these posts is helping me sort out the trip. Reading about the places that we saw and learning the history of each place is allowing me to appreciate my trip more. It was a whirlwind of a tour and sometimes I would wake up and think, "Where I'm I?"  Having my sister with me was wonderful. She and I were great support for each other.
Next time I will tell you about our walk to the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, at night and  kind of going in the wrong direction. I, with my perfect sense of direction, got lost. Being on a bus is different than walking. I thought West was North. Yes. I was so sure. I will blame it on the rain clouds that didn't allow me to see where the sun was setting and , so, not getting my bearings.  But we survived.
... then I will move on to Leipzig and Dresden. 



4 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ugh i hope you feel better....germs are different everywhere you go so you probably just picked something up but...

love the graffiti pics....wow on their creative statements...smiles...at the guy looking at you in the pic of you..

feel better...

Madeline's Album said...

This was a great post. Very interesting. I enjoyed your photos and your story. Looking forward to more of your trip. Get to feeling better. Have a blessed day. Madeline

Kerry O'Gorman said...

When you see these walls and museums you realize how lucky we are in the West. Incredible paintings...you look cold!!
In Northern Ireland they still have the Peace Line in Belfast which is a wall with barbed wire along the top. It was very strange to think we need this in this day and age. They still lock the gates between the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods at 10 o'clock every night.

Charming Baglady said...

In Berlin, all that "art" and graffiti looks to me like there is still a lot of anger, fear and hate. I guess maybe that will only diminish after our generation has all died out. I think we are probably the last generation who can feel a direct tie to the war via parents who lived or died during it. But then again, there was a long period of suffering during the cold war so I imagine those feeling s will continue for awhile longer. "Puppet of the remote Stück’s"is a doozy. I don’t like looking at it. But that photo of YOU is sure cute!!