Europe tagged posts

Berlin underground: From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris

vistaTorre2 Lenara Verle, my guru for cultural activities in Berlin, told me about the tours organized by Berliner Unterwelten. It is an association focus on the city’s underground history and tours. The autumn arrived and this is the last month of the Tour 2 – From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris. The days I could make it, there was only tour in German. So I invited Lenara to come with me. After all, my German is “reasonable” but hers is very good. See Lenara’s log bellow.

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aspas_abremInvited by Errante, I joined a tour inside the ruins of a flak tower in Humboldthain Park. The tour is offered by the Berlin Underground Association, a group that explores many underground structures connected to Berlin’s history, including bunkers, tunnels, sewage ducts, pneumatic mail networks and others. Their many volunteers help with digging, cleaning and rehabilitating abandoned spaces, transforming them into small museums and locations for guided tours.

In this tour we visited the one flak tower remaining of thre...

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Oslo


Oslo was our last one stop. We arrive on the afternoon and went to a house that rents rooms for tourist. The place scared a little, it was very far from downtown, it seemed countryside, there was only green around. It was not the idea of urban tourism we had planned. It looked like a place for weekend houses. But in the end of the day we saw that it was not, many people lived there the year around. When we got off on the train station, many people got off with us. We imagined how it would be to live in this place in the winter, everything very quiet, without life and, in addition, snow all around. The second day we moved to a hotel downtown.

We visit the port, a pretty place for, in the end of the afternoon, seeing the sunset and boats. We also went for a walk on the Vigeland Park: wonderful. A park with approximately 200 sculptures by the famous Norwegian artist, Gustav Vigeland...

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Helsinki

We arrive in Helsinki in a rainy gray day. We walked a little by the center of the city, stop in a cafe to eat something and I went to the lectures of ISEA2004. My mother stayed waking around the center and photographing. By the end of the afternoon there was the inauguration of a art exhibition in the Kiasma (Museum of Contemporary Art). There we met my friends Spanish who were showing artwork. I showed to my mother some of the electronic art. The following days had been a mixture of going to lectures and walking to see the city. Always when there was sunlight I skipped the conferences to photograph and to walk by the tourist attractions of the city.

The city is organized and at the same time cold. It always gives the impression that is lacking something. According to my mother it is because it lacks an old town as in other European cities. In Helsinki everything was spacious that did not give the feeling of a cozy place.

What caught our attention in town is the huge number of haird...

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Tallinn

When we arrived in Tallinn it was raining and cold. We went for a coffee and walk a little in the old town. I was impressed by the amount of tourists despite of the rain. We walked on the narrow streets with groups of English, German and Spanish people. They were all with their rain jackets and photo camera. Places with many tourists, specially groups, make me claustrophobic. It was as if we were in Disneyland visiting organized old towns, there was even a trolley to take visitors for a drive around downtown.

I spent a great part of my days on lectures. My mother was walking around town and going to souvenir shops. We found out that the city was not so touristy as we thought, there were only times that groups would invade downtown. In my understanding, it could be the time when cruise ships stopped there for a few hours. The old town could be very beautiful and pleasant, specially on the evenings and hours with little tourism.

In one of the days in town we went to a party on a square ...

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Karlsruhe

Right after my arrival in Karlsruhe I went to see the ZKM Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie and visit the Medienmuseum. It was impressive for me because I had the opportunity to see works of electronic art that I only knew  from books. Works as the ones by Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau, Bruno Cohen, Jeffrey Shaw, Hermen Maat, really are nothing in a book when compared to the experience of touching and interacting.

I walked around the city downtown area. Crowded with shops, cafes, and lots of people walking around, it reminded me Brazil. Maybe due to the modern architecture, the noise and movement of people coming and going. One of the most important tourist places in the city is the Schloss Karlsruhe. The palace was constructed in the eighteenth century by Karl Wilhelm. Today it houses the museum Badisches Landesmuseum im Schloss. Here I could get a sense of how it was the life in the palace and appreciate the art. I climbed up the tower to have a view of the city...

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Weimar

Weimar reminded me Leipzig. It seems that the two towns have lots in common, besides Goethe, of course. I waked around the historical center, it also rained. I, then, spent a time in a café to read a little about the city.

In order to know more about the city history I visited the Weimar Haus – das Geschichtserlebnis. It is a museum with an automatic guided visit. Doors open to different rooms and sceneries with wax personalities, videos and lighting effects. As audio explains the history of the place.

Other two important museums in town are Goethes Wohnhaus and Bauhaus Museum. The Goethe house was crowded, it should be a day for school visit. The museum is a walk through the different rooms of the place where the writer used to live. The Bauhaus Museum was not big, I expected more. It was a sort of repetition of what I saw in the Bauhaus museum in Berlin.

Concluding my quick visit to Weimar I had dinner in a Thai restaurant...

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Leipzig


I arrived in Leipzig on a Sunday morning. Since it was raining, I spent a lot of time in a Frühstücksbuffet (a brunch). I had lots of food and went back to the hostel for a nap. It was a perfect day to relax.

After the nap I walked around downtown, sometimes the sun tried to show up a little bit. The historical center is beautiful, with its old building, cafes and shops. Leipzig is a town with an artistic and intellectual background, here lived personalities such as Goethe and Bach. Today it seems to be an student town. This was one of the few European cities where I saw people kissing each other on the streets. That caught my attention because, in my idea of “cold German people” wouldn’t be youngsters kissing in public. Maybe they were tourists… I don’t believe so…

I visited the Bach Museum. It is not big, it has some images from his time, partitures sheet music and a handset with explanations on his life and work. I like it...

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Berlin – 3 more weeks of classes

The following weeks in Berlin I had German classes every morning. Long walks around town in the afternoons, plus museums, parks, zoo, aquarium, cafes, beach, flee market… And the evenings: pubs, movies, orchestra, live music, dance festival… It was a very cultural summer vacation, and in company of good friends.

Second week

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Dresden


Together with 3 other classmate from Germana classes we got a train to Dresden. We used the Schönes Wochenende Ticket (Happy Weekend Ticket), a very cheap ticket that can be used unlimited times (only on regional trains) to up to 5 people. The trip was fun, we laughed a lot the whole journey. The city reminded me Prague or Budapest, we walked all over downtown. I love cities with rivers or sea.

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Berlin: first week


The first week in Berlin was a sort of getting used to the new routine that it will last for a month. I always liked routines in cities where I don’t live. It is like to have an intimacy with a place for a short period of time.

I started with German classes in the mornings and I had afternoons and evening to know the city, see friends and visit museums. On the first days I met Thomas, Lorena and Kai for a beer in Mitte. Thomas I met in Bolivia in 2001. Lorena is my friend from Barcelona and Kai is her friend. We enjoy the warm Berliner night sitting outside and chatting about travels. The talk was a mixture of Spanish and English with some words in Portuguese and German.

I visited the Wall Museum (Haus am Checkpoint Charlie) with Lorena. I thought it was a little disorganized, there was a great amount of photos and newspaper pages hanged on the wall. By the end one could notice some organization. Great part of the museum was about people who wanted to escape from east into west...

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