Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sightseeing in Berlin

One of the new cities for me that I was looking the most forward to  on this trip was Berlin.  I had two nights in the city, playing one show each night, and also was able to do some sightseeing with my couchsurfing hosts, Alice, Sophie, and Fachreddin.  The pictures from those city excursions are below.

As far as the shows go, both were amazing, and I was astounded with the Berlin audiences.  The first night I played at a place called Cafe Hilde.  For some reason, I had a really bad feeling about the gig beforehand, really felt it was going to be a bust.  The place ended up being packed with people who listened intently for the entire two sets.  And during set break and after the show, everyone I talked to said that they came out specifically because they had seen my name in the local music rag and took the time to listen to the music online beforehand.  It is a seriously amazing feeling to be in a gigantic city in a country you've never played in before, and have that sort of crowd, I felt very fortunate.  The next night was also an amazing gig and audience, and the venue was my couchsurfing hosts' flat.  More on that in my next post, for now enjoy Berlin...

Potsdamer Platz.  Before World War II this was Berlin's vibrant downtown, and became a no man's land afterwards as the Berlin Wall ran through the middle of it during the Cold War.  Since the fall of the wall, it has been transformed into an uber modern business and entertainment area.  This is the "ceiling" on the outdoors Potsdamer Platz, it kind of feels like you are in the middle of the Death Star or something.

The Brandenburg Gate.  The only one of Belin's old city gates still standing.  Napolean carried the equestrian statue on the top back to France with him, but it was later returned to Berlin.

The Reichstag, Germany's "capitol".  It was nearly burned to the ground in 1933, and this fire helped Hitler rise to power, as he blamed his political enemies, the communists.  Most historians think that Hitler himself ordered the burning.  It sat abandoned from the end of World War II until it was resurrected in the last decade or so, and now once again houses Germany's government.  It has a very elegant glass dome, but unfortunately I couldn't get a good vantage point to capture the whole building.

What is left of the Berlin Wall has been transformed into an art gallery.  Walking along the east side here would have been impossible 25 years ago, as guards and machine guns guarded its entire length.

A check point between east and west.

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