On Saturday, whilst en route to Newcastle Airport, we were hit with the news of a delayed flight – meaning our plans for a big first night sampling Berlin’s nightlife were replaced by two empty bars and a shared Boots meal deal.
But all was not lost, we arrived in Berlin and jumped straight on the U-Bahn to our hotel. It took no time at all for team leader Mark to hunt down the closest sky bar, the obnoxious interior of lime green, red leather and too much chrome was exactly what we needed as an introduction to the city.
Sunday morning wasn’t the smoothest of operations, both myself and the itinerary had slept in and there were a couple hangovers looming from the night before. Reunited at Potsdamerplatz we set off for what was to be a day of fascinating architecture, culture and incessant rain. A round trip of the architectural greats, Van Der Rohe, Scharoun, Gropius, Foster, Gehry and Eisenmann moulded our day, with highlights at the Bauhaus Archive, Reichstag and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. From the offset, it was clear to see just how big an impact Berlin’s traumatic past has influenced the city we see today.
Having dried off at the hotel we set off for dinner and in search of some nightlife. We were tipped by a local waiter that the Carnival of Cultures was set to take place this weekend so that was the obvious choice. Mix live European techno music with €1.50 beers, hundreds of food stalls, an amateur balloon artist and the result is something special.
The following day with the sun shining, we made our way to Museum Island and the Neues Museum, reconstructed by Chipperfield and Harrap. Perhaps the architectural highlight of our trip, this building beautifully illustrates an abhorrent history connected by rich, elegantly crafted materials, which create spaces you only dream of reading about. The attention to detail was truly inspiring. Considered room by room, surface by surface, the architect’s response to the varying decay found in each was clear.
Following Museum Island, we made our way across to East Side Gallery, stopping off at a small haven named Holzmarkt. Projects like this self built community which encapsulate craft and creativity are becoming more popular within the city. We enjoyed our brief refuel stop by the river and the disco box. Dinner that night was at a typical Bavarian restaurant with big plates and big steins – a must for any tourist in Germany.
On Tuesday, with the flight home ahead of us, we prioritised the Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind. Becoming a landmark in the city, this building utilises space and atmosphere in telling the Jewish story throughout the Nazi regime. Instead of reading memoirs and following narration, the axis level allows its visitors to experience the three life journeys of a Jew during WWII: exile, holocaust and continuity. It was a moving experience which allows the users to come to their own conclusions in a more sensory manner.
Our time here led us to question the city’s identity, recovery from the heavy WWII bombings and cultural separation seems to weigh more heavily on Berlin than other European capitals. More recently known for its liberation and creativity, it has become a major hub for young professionals in Europe which makes this place so diverse and unique.
Thank you to Ryder for the opportunity.