Month: March 2014

Berlin: Shopping, Zoo, and Live shows

For the shoppers out there, Berlin offers a plethora of retail therapy ranging from rustic indie shops to international brands like Zara and H&M.  One of the more glamorous shopping districts is französische strasse which translates into “French street.”  As the name suggests, you can find high end boutiques and the giant Galeries Lafayette French department store.  To boast it’s “Frenchness” there is a very prominent Eiffel Tower erected right in the middle of the multi-leveled store.  Another cool shopping district is Kurfürstendamm.  An extremely length strip lined with both high end and lower end stores and everything in between.  You’d probably need a full day to cover all the grounds.  Even if you aren’t a keen shopper, there are things like gourmet food stores, cafes, and architecture to check out in the area. The shot taken below with the two pyramid structures are actually bird cages.  If you look closely, you can see the little canaries sitting inside.  While in Berlin someone recommended checking out the ‘oldest zoo in the city.’  Well… it is …

Berlin: East Side Gallery – the Iconic Wall of Graffiti

One of the coolest attractions in Berlin is definitely the East Side Gallery.  It’s not your typical posh display of art from distinguished artists behind glass frames.  This one is expressionist art in its rawest form.  The best part?  It’s free. The coolest part?  It fuses history with modernity in the most organic way possible.  A 1.3km stretch of the original Berlin wall located on Mühlenstraße along the river spree. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall.  The paintings at the East Side Gallery document a time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better, more free future for all people of the world Due to the open nature of the gallery, vandalism and erosion is visible on every piece of artwork on the concrete slabs.  People freely scribble on the walls like it was the side of some high school desktop.   Not gonna lie, my friends and I made a small mark …

Berlin: Popular Tourist Spots

One of my favorite things to do in Berlin was just wandering around aimlessly.  Some of the coolest hidden gems are not plastered all over tourist pamplets, and you have to find them yourself or get locals to show you around.  Here are some random tidbits that I captured around the city.    boxoffBerlin is chock full of cool little gadgets and souvenirs.  Instead of your usual tacky magnet or postcard, their stock has a very distinct Berlin feel which is grundgey, rebellious, and artistic.  If you are looking for Berlin gifts or things to put around your house as decor, this is the place to shop.  Just a few steps away from boxoffBerlin is Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point between East and West Berlin.  It’s a pretty well-known tourist spot and the guards are really there just for show. You can take a picture with them (for a fee).  Nothing too special.  The monument I pass by all the time near Friedrichstrasse on my way to the library where I study.  As recommended by a …

Berlin: Where to live and breathe the city’s rich history

One of the most anticipated scheduled trips of the program was attending a German Cabaret.  Berlin was hailed as one of the major ‘Sin cities’ of the 1920’s.  Sexuality, experimentation and artistic expression were at their peak right after World War I.  Cabarets are similar to musicals/broadway shows and are often associated with sex in Berlin.  The venue, despite it being a tent, was very glamorous and posh.  The show we watched was an adaption of the actual film called “Cabaret” based off Christopher Isherwood’s novel.  The story depicts the intertwined lives of an American performer, Sally Bowles, and reserved academic writer, Brian Roberts.  Good thing we had watched the film in English prior because the entire show was in German and it was already difficult enough following along.  As you can see, the costumes are very risqué, baring tons of flesh and the dancing is rather erotic.   Not really understanding the dialogue, my focus was purely on the performance and theatrics which were very playful and comedic.  There was a live band and …