662 words on Travel
We had what pretty much has become our annual excursion of a big bunch of old flatmates this weekend. After going to Köln last year, this time we congregated in Berlin. It’s hellishly complicated to co-ordinate ten people and agree on when exactly one should meet, go places or have a break for substance use.
We opened by having a meal and going to the wonderful Dr Pong once more, some of us even playing Rundlauf finals. Plans for getting up early were ruined by that - heck I’m happy that I didn’t go and laminate to-the-minute programmes in Darjeeling Limited style…
After mastering the obstacles of needing to buy public transport tickets for all of us and managing to get all of us on the same U-Bahn, we took a tour of the Berliner Unterwelten which took us through some old bunkers and their history which ranged from the third Reich to people trying to escape from the GDR. The whole bit of paranoia and lying that comes with these structures is amazing - as is the infrastructure in itself. A nice thing about the tour through the bunker at Gesundbrunnen were the many signs they had put up in there which showed plenty of old West and East German typefaces used for signage. At the end of the tour we visited another bunker inside the 1980s-style Pankstraße underground station which hides behind the walls there and excels by having doors which can close themselves without killing anybody who’s stuck in the middle.
After that we went to the Martin-Gropius-Bau, had some coffee and looked the Richard Avedon exhibition they have there. I left far less than impressed with the impression of having seen boring photos of people I’m not interested in. First they had a bunch of fashion photos (yawn), then some celebrity stuff, then random people and finally photos Avedon took in Berlin at the new year 1990. Those last ones were pointless and the other ones seemed just the bland ‘interesting’ stuff that magazines will flock to buy.
A different way to put it: When photos are great, I find that even photos of things I’m not particularly interested in will be attractive. When the only photo that sticks is one of Janis Joplin, i.e. someone I have a high opinion of anyway, it’s not particularly convincing. In addition, I keep thinking that making prints that are ‘framed’ by the outer bit of the negative with text and all on it, is pretentious crap.
Sunday started with a big disappointment. And that may be too weak a word to express the behaviour of people at Café November. Let’s just say when someone specifically walks to a place to book a brunch table for ten to make sure we won’t have to run around to find a big empty space and the people just shrug when you arrive there and indifferently mumble something like
ugh some other people came, there’s no space, then you won’t become a regular at the place. After a bit of running around we finally found a bunch of seats along with food that pleased everyone, a charming French accent and a piano player at Café de Paris.
After the extensive breakfast, we strolled around the flea market at Mauerpark - definitely not my cup of tea, both because of the junk they have there and the fact that there seems to be no flea market without people burning some particularly disgusting kinds of incense. Before heading back home I followed Jan’s invitation to say hello at DevHouseBerlin at their office. It looked a bit like a MacBook zoo in there and I got to try a Club Mate which despite its alleged caffeine content didn’t prevent me from falling asleep on the train back home.
I will be making a similar schedule for when we have lunch in February.
Because, seriously, how is it I can end up in Germany every year and we’ve not yet met in person??
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