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Roland van Ipen­burg
To be stolen or blogged


Thurs­day 3 Septem­ber 2009 14:59

Last Tues­day I was in Ber­lin for the first time, and in the east of Ger­many for the first time even. Added a gallery with some shots of Ber­lin.

I took the train from Ham­burg to Ber­lin and no­ticed the land­scape be­tween those cities is just one large Bat­tle­field: Bad Com­pa­ny map. No moun­tains, no rivers, just hills, fields, trees and small vil­lages. No­body would be sur­prised if they saw some tanks mov­ing through that en­vi­ron­ment.

The first sur­prise in Ber­lin was that the Haupt­bahn­hof was very not busy. Build on a scale for some wish­ful amount of traf­fic, or the over­sized re­mains of a mega­lo­man­ic soc­cer cham­pi­onship event. From there it was off to Alex­an­der­platz. It turned out that is the place where the fa­mous tele­vi­sion tow­er stands, so that must be the for­mer DDR. That would ex­plain the Stal­in­ist ar­chi­tec­ture. But it doesn't get any bet­ter go­ing west. The cur­rent gov­ern­ment build­ings are guard­ed about as heav­i­ly as the in­ner-Ger­man bor­der back in the days, which gives it the same un­friend­ly at­mos­phere, and you won­der if they just re-em­ployed the same peo­ple for it. The lit­tle patch­es of green grass are pro­tect­ed so you are not al­lowed on them. Streets are broad and giv­en the num­ber of peo­ple with diplo­mat­ic im­mu­ni­ty dri­ving around there, you've got to be very care­ful cross­ing them. The Bran­den­bur­ger Tor is dis­ap­point­ing­ly small, the Arc de Triomphe is so much larg­er it could prob­a­bly arc over it, as il­lus­trat­ed by this Blen­der ex­per­i­ment us­ing Google Sketchup 3D ware­house mod­els of the Tor and the Arc:

The riv­er Spree is also small. Tier­garten is OK, but grilling is not al­lowed in that park. There is a lot of space every­where, but in­stead of be­ing im­pres­sive it seems it's just be­cause no­body is in­ter­est­ed in build­ing any­thing there. The area is dom­i­nat­ed by the Haupt­bahn­hof in the north and an­oth­er huge build­ing with the DB logo on it in the south. In be­tween ugly build­ings which make you won­der what they want to ac­com­plish here. Ber­lin is prob­a­bly nice for peo­ple be­ing dri­ven around in some limo they didn't pay for, but com­pared to Paris or Lon­don, or even Mu­nich, Ham­burg or Düs­sel­dorf it's still a pa­thet­ic place.


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