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Touring Berlin with my cousin V.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On Sunday, Feb 3, V. and I have breakfast with E., M. and L. at Barcomi’s Deli in the Gripshöfe. We say goodbye to the kids who were taking the train back to Osnabrück later that day. School beckons on Monday!

Volker and I hop on the 100 bus to take a cheap city tour of Berlin, passing by Unter den Linden with the most important classicist buildings: the Dome, the Residenzschloss of Emperor Wilhelm reconstruction, the German Opera, the German Historic Museum, the museums of the Museumsinsel, Humboldt University. Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Abgeordnetenhaus, Bellevue Castle which is the residence of the German President, various embassies, the Siegessäule, Schloss Charlottenburg. We get off on Kurfürstendamm to walk around.

We visit the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (beautiful place) but are soon disturbed by Karnival music pouring in from the street. We walk back out and there is a most pathetic Mardi Gras parade, compared to what we are used to from Cologne, a veritable bastion (“Hochburg”) of Karneval. I scream for candy with other bystanders, and the paraders throw some at us. It’s a nice nostalgic thing to get some candy, but the parade was truly pathetic. We then walk along Kurfürstendamm, where everything is closed, it being Sunday, but V. finds a few places he would like to check out for clothes or a man-purse on Monday.

We eventually catch a bus to the Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau.

After that, we criss-cross Berlin on the subway to go to Mehringdamm again, this time to eat the famous Currywurst 36. And it was $2 for a 0.5 L bottle of Warsteiner! I want to cry. I didn’t, but I finished my half litre of Warsteiner on the subway on the way home — partly because I couldn’t drink it fast enough, and partly to experience drinking beer on the subway. Which is completely legal here.

Around 7:30 we head home so I can work, but we have a long conversation with each other and with Jeff, and I don’t get to work until 10 pm.

Gripshöfe Berlin

In the Gripshöfe Berlin, a privately owned series of courtyard buildings which is open to the public. Barcomi’s Deli is one of the courtyards, as well as various pieces of public art.

Berlin manhole cover

Berlin manhole cover.

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche, Berlin

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche, Berlin.

The Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg

At the Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg.

The Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg

The Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg.

The Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg

A painting by Jean Lambert-Rucki from the 1920s at the Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg.

The Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg

At the Bröhan Museum of Art Nouveau, Berlin-Charlottenburg.

Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin

Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin was modelled after Versailles.

Beriln subway signage

Beriln subway signage.

Beriln subway signage

Beriln subway signage.

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My cousin and my favourite teenagers come to Berlin

Posted on Feb 3, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On February 2, my cousin V. from Cologne arrives at 8 a.m. the morning at Tegel airport. I pick him up and we drop off his suitcase, then head out to Bonanza Coffee Heroes for great coffee and one of the best croissants we’ve ever had, then to Hackescher Markt to walk around.

We saw a cool Berlin street band, Rupert’s Kitchen Orchestra. They played high energy funk music, on a traffic island in the middle of the road, just like you see in the above video. Very infectious. But I was dragging by then, exhausted from having to get up at 7 a.m., and had to go home to lie down for two hours, so I left my cousin alone for a while.

Then we had coffee and cake at Nina’s in the afternoon. We also got a tour of her neighbour’s great apartment with ceiling ornaments that he is having restored and painted.

Then we met my teenage friends E., M. and L. (not related to my cousin) for Tibetan dinner on Mehringdamm, which was great. After that V. and I went to the Berlin Ska City Festival from 9 pm until about 12:30 am.

Then home. Bed. Sleeeeep!

Graffiti in a courtyard near Hackesche Höfe

Graffiti in a courtyard near Hackesche Höfe.

Graffiti in a courtyard near Hackesche Höfe

Graffiti in a courtyard near Hackesche Höfe.

Graffiti in a stairway near Hackesche Höfe

Graffiti in a stairway near Hackesche Höfe.

Graffiti in a stairway near Hackesche Höfe

Graffiti in a stairway near Hackesche Höfe.

Berlin subway signage

Berlin subway signage.

