Summer Postcards 2014

50 Hours in (East) Berlin

BERLIN—Hello from the lovely Inter-City Express from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof, in which I am currently whipping through beautiful mountains of Germany at 300 kilometers per hour! Since this past weekend was a long one here in Germany, I decided to go up to Berlin—and it was incredible. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about Berlin. People have described it as fascinating, dirty, beautiful, ugly, and more. I didn’t know what to expect. After a mere 50 hours, I still cannot exactly describe Berlin. But I think that’s the city’s charm. Its constantly changing nature eludes any form of static adjective.

I arrived in Berlin at around 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. I headed to Hackerscher Markt in Mitte, where I stayed this weekend. Since it was a Saturday, the Hackerscher Market was bustling with shoppers bouncing from stall to stall. The market’s beautiful displays of sausages were particularly striking. I washed one of the sausages down with some freshly squeezed strawberry juice. After dropping my bags off, I headed off to explore the Mitte region., an excellent blog on Berlin, described Mulackstraße and Torstraße in Mitte as the hippy part of town. Of course, I had to check it out. Dotted along those streets were pop-up minimalist design-concept stores with a twist. For example, one featured a “lamp,” which was really a single, warmly-lit bulb with a thick, colored roped chord. You could build your own shell for the bulb, from a wide array of industrial yet aesthetically pleasing materials like shattered glass and carefully engraved metal. I had to resist the urge to purchase everything. From Mulackstraße, I walked to Museumsinsel to visit Walter König’s bookstore, the biggest art history bookshop in the world, where I managed to find a copy of El Lissitzky’s “Of Two Squares” there. Then, I walked on Unter den Linden—one of the major streets in Berlin—all the way down to Brandenburg Tor and Tiergarten, spotting many of the major attractions in Berlin along the way. I was exhausted after the trek, but there was no way I was stopping. After a quick dinner, I headed off to Donau511 in Neukölln region. Donau511 is a small venue with a capacity of twenty people and none of the pretensions of New York City locales. There, I ended the night enjoying the music of three lovely jazz musicians.

Sunday was going to be a museum day. I woke up bright and early and headed straight to Museumsinsel. There, I saw the Neues Museum—a museum that was almost completely destroyed in World War II but now gloriously resurrected by David Chipperfield. You can still see traces of bullets on the side of the museum. I also gazed at German Romantic works in the Nationalgalerie and the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum. When I left the museum, it was 4:00pm. After a quick iced coffee, I headed to Schönhauser Allee in the Prenzlauer Berg district, and walked around the Mauerpark.

Monday was my last day in Berlin. I felt like I had done so much, but at the same time nothing at all. I headed straight to the East Side Gallery at around 10 am, before it got too hot. From there, I walked to Kreuzberg—a town with graffiti all over the buildings. From Kreuzberg, I took the U-Bahn to a completely different part of Berlin: Marienburger Platz, a beautiful, clean town that is slightly reminiscent of Milan, Italy. After a fantastic brunch there, I came back to Hackerscher Markt, which had started to feel like home at that point. I picked up my bags, and headed to Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

It was a wonderful, crazy-short, remarkably fun weekend. And I didn’t even really venture out to West Berlin and spots like Charlottenberg and Schönberg. But I’m not too sad about that—I know I will come back.


Adela H. Kim’16, a Crimson arts editor, is a history of art and architecture concentrator in Lowell House.