A view of Berlin towards the Brandenburg Gate from the Victory Column, June 2008

Berlin, an Angel’s Eye View

For today’s 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a shot taken from the observation deck of the Berlin Victory Column towards the Brandenburg Gate. To the right is Potsdamer Platz, a major square that sat desolate for the 28 years that the wall stood.

Built in 1873 and moved to its present site in 1939, the tower measures 67m high from its base to the top of the bronze sculpture of Victoria. A fairly steep ascent up a spiral staircase, covering 285 steps, affords spectacular views of the city in all directions. It’s no wonder that it was a favorite hangout for the angels from Wim Wenders’ 1987 film, Wings of Desire. A trailer from one of the most beautiful films of the 1980s (and 90s) is below.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 300th (!!) straight, was snapped on 02-Jun-2008.


Silhouette of the Brandenburg Gate

Atop the Brandenburg Gate

Today’s Pic de Jour is a silhouette of the quadriga that tops Berlin’s emblematic Brandenburg Gate, a four-horse chariot driven by Victoria, the Roman Goddess of victory. The chariot was sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow, and the gate completed in 1792. At a quick glance it appears that each of the horses are galloping in a different direction.

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Line and Shape From Across the Planet – a Series in 15 Photos

The #FriFotos theme for this week is ‘Geometric’, which sent me to the archives looking for lines and shapes that I found to be slightly unconventional. That search was whittled down to this selection of fifteen taken over the past five years in ten countries.

The first two are among my personal favorites: the ground up view from the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (top) and the Graffiti stairway in Sarajevo (below).  Enjoy!

Graffiti Stairs, Sarajevo, June 2011

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer (or, Chasing Usain)

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is summer; for the past several that has meant chasing Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man.

This was taken from my press seat when he returned to the track a few hours after his 100 meters world record at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin where he clocked an otherworldly 9.58 seconds. A quick breakdown of what that means more precisely: Bolt covered the distance in 41 total strides at 4.28 strides per second, his average speed was 37.6 kilometers per hour, and he reached a peak speed of just under 46 Km/H.

If you’re a fan, here’s another pic I posted of Bolt taken a year ago after a race in Ostrava, Czech Republic. All things considered, it’s my favorite shot of Bolt. A few more are on my flickr stream here.

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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':

  • 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.

Among EU Capitals, Berlin’s Roads the Safest, Ljubljana’s Most Dangerous

Finally, something beyond my anecdotal rants about the maniacs that are on the roads in Slovenia.

According to a study of accident rates in EU capitals released Wednesday by the European Transport Safety Council, Berlin has the safest roads in 2007, with 1.64 deaths per 100,000 residents, just ahead of –oui, c’est vrai!– Paris, with 1.70 per 100,000.

Bottoming out the list was Ljubljana, which tallied 12.98 fatalities per 100,000, edging Vilnius, Lithuania, which scored 12.09 last year.

The safest of the safest? Maltese capital Valletta, which hasn’t seen a death on the road since 2001.

In pure numbers, Athens witnessed the largest number of deaths last year with 226, just ahead of London with 222.

Overall, the number of deaths in the capitals fell from 1,881 in 2006 to 1,560 last year.

Lausanne 027, originally uploaded by pirano.

September pic(k)s

September was brutal. Between the 1st and 26th I spent just four nights at home while bopping between eight countries across seven time zones. I’m still recovering. And I also took nearly a 1000 pictures.

This one, of a woman enjoying a smoke break from the tedium of her job, was taken in Zurich, and I remember being really pissed off when the car went by. So the result was quite a pleasant surprise. The rest of my personal faves shot during the month are here.

Previous personal pick pics – [August] [July] [June] [May] [April] [March] [February] [January]

Radium theatre (Zurich 04), originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Berlin

Motzstraße 7

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.