Typical Berlin courtyard, art nouveau building in Charlottenburg

Typical Berlin courtyard, art nouveau building in Charlottenburg.

Art nouveau ceiling ornaments being refurbished in a Berlin Charlottenburg art nouveau apartment

Art nouveau ceiling ornaments being refurbished in a Berlin Charlottenburg art nouveau apartment.

Berlin Stolpersteine

Berlin Stolpersteine — these brass pavement plaques replace regular cobblestones. They carry the names of Jewish people who lived in the building near them and were murdered or died by suicide as a result of persecution by the Nazis. The stones are controversial with some Jewish and some non-Jewish people. The question is always how to create an appropriate reminder of the atrocities that respects the dignity of the victims and their families.

My favourite teenagers, E. and M. with E.'s boyfriend L., come to visit me in Berlin

My favourite teenagers, E. and M. with E.’s boyfriend L., come to visit me in Berlin!

Berlin Ska Festival Flyer

Berlin Ska Festival Flyer.

At the Berlin Ska Festival with my cousin V.

At the Berlin Ska Festival with my cousin V.

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Saying goodbye to G., getting ready for the next visitor

Posted on Feb 2, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On February 1, it was time to say goodbye to my friend G. We had a great time. I took her to Tegel airport and we had a light-hearted goodbye, because I will be back in Vancouver myself in just two weeks. We know we will see each other back home soon.

G. had seen a poster on the way to the airport announcing a showing of art by women of the Berlin Secession. I had not even heard of the Berlin Secession, so as I was taking the train back into Berlin, I googled it as well as the exhibit and found out it was at the Max Liebermann Villa in Berlin-Wannsee. I went to my Berlin public transit iPhone app which has been a fantastic tool for me here and quickly found the quickest train out there. Before I knew it, I was in Wannsee. Hurray for spontaneity!

The sad story of Max Liebermann is that his art was considered degenerate by the Nazis, he was forced from his official duties late in life, and he died in 1937, deprived of a dignified old age. After his death, in 1940, his widow had to sign over her home to the Nazis. In 1943, as she lay bedridden from a stroke, a letter arrived announcing her imminent deportation to a concentration camp the next day. She took an overdose of pills and died a few days later. It’s one of many tragic human stories of that time.

I felt a great sadness as I walked around this beautiful villa by the lake and thought of the many crimes against humanity committed not only by Nazis but around the world every day. There has got to be a small thing everyone of us can do to not let these things happen anymore. Maybe we can start by allowing the people around us to be themselves and not try to force our beliefs on them, be it a religious belief or the belief that you must not leave a pair of dirty socks on the floor for even an hour. We can also start by allowing ourselves to be ourselves and not be swayed by the opinions of others.

Later in the evening, I did some work and then cleaned the apartment because my cousin V. is arriving from Cologne early in the morning on February 2!

Berlin construction

There is still a lot of construction going on in Berlin.

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin.

Train station signage typography, Berlin-Wannsee

Train station signage typography, Berlin-Wannsee.

Wannsee, Berlin

Wannsee, Berlin. A very 50s-looking shopping strip.

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee.

Study by Clara Sievert

A study by Clara Sievert. I know a bit about drawing, and this is just an amazing sketch. The hands and the expression look convincing, the billowing skirt, the shadows, the weight of the whole pose are fantastic.

Dora Hitz painting

“Grape Harvest” by Dora Hitz, 1910. Since I did not know anything about the Berlin Secession, I also did not know about the women of the Berlin secession. I was glad to see that women were included, anyway. As the brochure explained, women in Germany in the late 19th century were not allowed to attend universities. So female artists had to go to private “schools for ladies” to learn what they needed. It follows that men were the only ones teaching the women at these schools. So it would have been difficult for women to find role models of their own gender. A problem that is more common than you’d think, even today.

Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee

The lake view from the Max Liebermann Villa, Berlin-Wannsee.

