Our Sunday in Berlin was spent in pure tourism. We started with brunch at “Sweethearts”, the coffee and brunch restaurant that our Ruth part runs. It only opened a few months ago, but seems to be going well.
But – this week – disaster – a rent rise of 130% means that they have to close down and find somewhere else to go. Property developer greed…..
The menu has a certain quality of inherited Bartlett humour that doesn’t translate well to German! I didn’t try this, but it looks pretty fearsome!!!!
After brunch, a walk down the runway at Tempelhof to work off some food. The terminal building here, that is so big it’s difficult to photograph, lies somewhere in the distance, for more than half the width of the photograph. I understand that it’s still one of the largest structures in Europe. The airfield is well used, with dog walkers, kite flyers, skateboarders (with and without ‘sails’) and cyclists. Part of it has been fenced off as a nature reserve and is full of skylarks and the air is full of their lovely song.
This commons photograph gives a better idea of the scale.
And of course, it’s another historic part of the city to visit, as the main airfield in use during the Berlin airlift in 1948-9, with planes arriving every three minutes, being unloaded and back in the air in 30 minutes. West Berlin was supplied with food, coal and other essentials throughout this period. Interestingly, I found out that the RAF also used Sunderland flying boats to bring in stores, landing on the river.
The afternoon was meant to be spent on a boat trip. But despite the sunny weather – the best day of the weekend – all boat trips were cancelled due to rain. Wrong kind of sun?? The swans on the canal don’t look too bothered.
So it was back to Ruth’s flat to relax, and wife, daughter and dog to catch up with a little sleep. I was happy to read a book and rest my feet.
Early evening, it was time to walk along the river and visit the Reichstag dome.
The new parliament offices are a fine example of modern brutalism architecture, but I like the way the river has been allowed to sweep between the buildings.
The Reichstag itself has been restored from a bombed out shell, with the interior being totally rebuilt and modernised.
But we were early for our visit to the dome, so there was a chance to visit the Russian war memorial, with some useful hardware guarding it.
And the nearby bell tower. According to the sometimes reliable Wikipedia:
It is a large, manually played concert instrument, comprising 68 bells weighing a total of 48 metric tonnes (almost 106,000 lbs.) connected to a keyboard spanning 5½ fully chromatic octaves; the largest bell weighs 7.8 tonnes (almost 17,200 lbs.). The carillonneur sits in a playing cabin in the middle of the bells and plays with his fists and feet on a baton-and-pedal keyboard. The purely mechanical action makes it possible to play all dynamic gradations, from very soft to very loud.
What we heard from afar sounded tuneless and terrible. Still, no accounting for taste…
Once in the Reichstag dome, there was a chance to admire the views and the interesting structure of the dome itself. It’s a real model railway helix, with a spiral up to the top and a differenct spiral back down again. Having got to the top, and looked through the side windows, it was a surprise that the roof itself is open.
An excellent finish to our few days in Berlin. Monday, there was time to wander around a nearby park, before taking the U- and S-bahn back to the airport, and a EasyJet flight home. Even better, Sothern Railways managed not to be on strike, and we quickly got a flight from Gatwick home.