Posted on Nov 24, 2012 in Berlin | 0 comments

I did not have an emergency, I just had to get my signature certified by a consular officer for a legal document that I had to complete and send back home to Vancouver. But I thought I might as well look around to make sure they spend my tax dollars wisely. Of course, I did have to pay €40 per document — apparently my tax dollars do not cover that. I had to go through a metal detector at the entrance, and also had to surrender my cell phone for the duration of my visit. It was locked up and I was given a metal token, just like in a coat check.

The embassy is only open for public business from 9–12 every week day, so I am making a mental note to not have an emergency outside of those hours.

On the 3rd floor, where the consular services are located, the agent was behind thick bulletproof glass. It was a bit hard to hear her. Between the two doormen on the ground floor and the two agents in consular services, I detected zero Canadians — all of these staff appeared to be either German or of another linguistic background.

I did use the very spiffy, clean toilet with Grohe flush apparatus before I left. Since there was no fee for that, I feel I got at least 50 cents of my tax money back.

Canadian embassy lobby

The lobby of the Canadian embassy in Berlin. They would not allow me to take photos even in the lobby, so I pressed my camera against the glass from the outside. I know I shouldn’t expect much fuzzy love from government agencies, but the downright inhumanity of their “procedures before people” approach is always a bit chilling.

Canadian embassy in Berlin

The Canadian embassy in Berlin. It could be worse. It could look like the one in Washington DC which is a claustrophobic fortress.

Sony Center Berlin

After my embassy errand, I rented a City Bike and cycled back towards home. I got a bit lost at first and went through the Sony Center Berlin by accident — a large covered plaza with an interesting dome structure, very striking.

In the Tiergarten Park, Berlin

Cycling through the Tiergarten Park, Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate from the Tiergarten Park, Berlin

Brandenburg Gate from the Tiergarten Park, Berlin

Cycling through the Brandenburg Gate

Cycling through the Brandenburg Gate towards the TV Tower.

German Christmas pyramids are dominating the shopping landscape.

German Christmas pyramids are a common sight in the shopping landscape at this time of year.

Faculty of Law, Berlin

Faculty of Law and Law Library, Berlin. I was convinced this was the opera and tried to pick up a ticket in here. But they pointed me across the plaza. After a while, one neo-classical building looks like the next.

Crossing the Schlossbrücke with view of the Berlin Dom and the TV Tower

Crossing the Schlossbrücke with view of the Berlin Dom and the TV Tower. It’s the first full sunny day in Berlin since I got here 8 days ago.

Altes Museum, Berlin

Altes Museum, Berlin. It houses the antique collection.

Dip dyed hair

I like to experiment with my hair colour. This woman’s dip dyed hair looks great.

Soviet-style building, Alexanderplatz, Berlin

I like all the soviet-style buildings on Alexanderplatz so much more now that they no longer represent an all-powerful, oppressive regime.

Dirndls, Berlin, Germany

Dirndls are for sale even in Berlin, which is far from Bavaria, where dirndls are the traditional dress. But these days many German women own a dirndl, if only to attend the local Octoberfest. I think it is mostly ironic, a bit like a costume, to put one of these on, unless you live in a small Austrian village like many of my cousins do.

Worker sculpture

A fine example of a socialist-realist sculpture of a proud worker.