Monday, 21 January 2013

Prenzlauer Berg

My next trip out in Berlin was one that I made with Walter. Winter finally put in an appearance that day so it was a bit of a cold trip, especially as I had neglected to note how far the distances were on my map. But we both survived it!

Walter wasn't so sure we should be out in the cold
Due to an elevator being out of service on our planned route, Walter and I ended up having our journey take an hour so that I could find a station I could easily exit with him! It meant that we had to go via Alexanderplatz, where we saw our first hint of a Weinachtmarket. I had heard a lot of good things about German Christmas Markets but this was my first glimpse of one and it looked very promising. There is something very endearing about mini wooden huts, especially when one knows that they will soon be selling glühwein and roast meats!

When we finally arrived in Prenzlauer Berg our first stop was the Volkspark Friedrichshain. I was keen to see the Märchenbrunnen, a beautiful fountain full of characters from traditional German fairytales. I thought it would be an easy walk across the park to get there, so Walter and I climbed to the top of one of the Bunkerbergs (artificial mountains built from the rubble carted away from postwar Berlin) with the plan of coming down the other side and continuing on to the fountain. However I managed to get us completely turned around and after we descended a rather steep staircase (quite a feat with his pram!) I discovered we were almost back where we’d started! So after that we followed a bike path along the park’s perimeter.

The climb up

The climb down!
 Alas, when we arrived at the Märchenbrunnen we discovered that all the fountains were completely enclosed in little wooden huts to protect them over winter! It was so disappointing, especially as the few sculptures that were visible only served to hint at how incredible the fountain would look. 

 After the volkspark we went to the Georgen-Parochial I Friedhof, in order to view some of the tombstones that were damaged during the hand-to-hand combat of the Battle for Berlin. It was eerie seeing the bullet holes and shrapnel damage and thinking about the lives lost in this space.

You can see the damage on the wall behind the statue
Due to the cold we found it necessary to take a break in a nearby cafe until we were warm enough to press on. The next stop on our walk was an old watertower that had been converted into a series of apartments. It looked like a really neat place to live, except that when the conversion was being undertaken 27 bodies were found in the pipes at the bottom of the tower – more gruesome remainders from the Nazi regime.

By this time we’d reached the shopping district part of Prenzlauer Berg and it was time to go find the birthday present my mother-in-law had said I should get – a piece of art or pottery made by a Berlin artist. This was such a great idea! Walter and I headed straight for the studio of Jeanne Koepp ( where I had a delightful time picking out a piece of art for my birthday. The woman on duty didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much German, but that didn’t matter. She was really great about letting Walter into the shop and kept him entertained while I browsed the various pieces. The one I got in the end was really special – an old lidded porcelain coffee cup & saucer, their original design stripped an a beautiful dull-gold & gray pattern painted on. It really reminded me of Berlin, this object with old lines but a modern design. It’s similar to this.

With a buzz from my art purchase, Walter & I set off at a jaunty pace towards our last stop of the day – Konnopke’s Imbiß, the home of Berlin’s oldest currywurst maker! I was really excited to try currywurst in all of its authentic glory and I was not disappointed. It was the neatest little imbiß, located under the elevated tracks of the U-Bahn, with tables and sheltered seating and an organ grinder serenading the diners. The wurst (a sausage topped with curry powder & red sauce) and the pommes (mit mayo!) were delicious. The only downside was that a man saw me taking pictures and then followed me for two blocks demanding to see my camera and insisting that I’d taken his picture. It was really scary, as I couldn’t shake him off and I was certain that he was trying to steal my DSLR camera. I stuck close to the crowds of shoppers and made a beeline for a well-lit shop where I could call for help if I needed it. Fortunately he saw he wasn’t getting anywhere and left us, but I had a rather terrifying journey back to Wedding as I kept thinking I saw him on the train or the street. I have never been so glad to get home!

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