4/9/17 - first morning in berlin - luckily the hotel was quite close to the metro station at anhalter bahnhof with a choice of 3 lines (s1, s2 & s25) - one good thing about berlin is the "short distance" ticket allowing up to 3 stops for eu1.70 and this is handy if you want to go as far as friedrichstrabe or stadtmitte - this white building is called tempodrom

the anhalter bahnhof area is slightly off the beaten track so not that many places to eat but luckily we did find a handy pub-like place called stadtklause http://www.stadtklause.de/ which served traditional german food and beer

luckily i read in tripadvisor that they only take cash (no cards) so i managed to track down an atm with the visa app but for some reason it billed me in gbp not eur and was about gpb153 for eu150! i would have preferred the option of being billed in euros although with the euro now so expensive it might not have helped that much - i remember the days of a euro being about 65p.

one of the first tasks of the day was to find somewhere to have breakfast - the hotel said it would be eu15 per head and i have not generally been over impressed with hotel breakfasts so we found a handy breakfast place called coffee & cookies http://www.coffeeundcookies.com/ which was only a few minutes walk away - this photo below shows the original facade of anhalter bahnhof which was once one of the main stations in berlin

this was a window display of ducks in the window of a travel agent next to coffee & cookies

just opposite the breakfast place was this interesting "man on a ladder" sculpture by vattenfall https://corporate.vattenfall.com/

not far beyond the vattenfall man we reached potsdamer platz - a group of mini cars advertising philips bass+ headphones

another photo of potsdamer platz - one oddity we got caught out by here was with the u2 subway line as the subway map did not make it clear that switching between s-bahn and u-bahn lines involves coming up to the surface and going back underground on the other side of the road - i think we assumed there would be a walkway link between the lines (similar to walkway at stadtmitte that links the u2 and u6 lines)

still at potsdamer platz and a very interesting looking bike designed to be ridden by several people at once - this looks like an initiative to get people cycling https://www.stadtradeln.de/berlin/

this is the sony centre next to potsdamer platz

some buildings next to the sony centre at am park

there seem to be a large number of bears in berlin - i remember this one from my previous visit in 2008 - it is just outside the back of the sony centre facing the tiergarten

the tiergarten global stone project http://www.globalstone.de/

next to the tiergarten is brandenburg gate - a real tourist honeypot! it was just packed with people using selfie sticks and doing those photos where it looks like they are trying to hold up the chariot and horses on top of the gate - this photo show some tourists trying to work out where they are using an analog map - remember those days?

this is just too touristy for words!

just a few yards to the north of the brandenburg gate is the bundestag / reichstag building - you could tell it was election time as there were loads of political posters everywhere with elections on 24/9/17 - we asked about entry to the building but it was only allowed if you had pre booked and people seemed to be having to show passports - there is so much to see in berlin and with only 2 full (non travelling) days no great loss

next to the reichstag was a demo by the aerotoxic association https://aerotoxic.org/ which is to do with the poor air quality on flights - i have been ill on a couple of occasions after flights so i can quite believe the air quality is bad

this was quite an unexpected sight - a beekeeper and hive outside paul lobe haus (the modern government offices) - there is an article about it here http://www.dw.com/en/bees-in-the-bundestag/a-18558697

7 white crosses being a memorial to people killed crossing the berlin wall - there are also 7 white crosses facing the river

staircase at paul lobe haus with green man on ladder sculpture by artist neo rauch called mann auf der leiter https://www.bundestag.de/besuche/kunst/kuenstler/rauch/rauch/199084

more artwork this time at jakob kaiser haus called "grundgesetz 49" by dani karavan https://www.bundestag.de/besuche/kunst/kuenstler/karavan/-/199028

not sure what this sign means - google translates wie funktioniert die einschaltquote wir erklären to "how does the rating rate -we explain" - the picture of the animal next to it was quite good

blue pipes next to friedrichstrabe bahnhof - these pipes must have been recently installed as the streetview photos done in 2008 show no pipes here

a close up shot of the pipes and valves next to the river spree rail bridge

underneath the rail bridge was a handy pedestrian crossing - there was a nice place serving beer just across the river called standige vertretung https://www.staev.de/berlin-mitte.html

this is the bode museum on museum island - there is a nice selection of blue pipes along this road - the pipes are managed by a company called brechtel spezialtiefbau and deal with groundwater level management http://www.brechtel-spezialtiefbau.de/

just outside the bodemuseum is a sculpture

some stencilled artwork in a pedestrian underpass next to the river spree near hackescher markt

a tavola at the domaquaree development opposite the berliner dom

a colourful bear sculpture

another bear sculpture this time in horizontal red stripes

karl liebknecht strabe - one of the main streets leading to alexanderplatz - this part of berlin has trams - the part of berlin that used to be west berlin had trams removed as they were considered to get in the way of motor cars which were considered more important

