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October 23, 2009

My Berlin Adventure...

20 years earlier, the Berlin wall was brought down, today the city is a wonderful place to explore and learn of its history (my great grandparents were German citizens). