Checkpoint Charlie seen from a coach window


This slightly unassuming street scene, taken through a coach window by a tourist actually shows one of the most iconic locations of divided Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie.

U-Bahn: 
Kochstraße (U6)
A tourist's picture of Berlin's most famous crossing point, while it was still in use.

You know those days when you go looking for one thing and end up finding something completely different? I had one of those the other day and ended up as the owner of a collection of colour 35mm slides shot in Berlin in the early 1980s (summer 1981 as far as I can tell, assuming they're all from the same date).

This is actually a fairly commonly photographed view, looking from Potsdamer Platz down along Stresemannstraße:

S-Bahn: 
Potsdamer Platz (S1, S2, S25)
U-Bahn: 
Potsdamer Platz (U2)
A tourist's photo, taken from the viewing platform at Potsdamer Platz, including a nice view of the border guards!

I briefly mentioned back in November 2009 how the Berliner Dom - originally designed by Julius Raschdorff and opened in 1905 - had been rebuilt in slightly altered form after World War II. Seeing as I'm currently in the mood for delving into my archive of Günter Bittner's pictures, now would seem to be a good time to show you what I mean.

S-Bahn: 
Hackescher Markt (S5, S7, S75, S9)
Pictures from both before and after World War II, plus the present day.
Topics: 

It was early 2007 when, trawling eBay for old postcards to use in a lecture, I came across a collection of assorted postcards and photographs which had belonged to the seller's father. She had included some example images in the description, but added that there were an awful lot more. How could I not be intrigued? It was like an archival lucky dip...

S-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (S5, S7, S75, S9)
U-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (U2, U5, U8)
Topics: 
Pictures by Günter Bittner, showing the Marienkirche and surrounding buildings before the area was cleared in the 1960s.

The snow is deeper out towards Tegel. The pale late afternoon sunset has quickly given way to darkness and the bus swishes cautiously through the icy streets.

I arrive at the airport with more than enough time to spare. The flight, it turns out, will be delayed by around twenty minutes, so after I've checked my suitcase in, I go outside to take in the night air.

S-Bahn: 
There's no S-Bahn station serving Tegel.
The X9 and TXL buses run regularly between the airport and the city centre.
U-Bahn: 
There is no U-Bahn either!


A mug of Glühwein



Before heading back to Tegel, I stop at Gendarmenmarkt for a last mug of Glühwein.

Glühwein (mulled wine - though literally 'glow wine') is one of the German Christmas market staples, made by heating red wine with spices (usually cloves, cinnamon and allspice, though there are many variations...I like to use cardamon myself), citrus fruits and sugar.

U-Bahn: 
Hausvogteiplatz (U2) - quite convenient for both markets
Stadtmitte (U2, U6) - the eastern exit from the U2 platform is right at the southern end of Gendarmenmarkt. It's a tiny bit further from the U6.
A quick introduction to two related warming alcoholic drinks, both popular at Christmas time in Germany.

Mauerpark was created from an area of what had been the death strip following the course of Schwedter Straße.


A couple walk their dogs in Mauerpark


There's a gentle slope at the eastern edge, just beyond the Max-Schmeling-Halle. I've seen children (and adults too, actually) sledge down it when the snow's thick enough, but it isn't today; the children are all still in school right now anyway.

U-Bahn: 
Eberswalder Straße (U2) - also convenient if you want to stop at Konnopke's first!
Bernauer Straße (U8) - take a walk along Bernauer Straße, a street which was divided by the wall.
Topics: 
A park in what used to be the wall's death strip.

I head south from Bornholmer Straße station towards Mauerpark (wall park). The smell of coal smoke hangs thick in the air and everything seems to be rendered in shades of grey.

That's the cue for another black and white moment, I think...

I still have strong memories of coming here in the snow in early 2005, so after the morning's snowfall, I couldn't resist coming back to take a look again.

S-Bahn: 
Bornholmer Straße (S1, S2, S25, S8, S85)
Traces of the wall between Bornholmer Straße and Bernauer Straße.
Topics: 

The Marienkirche is the oldest consecrated church in Berlin. It was built in the 13th century, first mentioned in 1292 though thought to date from slightly before that. The tower was added in the 15th century, built of Muschelkalk (shell-bearing limestone) from Rüdersdorf (to the east of Berlin). The original spire was quite different; the current copper spire was added in 1789-90 by Carl Gotthard Langhans, who was also the architect of the Brandenburg Gate.

S-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (S3, S5, S7, S75)
U-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (U2, U5, U8)
Topics: 
One of Berlin's oldest churches.

The snow is still falling as I step out of Hackescher Markt station. It only settles lightly on the ground, but enough to turn the city an icy white.


The Berliner Dom, with the Friedrichsbrücke in foreground


A gypsy woman sits huddled round an accordion on the Friedrichsbrücke, playing a slow, plaintive tune that carries far beyond the bridge, the swirling snowflakes mixing with the music's delicate melancholy.

S-Bahn: 
Hackescher Markt (S3, S5, S7, S75)
Berlin at its most wintry (almost!).
Topics: 

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