the berlin tv tower is known as the fernsehturm and is very tall - is is so tall that everything else appears very flat - the visibility was very good and there was no queue at all - it was 14 euros per head to go up - this was looking in the direction of kreuzberg

this was a good view of the towers shadow over alexanderplatz - there are lots of tiny people and trams

looking north east towards park inn - there seem to be quite a few groups of very tall buildings a long way out from the centre - the tall buildings top right must be neu hohenschonhausen

view towards the mitte area of berlin - you can just see the 3 tall chimneys of the lichterfeld power plant on the left horizon which is about 11km away

some trams at alexanderplatz

world time clock at alexanderplatz know as weltzeituhr

haus de lehrers or teachers home with a frieze by walter womacka https://www.hausdeslehrers.de

the house of statistics at alexanerplatz also known as haus der statistik - it has been empty for a number of years https://hausderstatistik.org/

this building was right opposite the park inn hotel in alexanderplatz - it had quite an interesting staircase at the side

there seemed to be a lot of construction work going on related to projekt u5 which is bridging the gap in the metro system between alexanderplatz and brandenburger tor http://www.projekt-u5.de/

more works related to projekt u5 - a nice selection of blue pipes

a glass u-bahn lift at mohrenstrabe

these pink pipes at checkpoint charlie were very colourful

checkpoint charlie - a tourist handed me his mobile phone and wanted me to take a photo of him with the "you are leaving the american sector..." sign in the background - reminded me how fiddly it is trying to take photos using a phone!

5/9/17 - after another breakfast at coffee & cookies we decided that the main target of the day would be the jewish museum which was not far from the hotel - i remember seeing it from the outside back in 2008 but did not have time to visit this museum housed in liebeskind's iconic building

on the way from the hotel we passed a preserved section of berlin wall - this picture showing the bear and group of people was taken through a large hole in the preserved section - there was a lot of rusty rebar showing in the holes - the exhibit is called topographie des terrors http://www.topographie.de/

just across the road from the preserved wall was the welt balloon with trabant tours on offer as well

another look at those pink pipes at checkpoint charlie before heading towards the jewish museum

luckily the jewish museum was not too busy and there was no queue to get in - the museum is entered via the basement - the basement is arranged via 3 axis - exile holocaust and continuity with a holocaust tower at the end of one axis - a tall dark bare concrete silo with a small window at the top - at the end of the axis of exile was the garden of exile made up of 49 concrete columns in a 7x7 grid - all the floors in the basement have a slop of a few degrees to add to the feeling of uneasiness

more photos of the basement area

the photo below shows the holocaust tower - looking straight up - it was extremely dark so taking this shot was not easy and required a long shutter speed and steady hand

after looking round the basement area there was an impressive staircase leading to the top floor of the museum

the museum has a number of "voids" built into it and it is quite maze like and disorientating but you get odd glimpses of other parts of the museum through gaps in the concrete structure - the gap shows part of the staircase well

looking through one of the voids in the structure through a narrow window towards another narrow window at the other side of the void

even the interior stairwells used to get down through the floors were works of art in their own right with specially designed windows at odd jagged angles

this is an area under a set of stairs where you can watch old historic cartoons while kneeling on the floor

a gallery showing various portraits - note the signature liebeskind windows allowing in just enough light

this concrete void runs the full height of the museum and has been filled with face shaped metal objects - i have seen pictures of people walking on these faces but there did not seem to be any public access at the time - it is know as the memory void and the installation is called fallen leaves by menashe kadishman and has over 10000 faces https://www.jmberlin.de/en/shalekhet-fallen-leaves

generally a very good museum and well worth a visit - the location is slightly off the beaten track in an inner suburb known as kreuzberg and we decided to walk down to the landwehr canal but the area round the canal did not seem very nice so we got the u6 from hallesches tor to franzosische strabe in search of some beer

after some refreshments to berliner dom was the next target of the day - there was a handy 'city toilet" next to the dom which had a very odd floor which went down a couple of inches when you trod on it - presumably so the toilet can sense when someone is using it and then clean it after

the dom itself was very impressive and had a series of walkways and stairwells that took you first to an internal viewing gallery and then onto a higher external viewing gallery - the stairs start broad and grand and at each level get narrower and more basic - this walkway goes all the way round the inside of the dome and was quite deserted and had very heavy doors every few yards which slammed shut creating a loud echo

the views from the viewing gallery were good and very different from the high gallery at the tv tower - in the above photo you can see that there are some low hills in the suburbs beyond the tv tower and park inn hotel but from the tv tower everything just looked flat as you were looking down onto everything from such a height

view from the berliner dom to the west towards the mitte district

there are a lot of stairs to navigate to get from the top of the berliner dom back to street level

one last shot of our local ubahn station at anhalter strabe