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Huge day of sightseeing in Berlin

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

button

G. found a great button that says “Ride on without me.” Seems quite apropos after the big day we had.

January 31 was G.’s last full day in Berlin. We had a huge brunch at Cafe Anna Blume to strengthen ourselves for a giant day of sightseeing. We then toured the East Side Gallery Wall Museum, dropped by the Hackesche Höfe so that G. could pick up a few more souvenirs, we visited the Buchstabenmuseum, and then the Neue Nationalgalerie.

In the evening G. packed her suitcase and relaxed while I went to a gallery opening with Nina and then out for beer with her and her neighbour, who was from East Germany and told us about his five years in an East German prison. He said some shocking and astonishing things about how things worked and what he experienced.

This was probably the most packed day I had in Berlin in all of the three months I’ve been here. I have had the luxury of not cramming five things into one day. But it was a fun day and I did want to see all of these things too. I had put some of them off so I could do them with G.

Käthe Kollwitz sculpture

Sculpture of Käthe Kollwitz in the park named after her in Prenzlauer Berg. We walked by there after our huge breakfast at Anna Blume.

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall

Berlin posters

Berlin posters. These say “Life is not a subway stop” and intend to spread news about social programs and social support.

Buchstabenmuseum Berlin

At the Buchstabenmuseum Berlin.

Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

We made it to the Neue Nationalgalerie. You can not be in Berlin and avoid confronting its Nazi and its East German Communist pasts. There was a large exhibit on post-WWII art, both East and West German, showing how artists dealt with the fact of a horrible war and its aftermath in their work.

Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

The Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin was designed by Mies van der Rohe.

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Sauna day for me while G. tours Berlin

Posted on Jan 31, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

G. finds a souvenir

G. found a souvenir today, a placemat: “Is this art or can it be tossed?”

I went to the Meridian Spa in Spandau again and had another massage there. A nice strong young man worked me over pretty good. I really, really needed that. My back and shoulders are messed up.

I then met G. at home and we went to her cousin’s place for dinner. He lives in my neighbourhood and used to be a German Bundesliga soccer player. I forgot to get his autograph. We had a great time over a wonderful meal prepared by him and his wife/partner.

If any of my clients read this blog, they will start to figure out why I am not getting much of their work done.

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An actual work day, and a play by Tucholsky

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 29, I had to put in a work day while G. went shopping and sightseeing, or in the opposite order. Then we saw a play “Wir Negativen” by Kurt Tucholsky and went out for a cake and, you guessed it, Prosecco afterwards near the Hackesche Höfe in one of the neat bars under the U-Bahn tracks.

Kurt Tucholsky play

G. and I went to see a Kurt Tucholsky play performed by the Berliner Ensemble. It was excellent, but I got a bit annoyed at some giggly 20-year olds behind us and exchanged some words with them. Maybe I am not a 100% chilled-out Berliner yet.

Hackesche Höfe, Berlin

In the Hackesche Höfe, Berlin — a series of about 8 connected courtyards with shops and restaurants and offices.

Rocco bar, Berlin

The Rocco bar where we had our night cap is under the U-Bahn tracks at Hackescher Markt. You can hear the trains rolling over your head every few minutes. This is a 360-degree capture that I’ve flattened out.

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Brücke Museum and Bauhaus Archive

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 28, G. and I had a busy but very fun day. It was icy and sunny with crusty snow as we did our best to get lost on public transit. We went to Berlin Dahlem to visit the Brücke Museum, then zipped over to the Bauhaus Museum to learn how the various men who ran the show at the Bauhaus disagreed on its mission and teaching philosophy. But it was very interesting and definitely a highlight for us graphic designers to visit this cradle of modern design.

In the evening I got to try a Turkish restaurant in Kreuzberg I had wanted to check out called Defne (it was great!), and afterwards we had apple tea and a sweet dessert at another Turkish restaurant. No Prosecco!

Painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Painting “Female Artist”, 1910, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at the Brücke Museum in Dahlem, Berlin.

Berlin U-Bahn station signage

More of the cool Berlin U-Bahn station signage.

Bauhaus Archive

The entry sign at the Bauhaus Archive.

