Pick your poison

As I write this, it’s simultaneously thundering, pouring, and hailing out. It’s typical Berlin summer weather. It’s rained every day this week, and will rain every day until my departure for the greener pastures of Washington, DC, on Monday.

Only are they greener? On no day this week does the high temperature in Berlin come within ten degrees of the low temperature in DC. What’s better, sweltering with frequent sun or cool with no sun at all? Guess I’ll soon find out.

No, but there are many things to look forward to in DC, and just as many to miss in Berlin. Don’t worry, a sappy retrospective post is on its way….

Teufelsberg, for real

Back in October, a friend and I took an impromptu trip out to the Teufelsberg to catch a pretty sunset. But we hiked up the wrong hill and were only able to see the famous old spy station from a distance.

At last, I’ve righted that wrong. Another friend was in town, so I dragged him onto the S-Bahn, into the woods, through a hole in the barbed-wire fence, and into the technically-sealed-off Cold War listening post.

Here’s what we found:

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It is June…

…and this afternoon I wore a winter coat and a hat as I walked through my neighborhood. Thanks, Berlin.

A stroll through the Tiergarten

Two weeks ago, a travel website named this blog one of the top Berlin blogs, citing my “fresh” views on German culture and Berlin. Since then, I’ve done everything in my power to disprove this notion by ceasing to post anything new.

I’ll try to remedy that, starting with a post that’s admittedly not terribly fresh.

On a beautiful Saturday several weeks ago, a friend and I took a stroll through the Tiergarten, Berlin’s second-largest park (behind the former Tempelhof airport) and certainly its grandest. The park is full of little treasures. One of my favorites is the memorial to gay Holocaust victims, an anonymous-looking box that curious (and sometimes homophobic, or at least not very homosexuality-exposed) visitors approach and peer into, only to back away in shock as they see a video of same-sex couples making out vigorously.

That doesn’t lend itself very well to photography. But this does:

If you look closely, you’ll see the word “love” inscribed along the central polished ribbon of this beautiful stone in different languages. That’s because it’s the love stone. Sounds innocent enough — except that it’s maybe the most controversial rock in the world.

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Reflections on a modern art museum

A snippet of the Gerhard Richter exhibit in the Neue Nationalgalerie and the 19th-century St. Matthäuskirche:


Who knew etchings could be so cool?

Giovanni Batista Piranesi, evidently. The 18th-century Italian artist had a vivid imagination and a sharp knife. Here are a couple of samples of what he was able to do with them, as seen in Berlin’s Kulturforum. Zoom in to see all the tiny little carved lines that make up the images.

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What makes Berlin different from all other EU capitals?

(Hey, it’s still Passover for another night.)

But here’s your answer:

(click to enlarge)

Germany is the only EU country whose capital region is poorer than the rest of the country. Compare it to the UK, where Londoners have almost three times the purchasing power of the average UK resident.

Poor but sexy, as they say….

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