First Hamburg, then Berlin
24.03.2011 - 26.03.2011 2 °C
In the Northwest of Germany, we find the second largest city nestled in a beautiful region, possessing two lakes, historic harbors, and a small island.
The weather was much better than what we had hoped for - the weather forecast told us the opposite of this sunny glory
German S-Bahn trains ran overground
Our first stop was this popular attraction called Hamburg Dungeons - unfortunately we were unable to enjoy the history talks and interactive activities because everything was conducted in German! Thankfully, the ticket officer kindly confirmed with us if we met the language requirement.
No attraction, don't worry! We could always enjoy a couple hours of lounging in the sun, sipping our hot chocolate and nibbling on our cakes
The little island off the South tip of Hamburg's harbors is called Hafencity. There are numerous bridges connecting the two land masses (one big, one small)
construction going on to build modernistic high-tech buildings
Bubbly surface, interesting
Our thank-you notes to Hamburg for its loveliness!
Now it was time for a ferry tour around the harbor! The one-day pass we bought from the central station covered all forms of underground, overground, and water transportation - we hopped on the ferry right before its ramp lifted for departure
The breeze from the Elbe River (heading from Czech Republic to the North Sea, criss-crossing through Central Europe) made us feel so free!
Cher calls this "half a Titanic" (the classic Titanic pose!)
Besides the ferry, there was a tunnel deep down underground built for cars, cyclists (plenty in Germany), and on-footers.
After a little rest on the ferry and seeing the tunnel, we wanted to drink in the lake scenery before sunset. Peaceful and pure.
Hamburg is a city that makes me breathe so naturally, so rhythmically - it breathes life into every cell in my body
The City Hall's Baroque facade
View from below
Wondrous window design
Healthy dinner at a local bakery. We got closing-time discounts for arriving after 6pm
An unexpected adventure in a high-tech complex, looking onto a medieval church spire
The night view is serene and enchanting
St. Catherine's - in our pursuit of St. Michaelis, we went to St. Nikolai, St. Catherine's...by the time we reached St. Michaelis, its doors were all locked.
The Ritter Sport chocolates have an exciting variety of flavors here in their home country
Taking the Bahn train, we arrived in Berlin around 8:30am. We unfortunately missed our first train by 2 minutes and had to pay for the penalty and the purchase of new tickets
The Jewish Museum
Few museums lead visitors through personal journeys like the one and only Jewish Museum. From its symbolic exterior to its carefully selected displays, we not only gained more education on the Jewish history but also developed our own interpretations of the much-debated past.
The floor plan of the museum, resembling a lightning
The Garden of the Void
In summertime, all the olive branches would be green.
Caught inside the Dark Void room
Thousands of steel masks
we trampled on these masks with our dirty shoes, squashing their screaming - deafening inside the eardrums
On the top level, the exhibition traced the Jewish communities from their origins up to the rise of Nazism. I gained my first glimpse into this much-respected-in-modern-time but much-despised-in-history ethno-religous group.
Their most important texts: the Torah and the Talmud
Leaving the Jewish Museum, we had lunch near the Charlie Checkpoint, where the guarded border between East Berlin and West Berlin used to stand.
Most of the tourist and historic attractions are situated in East Berlin, such as the Potsdam Plaza - posh modern center in a new development area
we spot ourselves in this tall mini-mirror against a giant skyscraper
The greatest motivation for coming to Germany was to visit my high school friend, Anna. We met up at the Potsdam Plaza under an enormous Lego giraffe. Now after one and a half days of reading maps and following a set itinerary (with flexible changes now and then), I took a long breath and happily handed over the decision power to Anna and her Berlin-based college friend, Marie. They took us walking down the Brandburg boulevard and finally ending at the Holocaust Memorial.
The Famous Brandenburg Gate - the German Arch of Triumph. Counting my fingers, I have seen the Washington Square Arch of Triumph in NYC, the Marble Arch in London, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the authentic Arc de Triomphe in Paris - that's a total of 4 arches!
Group shot at the Holocaust Memorial! The weather was an antithesis to Hamburg's bright skies
look ahead. lost. search.
Two Peek-a-Boo babies
Anna and I
We walked a long way to find dinner. Initially, we set our goals on finding traditional German food. Soon, we faced the idiosyncratic reality of German dining that once a restaurant is full, it means it is full for the WHOLE night. People go out to eat not just for filling their empty stomachs, but to have a whole night of social entertainments like card games and conservations. Also, traditional German restaurants were the gathering places of people twice our age.
So then, we decided to take Marie's recommendation for a local burger place.
Popular gas drink among young people in Berlin
My eggplant vegetarian burger - it was delicious!
Tired, going to bed early for another fun-packed day in Berlin!
The second day started with patches of blue skies peeking through fluffy clouds. Our first destination was the Berlin Dom - a baroque cathedral that won us from the eyes to the heart.
The impressive exterior
the tall vaulting aisle
The MAGNIFICENT altar and apse
The fine detailing
The circular dome
Capture me in this golden orb of transcendental beauty
The silent shadows
Design from late 1700s
Design in early 1800s
What we witness today
We climbed to the top
The panoramic view of Berlin - not as pretty as Paris, but distinct with its own flavor
Leaving the Dom, we reunited with Jane, who just arrived on this second day to join our Berlin trip. The first destination for the three of us was the Reichstag - Parliament. If you want to splurge on an exclusive dining experience, reserve seats two weeks in advance for the opportunity to eat in the restaurant sitting on top of the Reichstag. Exactly where? well you asked the wrong person because I did not go up there.
The Big Reichstag and the Tiny Me
Memorial stones close to the Reichstag
German Street food was very appetizing
The bridge next to the East Side Gallery (the longest existing section of the Berlin wall)
The paintings expressed hope, anguish, war, rejuvenation, dreams...
"Life is worth the pain of living"
A memorable street
After seeing the Berlin wall, we met up with Anna and Marie for our second day's guided walking tour around the Alexandreplaz area (landmark was the tall broadcasting tower)
Our favorite part of walking tour - the Hofe: a combination of shopping store and outdoor market
Our favorite store: Ampelman Store!!! East Berlin's traffic lights are all adorned with the cute Ampelman. We picked out magnets, gummy candies, earrings, and bags with Ampelman on them.
Which one beat the Ampelman? None!
Pfaancuchen - thanks for Anna and Marie's insistence, we tried this absolutely delicious dessert that characterizes Berlin's breakfasts and afternoon snacks
After shopping, we ambled down a historic district with elegant historic-styled buildings, before heading to Marie's apartment for dinner.
Marie's apartment was gorgeous, making me want to move to Berlin to study and lodge in this type of affordable housing!
busy in the kitchen
Lazy -> taking a nap on the comfortable sofa bed
We finished it all!
Anna " I wish there was more..."
Yes, there was the delicious dessert - Haagen Dazs Dulche de Leche and Strawberry ice-cream, accompanied by fresh strawberries that I picked up from a street-side vendor
My souvenir for myself: Rittersport chocolate collection in Mini packages. =D