Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's Berlin Time!

I am happy to report that I am currently sitting in my new home for the next two week in Berlin, Germany. I spent yesterday traveling over the Atlantic Ocean and landed safely this morning at 7:30 a.m.. I got off the plane excited for my new adventures, but unfortunately my checked bag wasn't as excited to come along. I am waiting on its delivery, hopefully soon.

Following my baggage drama, I found my way to meet my Airbnb contact, Jannik, to get the key to the apartment I will be staying in. (From the airport, I made a bus to train transfer at the Alexanderplatz station, but unfortunately I didn't see the "Fast Lane." I'm hoping it is just in another section of the train station.)  My two dance friends, Ryoko and Elizabeth, are meeting me here, at the apartment, tomorrow evening and we will all be sharing the place together. It might be tight, but completely adequate because we are close friends.

After I settled in, dropped my bags off, and sent an email to my parents telling them I was alive, I went for a five hour walk around Berlin. Now, I am sitting on the couch exhausted with my legs and feet swelling as I type.

I want to share with you the Hot Spots I've already seen Berlin and take you through my day. The red type is factual information about each location Hot Spot and the bold black type is my tour guild voice taking you from spot to spot. Within these texts you can find links to the official websites, so you can learn more.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I started my adventure by walking North of my apartment (right next to the Eberswalder Str. U2 train station) to the State Ballet School Berlin. I wanted to see the school and determine whether it was a manageable walk to take every day. It's a little over 30 minutes away, so it's possible, but not ideal when we'll be dancing for six hours a day.

State Ballet School Berlin. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
The State Ballet School Berlin offers state certified diplomas for dance education unique for the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the only school in Germany where the students are educated academically along with their dance training. Interestingly enough, the Ballet School united with the Academy for Acrobats in 1991

Next, I grabbed a five euro lunch (salad, banana and tea) at a grocery store and took the streetcar South to the Museum Island.
Altes Nationale Museum. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

Museum Island is the northern tip of the Spree Island. Six thousand years of history and culture are stored along its museums. You can start your historical journey in Egyptian times, through to Christian and Islamic art, and through to 19th century European art.

It houses the following museums:

  • The Altes Museum (Old Museum) offers artifacts from Etruscan, Greek and Roman art.
  • The Bode Museum is a collection of sculptures and treasures from the middle ages until the 18th century.
  • The Museum of the Ancient Near East houses some of the oldest examples of script on cuneiform tablets from Uruk. It also presents the Processional Way and the Ishtar Gate from Babylon recreated with thousands of colour glazed bricks.
  • The Münzkabinett (Numismatic) Museum offers Byzantine art from the 3rd to 19th Centuries, as well as a selection of valuable coins and medals from Antiquity to the 20th Century.
  • The Neues Museum (New Museum) is a collection of Egyptian and Early history. The bust of Nefertiti is the central attraction.
  • The Pergamon Museum is a three-winged museum by Alfred Messel. It exhibits ceramics, glass, metal and ivory, as well as the sandstone facade of an early 8th Century palace from the Jordanian desert. It is currently under reconstruction.

While I was wondering the Island, there was a wonderful crafts fair (Kunstmarket am Zeughaus). I started speaking (in English) to a local artist about his pottery as I admired his beautifully glaze mugs and bowls. I bought one of his light green with a teal glaze-drip handmade mugs. I will have such wonderful memories went I sip my tea in his mug in Raleigh, NC.

Kunstamarket. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
The Berliner Kunstmarket is a art market where local artists and antique collectors are able to present their goods; it is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Berliners loved the art and culture of this market so much that it has been expanded four times.  You can find traditional fine art (paintings, graphics and sculpture), new art (photography, digital art) and fashion design. Every artist must be involved in the creative process to be able to present the work at the market. Kunstamarket offers new fashion designers the opportunity to sell their own creations to a culturally interested audience.

As I walked around through the Kunstamarket, I passed some interesting characters. There was a man playing music on the rims of wine glasses and a man selling pretzels alongside his son paying the saxophone. 

Glass music. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
Pretzel and Saxophone family. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

Next, I walked towards the Lustgarten ("Pleasure Garden" in German) to find the Berliner Dom.

Berliner Dom with the Lustgarten to the left. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
The Lustgarten is situated between the Berlin Dom (Cathedral) and the Altes Museum. It is used by locals and tourists as a resting and meeting spot to lounge in at their leisure.

