26 September 2010

Painting the town

A couple years ago a friend advised me that Berlin is not a city to see in a couple days, but more like a week or two. With this suggestion I reserved 7 full days to tour this evolving city. From what I had read about it in travel books and online you can not pin this city down. It is one that you can visit in the year 2000 and then again in 2010, 2020, etc and it will be like a new place each time. Twenty years ago everything that I am about to say about this magnificent city would be unimaginable. The fall of the Berlin Wall has changed everything, not only in Berlin but in Germany and Europe.

The monuments and memorials in Berlin are innumerable. Reminders of the past are everywhere to emphasize the horrors and insure they will not be repeated. Brandenburg Gate. East Side Gallery. Topography of Terror. Checkpoint Charlie. Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. The list goes on.

These things are not to overshadow the new and innovative things that have popped up in Berlin. The renovated Reichstag (Parliamentary Building) is something to brag about. 
Don't even get me started on the food. I've fallen in love with the gooey worm-like potato pasta Germans call spätzle. Try this with the traditional Berlin currywurst and you'll be in a food coma halfway through the meal. Or if you are eating on the cheap, you can live off the €3 döner kebap which originated in Berlin. Whatever your preference, you will not go hungry in Berlin. 

...or thirsty. Try a Berliner Pils or any of the other German beers on tap and you'll be satisfied. Jon and I became somewhat regulars at the Prater Biergarten where we drank Prater Pils or Radlers (sprite and Pils) with a side of bockwurst and bretzels.

Germans, especially the new generation, has embraced the idea of recycle and reuse-- antiques, that is. Flea markets and antique stores are easy to come by, as are hipsters wearing 50s fashion. Tokens of German life before and during the Soviet era can be an inexpensive and unique souvenir from Berlin. I fell in love with the atmosphere at the Flohmarkt in Mauer Park. Young Germans were buying and selling everything from antique cameras or clothes, to paintings and bicycles.

The new Berlin was inspiring but I'm intrigued by the past. I spent many days scouring East Berlin for signs of reconstruction and remanence of the past, taking in the things that will be forgotten in 50 years. Old buildings and walls are still scarred by war. A thick coat of graffiti masks the pain. Graffiti, graffiti everywhere!

7 days in Berlin was enough to make me want to come back and see the the new tags or the fresh coat of paint in years to come.

25 September 2010

Photo of the Week- First sign of Autumn in Berlin

Fall leaves decorate the maze-like Denkmal für di emordenten Juden Europas (Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe) in Berlin.

Pröst to Oktoberfest!

September 18th began the 3 week long drunkfest that is Oktoberfest in Munich. This year was the 200 year anniversary of this massive celebration that grows larger every year. This day has been much anticipated. Bavarians and tourists alike waited anxiously and quite grumpily reserving tables hours before the first keg was tapped at noon. As soon as the beer was flowing everyone instantly became friends and language barriers were a thing of the past. Just say Pröst and you are instantly Bavarian for the day. Surrounded by a sea of lederhosen and dirndls, I sat in my much sought after seat at the Augustiner Beer tent drinking Maß after Maß trying to keep up with the locals. I don't know who's idea it was to add carnival rides to the mix but I could only imagine the disasters that happen when drunk people and heavy machinery meet. Oktoberfest is an experience not to be missed. There's still time, Oktoberfest ends Oct 3rd.

01 September 2010

Guess what's for dinner

It's a wonderful feeling when you poke around between the vines and find veggies perfectly ripe and waiting to be made into a spectacular dish. I already have it planned... zucchini pancakes, zucchini bread, and herb-baked zucchini. As for the yellow summer squash, well the name says it all. It will be squashed.