The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin (Pic du Jour)

I’ve posted this image of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial before, but thought it appropriate to share again on the occasion of today’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The memorial, whose official name is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is a powerful and unsettling reminder of the horrors humanity is capable of.

Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, it covers a space of 19,000 square meters one block south of the Brandenburg Gate in the German capital’s Friedrichstadt neighborhood and was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, 60 years after the end of the World War II.

Never forget.

Photo taken on 17-Sep-2007

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Weekly Sunday Drive – 60-second Trabant Tour

When I was a kid growing up in the U.S. midwest, Sunday afternoons were oftentimes about drives. Usually into the nearby countryside east of Cleveland, much of which has long since devolved into developments with monstrously enormous homes. It was the same for a colleague Edwin, who grew up in the former East Berlin. But his drives weren’t enjoyed from the back seat of a 1969 Ford LTD. He and his three younger sisters were squeezed into the back of an early 1970s Trabant, similar to the one in the video above.

He didn’t tell me how long his parents waited before their legendary DDR limousine was finally delivered, but my guess is that when it did, they held on to it for some time. The average lifespan of the vehicle was an astounding 28 years. I’ll ask him next time I see him.

Officially it went from zero to 100kph/62 mph in 21 seconds and emitted four times as much pollution as the average car in Europe at that time. In all, 3,096,099 rolled off the assembly line. The one above wound up at the Historiale Berlin Museum and four wound up hanging in a U2 display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (pictured below). I have no idea what happened to the rest.

Anyone want to describe the riding experience?

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Berlin Quickie

Here’s a 4min&8sec vidblog from Berlin, the latest in my small –but growing!– Piran Cafe City Quickie series.

Berlin has long been on my short-short list of favorite European capitals – I’ve visited about a dozen times over the past eight years and always feel revitalized by the city’s unique energy.

These videos are not trying to be all-encompassing ‘destination’ pieces. They’re simply short visual notebooks from the road, shot quickly from the hip and then quickly-edited, attempting to provide a modest portrayal of a certain place at a certain time. Please let me know if, and when, I succeed.

Shots from 9-12-Sep-2011.

A few quick note on a few of the ‘cameo appearances’:

  • German Piratenpartei, or Pirate Party. In the 2011 Berlin State elections, held on the weekend following my visit, the party took 9% of the vote and won 15 seats in the Abgeordnetenhaus, or State Parliament, of Berlin. [Engilish wiki] [Party website][PPI - International collective]
  • Andrea Fischer, former member of the German Bundestag, campaigning for the Green Party at the Brandenburg Gate. The Greens took 11.6% of the vote, upping their number of seats by seven to 30.

This episode’s epilogue is at the Marx-Engels-Forum featuring some Asian tourists.

And the cool soundtrack is Yes, Inform by Christopher Mollineaux Carson aka Throcke from his album Sometimes not Unpoinful. Check out more of his work. (CC/Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License)

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Previous City Quickies:
~ Lille, France
~ Sarajevo (a series of timelapses, actually)
~ Rabat
~ Ljubljana (a 40min bike tour sped up and condensed to just over 5min)
~ Doha’s West bay area

Five Minutes to Midnight

This is a detail from Slovenia’s offering to the United Buddy Bears exhibit that was on display on the Ku’damm in Berlin from 26 June through 3 October.

Said Berlin-based Slovenian artist Marjan Kekec-Ogradni who painted the bear:

Our unique globe is composed by the four elements air, water, fire and earth. The increasing exploitation of our nature and the growing number of wars is an immense threat for our planet. If we want the earth to continue to be worth living on, we have to act quickly, as it’s already five to twelve. Representing this apocalypse is Death on the front of my bear.

Man can work against this apocalypse using his heart and his courage. The first commandment should be practising tolerance in dealing with our environment and our fellow human beings. A global human line under the flag of tolerance could be a first and important step towards the common preservation of our planet.

A few more pics of Ogradni and his bear are here. Ogradni’s website is here.

June Pic(k)s

Spotted these gems at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof on a busy Monday morning on my way out. Crisis or not, I could easily find better ways to spend €30 or €50.

Anyway, they made me chuckle, so they made the cut for my personal favorite pics shot in the merry month of June.

This along with a few others shot in Berlin, Ostrava and Pardubice, Czech Republic, along with Idrija and Svetina, Slovenia, are included here.

Previous pic(k)s of the month: [May 09] [Apr 09] [Mar 09] [Feb 09] [Jan 09] [2008]

Berlin 040, originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Berlin

Sachsenhof
Motzstraße 7
Berlin

Stayed 4 nights, 15-19-Sep 2007

Roomy! Airy! I really enjoyed this place. Great location, just a short walk from the Nollendorfplatz U Bahn stop, nice neighborhood, and a sushi place across the street run by a friendly Vietnamese. Big minus is no internet access, but there’s a cheap internet cafe (open 8 am to midnight) just up the street. With advanced booking, as low as 50 EUR/night.

I shall (absolutely) return.

[A variety of booking links]

Sachsenhof-Berlin, originally uploaded by pirano.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

casanova.jpgLess than eight months after it opened, Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, Europe’s largest –and at a cost of €750 million (USD 900 million) certainly the continent’s most expensive– rail station, hit the headlines today after Storm Kyrill apparently knocked a two-ton steel girder from the building’s facade.

Only opened since May, officials wondered, wind storm notwithstanding, how something so new could begin falling apart so quickly. From Spiegel:

“In truth, something like that should never have happened,” said Berlin’s Interior Secretary Ehrhart Körting, in something of an understatement.

The station was closed and evacuated because of the storm at the time, so no injuries were reported.
 
berlin-station1.jpgWhile the merits of spending that kind of money on the station have been and continue to be argued, it’s not debateable that it’s an absolutely stunning metal and glass architectural gem spawning yet another example of impeccable German efficiency. When I passed through on an early September day –along with about 320,000 others on that Monday– I was struck by its immensity, and it’s locale: the Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz, the Federal Chancellery and the Holocaust Memorial are just a short stroll away, making it a destination in itself.

A few more pics:

berlin-station2.jpg   berlin-station3.jpg   berlin-station4.jpg

Some construction pics here and more about the station here