The history behind this garden is quite interesting. The plot of land was first used as a garden to grow fruits and vegetables for the nearby City Palace, Stadtschloss. In 1640, it transformed into a royal garden that involved ornate landscaping including flower beds and herbs. In 1713, the pleasure garden was reduced to a military parade square. In 1830, the Altes Museum was built and the area was once again designed to serve as a suitable accompaniment. Again, in 1934, the garden was paved down to make a parade square by the Nazis. After WWII, the area became part of East Berlin and yet again became utilized as a public space for public gatherings, as it is today.

I used the Lustgarten to rest my legs before investigating the church I saw ahead. I found out it was the Protestant church of St. Petri - St. Marien. The exterior of the church reminded me so much of the Cathédral St-Etienne that I saw last summer in Toulouse, France. (Here is my blog post about it.) Both churches have such an interesting mix of history presented on its exterior that you can't help but want to learn more about it. I sat in the church for a few minutes to take in its beauty while an organist played wonderful music.

The interior of St. Petri - St. Marien church. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
The St. Petri - St. Marien church began construction around 1270 as an early Gothic hall church. In the 15th century, it acquired the tower at the front. In 1720, a mechanical organ was built into the church and a couple years later the gilded decorations were added. Finally in 1790, the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans (the architect of the Brandenburg Gate) crowned the tower with a Baroque and Neo-Gothic dome. 
St. Petri - St. Marien church with Fernsehturn TV tower in the background. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

Next, I found myself at Media Market. Originally, I was attracted to the art around it. I didn't actually go into the shopping mall because I am in no need of more electronics, but the art and architecture was intriguing.

The Media Market is the German and Europeans market leader in costumer electronics industry. They offer household appliances, costumer electronic, and telecommunications. Unfortunately, I could not find any information on the wall art and sculpture online.

Media Market. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

At the Media Market I found a "Sausage Man" who didn't need a cart to sell sausages. New York City needs some of these portable food sellers around Times Square!

Sausage man. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

As I was about to call it a day because I was getting tired, I walked into a festival at Alexanderplatz. The entire square was full of shopping tents, street performers, and interactive games. The shopping tents were different than those of Kunstmarket craft market. These vendors were selling hippy cloths, jewelry, bags, and such. People of all ages were having a great time and it was fun to photograph them. By researching the event did I learn it was a Peace Festival.

The Friedensfestival Berlin is an organization that encourages the Berlin community to agree with the objectives of the United Nations pertaining to peace, equal rights, non-violence, and social progression. The "Peace Festival" invites empathic and creative minds for an active engagement towards world peace. Whether through information booths, the stage programs, the street theater, or the oasis of peace, everyone can get involved.

Friedensfestival Entertainment. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu. 
Friedensfestival Entertainment. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
Friedensfestival Food. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu. 
Friedensfestival Street Art. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu. 
Friedensfestival Street Theater. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu. 

I got a second wind of energy from the Festival and decided to walk back to the apartment. I wanted to get a feel for the Mitte neighborhood I am living in. Of course, I stopped into almost every fashion store; my excuse was because they are all having sales! These are two funny sights I spotted during my walk.

Fashion in Berlin. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.
White Trash Fast Food. Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

I found myself back home with some wine and meat I got at a market next door. What a beautiful sight to look out to as I share with you my wonderful first day in Berlin. 

Instagram Photo by Cecilia Iliesiu.

Starting tomorrow, I will have my days full of dancing and being a tourist every other minute. I will say "Auf Wiedersehen" ("Goodbye" in German) for this month and hope to check in after my trip. I will be updating my photography travel blog almost daily, Capturing Cecilia's Canon, as a way to keep my friends and family up-to-date with what I am doing.

I have come a long way since I started this blog on June 2nd and I can say I am better off having shared my research with you, my viewers, through this blog than I would have on my own. I hope you will travel to Germany some time in your life because I can already tell it's a wonderful city full of endless possibilities. 

Haben einen schönen Sommer! Have a wonderful summer!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feeling like a Foreigner

Today, I searched the web for an American blogger who had already published a few posts about their time in Germany. I wanted feedback for what I am going to expect next month. I will be living with two of my American friends for the first two weeks of the trip in Berlin. Then for the final two weeks, I will mostly be on my own. I am looking forward to this because it is something I have never done before. I see it as my ultimate freedom. A new country, new culture, new people with no constant iPhone and internet connection - just the freedom to roam the world.

The Resident on Earth blog is written by a woman named Jen who moved from the United States to Germany to live with her boyfriend, who she calls “The Mann.” I love her narrative style of writing and the subjects she addresses through her variety of posts on German moviesGerman food, German toilettes, and much more.

