If Your Soul Has No Sunday, It Becomes An Orphan

The one thing which was a constant nagging worry while I was in Berlin was what am I going to do this Sunday?

Because Europeans, as we all know, value their rest days highly, and on Sundays when everything closes, it is – for a city girl like me – akin to Dooms Day.

What do you mean Kadewe is closed?? How do I subscribe to a consumerism lifestyle then??

But after much complaining and stalking out lonelyplanet.com, it appears there are many other things to do in Berlin on a Sunday, most of which mean mingling with the locals and gaining the ultimate (and cheap) immersive experience.

Did I mention it’s cheap?

And so, in no particular order, I present to you what to do with your Sundays in Berlin, because as coined by a very wise Albert Schweitzer,

Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.

Of course, when you say Sunday the first that comes to mind is the wondrous, bustling and lovely little flea market that is Mauer Park. A sprawling complex which used to be divided by the Berlin Wall, it now transforms into a vibrant happy place every glorious Sunday.

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There were outdoor karaoke sessions, self-made musicians and buskers on every bend, people everywhere and a multitude of stores selling postcards, maps, vinyl records, sunglasses, old furniture, clothes, and a billion other things you can think of.

I remember being completely enraptured by the quartet of musicians at the entrance of Mauer Park one Sunday. Charity Children, they called themselves. Two of them were sharing a microphone, looking like they were either singing their hearts out or about to lock lips, and I just couldn’t pull myself away.

I found a comfortable spot on the rather uncomfortable stone steps and sat with about fifty over people, just listening to them sing. I ended up buying their CD home.

No photos of the park itself, the vendors were particularly possessive about their wares and waved their hands in front of my camera each time I tried. Not that I could try a lot anyway, it was pretty crowded. Still though, it made for an excellent Sunday morning.

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While there’s already a bunch of foodstalls in Mauer Park, I decided to venture out and find the breakfast market.

The Wochenmarkt at Markthalle Neun was a little quiet when I finally found it – probably because it was around 3PM when I arrived. Some stores were closed, but I still took a few walks around the market hall before settling on freshly-squeezed lemonade and a mushroom quiche for a late lunch. I was so very, very tempted to buy some handmade strawberry and apricot jam back, but at that point I was running low on budget (damned musicians and their amazing CDs) so I had to settle for looking longing at them and trying to read the labels with my shamefully non-existent German literary skills.

Next stop, I went back to Potsdamer Platz to look for the Panoramapunkt. I read that it was one of the best places to get an aerial view of Berlin (excluding the Fernsehturm but I didn’t have a chance to visit it).

I ended up spending close to half an hour walking aimlessly around the area, trying to look for the Panoramapunkt. Naively I thought it should look spanking new with glass windows and all, turns out it was actually within the Kollhoff Tower, a boring-looking brick building with a little banner bearing the words “PANORAMAPUNKT” at the entrance.

Oh well. At least I found it 😀

It was €6.50 for an adult ticket, and I was quickly brought to what they proudly claimed was the “fastest elevator in Europe” and whisked to the 24th floor in mere few seconds.

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Berlin is a little flat, so there wasn’t much to see besides the iconic Fernsehturm (second picture above), the Sony Centre (third picture) and a view of blocky little Berlin.

There was a cafe there but (a) I was out of money and (b) I was so full from stuffing myself with little snacks. Quite a pity though, I suppose it must be pretty magical to be able to chill in a cafe with a cuppa, overlooking Berlin, feeling important and all 😀

Next time, perhaps. I will come back to Berlin, no longer a broke university student, visit the Panoramacafe and fulfil that dream.

As the sun set, I was running out of things to do. Even though we’ve already had more than our fair share of bier, it was becoming pretty apparent that bier might just be what we had left to entertain us. Beer’s cheaper than water over in Berlin, and if Singapore had a “cafe culture”, then Germany most definitely lives, breathes and eats beer. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em I say. So with a bunch of friends in tow, we visited Cafe am Neuen See, a wonderful little biergärten nestled near the heart of the city.

Perhaps afternoons might be a better time to visit, because it was hidden in the perfect shade of trees, with twinkling fairy lights strung all around. There was even a small lake with boats for hire – you could go for a row if you fancied, and the Berlin Zoo was a few streets down too. We visited pretty late, and each ordered a pint.

Obviously, I had to go for the radler; I’m not so much a beer fanatic and radler is quite close to 7-up lemon, so why not, amirite? The cashier was missing when we went to pay though (probably poured himself a mug and went off somewhere to chill), so the bartender just waved his hand.

On the house, he said.

Oh but we couldn’t, we protested. There were four of us, each holding a pint. The rule-abiding Singaporean in us was reeling in shock. But the bartender just laughed.

Have a good night!

And he skipped away.

Ah I love Germany so much.

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It really made for a wonderful Sunday. I guess it’s the chill moments like these that leave the deepest, sweetest memories. I was never checking my watch for the time, never consulting a map, never worrying about missing a train/bus/tram on a Sunday – except maybe the last train home though, cause missing that would definitely suck.

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Berlin, Berlin! Wir fahren nach Berlin!

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It’s Week 2; school’s in full swing, tutorials are starting and I…. am trying to enjoy the last leg of my IHG 14/15 season. With all the regrets I’ve been feeling, I have overlooked many happy memories. At the end of the day… it’s the moments that matter. So I’m going to do my best to give my team many, many moments that they can look back and smile upon 🙂

Anyway, as part of my de-stressing regime (I really need to stop being so terrible to myself), I realized that I need to do and see things that invoke happiness, so today, here are the 5 things you absolutely have to see in Berlin… for free 😀

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#taretravels: Die Mauer

Hi. I’m back. I did say I was very eager to post about Perth, didn’t I? Hahaha. Oh dear, why has my motivation to blog about Berlin turned into my motivation to blog about Perth? Does this mean I need to travel more to ensure I post all the time??

Mom, you know what to do. 

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We visited the infamous Berlin Wall at two locations in Berlin – along Bernauer Straße and then at East Side Gallery. The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961, divided the capital into East and West for close to three decades. We heard stories of how families were torn apart overnight, and how people died trying to get over the wall. Fallen, mauled or shot, no one was allowed to cross the wall.

Bernauer, I feel, is slightly more sombre than East Side, although the East Side is much more visually appealing, what with the political intonations along the Wall. R1008402 R1008405 R1008407And we found a random plot of wild grass, so… photo opportunity 😀

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The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in November 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.
– from Wikipedia

Continue reading “#taretravels: Die Mauer”