Day 12 – Sat 17 Apr 2010 – Under an Ashen Sky

Confirmed with the hotel that I’ll be staying in Berlin until Tuesday and play it by ear from them. Caught the S-Bahn to Tiergarten (the large central parks/gardens in Berlin) and walked right through it about 3 km to the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate).

The long avenue through Tiergarten with Saturday morning traffic.

Lots of paths, features and statues throughout the park

Coming up to the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)

In spite of volcanic ash thing, today is one of the brightest and clearest yet, although there is a slightly dark mottling of the blue at high altitude.

Over the bridge looking back towards the Reichstag under a volcanic plume sky

Went to the Museum fur Naturkunde. It’s the classic stuffed animals type museum with an evolutionary theme. The main area includes the world’s largest dinosaur skeleton on display; a brontosaurus. Like all the Berlin museums it’s seriously good and very well presented.

Now this is what a ‘real’ museum should look like

Made my way to the nearby U-Bahn station and caught a metro to Checkpoint Charlie. It’s a tourist trap, complete with American ‘Guards’ chewing gum and posing with amply-cleavaged chickie-babes next to the stars and stripes for one Euro a time. The trains runs right under the checkpoint, so I don’t know how that must have worked when the wall was up. The more I look at Berlin the more absurd and bizarre the wall becomes.

A couple of actors playing the Checkpoint Charlie scam

Went back to the hotel for a bit of a siesta after a muffin at the Hauptbahnhof, where there are now huge lines at the DB booking office. Afterwards went off again to Sauvignyplatz station to go somewhere different. A train to Spandau arrived first so that’s where I went.

The Berlin S-Bahns look more like most U-Bahns

Th covered thrid rail and power pick-up shoe on an S-Bahn train

We pass the (1936) Olympic Stadium on the way, so I plan to stop there on the way back and catch the U-Bahn on the other side after walking through it.

Spandau Bahnhof (railway station)

Spandau is a surprise. It’s sort of Parramatta-esque but not as cramped. It has a large station with a shopping complex on one side, and a rather nice park, bus terminal and huge Rathaus (town hall) on the other. Just east is a pretty river. Spandau prison must be near somewhere, but I don’t have much time to explore.

The stark architecture of the 1936 Olympic Stadium

The terminal platforms for big events at the Olympic Stadium – Check the sky on this and previous photo – I wonder if I’ve captured the volcanic plume??

Went back to the Olympic Stadium. The station has two ‘through’ S-Bahn tracks plus a gaggle of terminal platforms for major events. The stadium appears quite low compared to Sydney’s. It has that very stark Third Reich era architecture, and you can easily imagine it being draped in swastikas.

A tightrope walker at the mediaeval fair at the Olympic site

An unexpected treat is a Middle Ages fair being conducted next to the stadium. It was pretty ‘full on’ in a fun sort of way. Lots of people in mediaeval dress, lots of stalls including a couple of operating forges making armour and accessories.

Goodies for sale at the fair – looks like Canterbury-Bankstown are playing today

Nothing like a bit of genuine pork based cuisine

Added to them was a mediaeval band, a tightrope walker in chain mail, and places where you could have sword fights or shoot bows, and even a shooting gallery for kids with mini-crossbows.

Crossbow shooting gallery for the kids  –  These cross-bows would be prohibited weapons in some Oz states  –  Oh how nannified we have become!

Seemed to know what she was doing, but I think I would have gone for more PPE

There were lots of food stores include one doing bread, pizzas and a pig on a spit. After a bit of looking around I found the U-Bahn station and returned to the hotel for the night.

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