I want to share with you a post of hers, The Foreigner, that I really enjoyed and I thought pertained directly to my desire to prepare myself for a German life. She shares with her readers the experience she had returning back to the U.S. after a few months of living in Germany with The Mann.

German Architecture from Jen's blog.

At this point in Jen's life (on April 26th, 2011), she is in a state of reverse culture shock. Although she was an American, who only lived in Germany for a few months, Jen felt that she was returning to her home country as a foreigner. The amount of high-pitched noises, different races of people, and bad fashion are a few of the things that shocked her as she entered the Chicago airport. She felt like an alien in her own country.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

48 hours in Stuttgart

As I am continue my list of places to see and things to do in Germany, I stumbled upon this fabulous blog called the 48 Hour Adventure. I figured I'd use this opportunity to introduce this blog to you and plan my few days in Stuttgart with my wonderful cousin Ana Despina. She recently moved there to attend film editing school and I am lucky enough to be able to visit her for a fews days after my ART of dance program in Berlin. This post is quite appropriate for me because I will only have about 48 hours in Stuttgart with Ana Despina. I will not only use the information from the original 48 Hours in Stuttgart post, but I will also find new ideas and other places.

Hot Spots

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Stare Challenge in Zurich

I want to share with you an attraction that's made Zurich's Hauptbahnhof train station a Hot Spot. Digital Buzz blog always has fun, short updates on the latest social and digital trends. They make you realize how technically advanced the world really is. As in previous posts, "Fast Lane" in Berlin and TUM slides in Munich, this project is a fun way to engage the public to make a happier world.

The Stare Challenge installation is not necessarily art related, but more technologically driven to promote a product and engage the public. The person's goal is to be able to stare at an image of the Samsung S4 for 60 seconds, without looking away. Your rewards is to receive a free phone of your own. Trouble is there are distraction, such as barking dogs at your feet, animated guitar players, arguing couples, motorcycle crashes, etc.  This is a creative and interactive campaign that involve personal and interactive events so that the product goes viral. It certainly will create a buzz on the new Samsung product and make travelers more likely to stop at the Hauptbahnhof station! I know I will!

I leave for Germany in four days!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Top Ten Hot Spots in Berlin

I am going to be a bit of a tourist in this post and list my top ten attractions in Berlin. I am getting a bit anxious about my trip to Germany because I have so much left to do before I go. This list of Hot Spots should help me make sure I see all the important sites while I am there.

Clockwise: Brangenburg Gate, Reichstag, Berlin Dom, Holocaust Memorial
  1. Brandenburger Gate
  2. Reichstag 
  3. Berlin Dom or Berlin Cathedral 
  4. Holocaust Memorial 
  5. Grunewald
  6. Bauhaus Archives - Museum of Design 
  7. Charlottenburg Palace & Gardens
  8. Berliner Dom 
  9. Potsdamer Platz 
  10. Checkpoint Charlie 

This list was a compilation of several tourist websites.

Although this video does not list my Hot Spots in the same order, we have similar attracts that must be seen in Berlin. I am creating a list of must-sees so that I can check them off as my time there flies by. I leave for Berlin in six days!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to Travel like a German Local

I am going to be doing a lot of traveling around Germany next month and as my local German friend Hinako said, trains and buses are the way to get around! Although flights within Europe are super cheap, there is something calming about seeing the land zoom by on land transportation. A plane might be faster travel time, but by the time you add the transportation to and from the airport, the security check, the waiting, the delays, you have missed the sights by land. Hinako mentioned these three companies that I should use to get from city to city.

Big cities within Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, United Kingdom

  1. Flex (in Comfort 1)
  2. Semi-Flex (in Comfort 1 or 2)
  3. No-Flex (in Comfort 2)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Fast Lane" in Berlin

I wanted to continue with my series on the contemporary public art in Germany’s Hot Spots, as I did with TUM slides in Munich. These fun art installations give culture to otherwise dull structures, such as university buildings or subway stations. In this post, I want to share with you Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. The project is dedicated to making everyone’s life as simple, as easy, and as fun as possible. They want personal, environment-friendly, and entirely different projects that will upgrade our lives. The award entries are truly fascinating and makes me wish I came up with the ideas myself. Most of their installations have been in Stockholm, Sweden with Piano Stairs, Speed Camera Lottery, and Bottle Bank Arcade Machine. All these projects promote good behaviors for the soceity in a creative way that compels you to do it. I love it!