Tuesday, July 14, 2015


A few days before I left Berlin, I figured I needed to go to the Reichstag. I’d been several times to the Brandenburger Tor, and despite the fact that they’re pretty close to each other, never to the Reichstag. It was sunny, I had nowhere to be that evening, and I had my camera, so I took a detour on the way home.

The Federal Chancellery Building, as seen from across from the street, and the creatively-designed lawn.

The Paul Löbe Haus, one of the German government (Bundestags) buildings. The other sides can be seen from the river, and as river tours are very popular and the other sides of the building are much more interesting, this side of the side seems to be much less known.

Walk around the corner, and you see this: the Reichstag. The blue sky with clouds really helped out, I think.  Words on the front of the building say “Dem Deutschen Volk”, meaning “to the German people”.

The Paul Löbe Haus again. The idea with the government buildings being built largely with glass was the idea of transparency. I guess they also wanted to be modern and unique, as the Germans are clearly known for being.

You can see the glass dome on top of the building, something that was added onto the building for more transparency and so on.

I had planned to go into the Dome, as it’s a popular thing for the tourists among us, but it wasn’t until my last week in Berlin that I realized I was running out of time. You need to register to go inside, which wasn’t an issue, except for that all the time slots were taken for my last week.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t able to do during my time in Berlin, and this was just one of them. Just means I have to go back.

I asked a man to take this for me, and he did a good job – taking several pictures and offering them to me for review, and then taking more. He was with a group of men, and as they were speaking while he was taking my picture, I thought they were speaking Spanish, some sort of dialect that I couldn’t understand.

The man handed the camera back to me, I said “gracias”, and he told me he was from Kurdistan. He got the message, however.

The former location of the Berlin Wall is memorialized throughout the city, usually with a double row of bricks showing where it stood. (Thank you Amanda for pointing that out to me.) In many places, especially where things have recently been fixed or built, the brick pathway is interrupted, and often, not replaced.

Had I had more time, a bike, and more athletic ability, I would have liked to follow the path of the wall, an idea I got from a blog post I read about it. However that’s not always possible, it runs through buildings, along the middle of streets, and sometimes you just don’t know where it was.

I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of where it stood, trying to imagine present-day Berlin and where it was formerly divided between east and west. It’s a big part of the city’s history and I’d be sad to see the continual forgetting of it all.

Here’s the Reichstag as seen from the back.

Along the river (Spree), there are glass structures, laying out the rights of the Germans. They were written in 1949, approved in accordance with the Allies. Comparing them to the rights given by the U.S.’s Constitution, there are several similarities, but also several bigger, fundamental differences. As I read them it became clear that this constitution was written almost 200 years later.

Again, the Paul Löbe Haus, the more popular view, as seen from the Spree.

As I took this picture, I was sitting on the stairs that lead people down to the river. I had a backpack on, and at some point I realized that I saw a shadow of a person standing, the shadow of which was very close to my shadow. I only had a few more days in Berlin, and was counting myself lucky for not having anything stolen/attempted stolen yet, and I thought this was the end of my luck.

I whipped around, ready to let the perpetrator know that I knew what he was doing. What I found was a kind-looking older gentleman, standing peacefully about 10 feet away from me, enjoying the view. Because the sun was so low in the sky, his shadow extended to next to mine, and inadvertently scared me quite a bit. He then looked at me like I was insane, I’m sure for what looked like I was having an attack of some sort.

Another angle of the Reichstag, seen this time the left/north side. In the photo, to the right is the Paul Löbe Haus.

My walk to the Hauptbahnhof, really quite a building. I should have taken a picture inside, as it’s like 7 stories, with more train tracks than I’ve ever seen in my life. Also featuring grocery stories, book stores, bakeries, convenience stores, etc.

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