Bauhaus Archive

A weird decorative-looking pole at the Bauhaus Archive. I don’t know if this has any function other than to be phallic, but it better not just be form, or this would not be the Bauhaus.

Bauhaus Archive

Various posters relating to the Bauhaus Archive.

Bauhaus Archive

The Bauhaus Archive at dusk as we are leaving.

Bauhaus Archive

The Bauhaus Archive sign glows as we are leaving at dusk.

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Paying a visit to Dr. Sketchy

Posted on Jan 28, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

January 27 was a good day because a Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin event was held at the co-working space ESDIP Berlin in the Grünberger Höfe in Berlin Friedrichshain. I had not expected to catch another Dr. Sketchy’s during my stay here, but this was an extra event.

Two hours of drawing four models turned into three hours. DJ UFO Hawaii, aka Künstler Treu, and Lala Vox hosted again. I met two of the Berlin urban sketchers, Katrin and Peter there, as well as some new people.

In the evening, G. and I went to see a German movie and then spent a couple of pleasant hours in a bar next door, over Prosecco and nachos. What happens in Prosecco, stays in Prosecco.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing. I don’t know about you, but I can hear the tune “Life is a cabaret” by Liza Minnelli when I look at this woman.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing.

Dr. Sketchy's Berlin drawing

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin drawing.

Grünberger Höfe, Berlin Friedrichshain

The Grünberger Höfe in Berlin Friedrichshain where the Dr. Sketchy’s was held.

Der Schlussmacher

Der Schlussmacher (“The Breakup Professional”), a German comedy that G. and I saw and drank Prosecco during and after.

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More touring Berlin with G.

Posted on Jan 27, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

We finished the bus tour prematurely because after getting off at Checkpoint Charlie, we started walking along Friedrichstrasse and meandering through shops and boutiques which seemed to make time pass very quickly. We bought a few things.

In the evening we made it to the Berlinische Galerie to see an exhibit on photography in the GDR until they closed at 10 p.m. Around 11 p.m. I dragged G. into Weinstein, a wine bar in my neighbourhood, and we had Prosecco and olives there.

We went to bed around 2:00 a.m. Sooner or later, I usually manage to drag people into my late-night lifestyle when they hang out with me.

At Checkpoint Charlie

At Checkpoint Charlie

Chocolate Berlin TV Tower

Chocolate Berlin TV Tower in the Fassbender & Rausch chocolate shop at Gendarmen Markt.

Inside the German Dome on Gendarmenmarkt

Looking up inside the German Dome at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin. There is a parliamentary museum in this dome now.

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

The Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin is probably the most spectacular square in Berlin, full of classicist architecture. And therefore not that interesting to me. I get much more excited about either modern architecture, or decrepit industrial buildings.

U-Bahn signage, Berlin

More Berlin U-Bahn signage.

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Reichstag visit and bus tour with my friend G.

Posted on Jan 26, 2013 in Berlin | 0 comments

On January 24, my German-Canadian friend and former business partner G. arrived from Vancouver. She gets a week off from parenting and a fun time in Berlin, I hope!

When we woke up on January 25, we witnessed a rare sunny day here in Berlin. I have been told by Berliners that this winter has been exceptionally dreary — not that I would have noticed. We hopped on the bus tour and stopped at Brandenburg Gate and to tour the Reichstag Cuppola. To some degree, this was a repeat of my sightseeing with Jeff. But instead of going through the Reichstag audio tour again, I did a sketch of it while G. followed the audio guide tour. The sketch is not worth showing here. I have a quality threshold below which I won’t show my drawings, even though it is very low.

We hopped back on the bus and got off on Kurfürstendamm where we visited the KaDeWe and may have gotten a bit side-tracked on shopping. I can’t remember what else we did except that we started the day with a large glass of Prosecco at breakfast, and there may have been more Prosecco consumed in the evening.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Berlin Reichstag

G. and I are touring the famous cupola of the Berlin Reichstag, designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Sculpture about German Reunification on Kurfürstendamm, Berlin

Sculpture about German Reunification on Kurfürstendamm, Berlin.

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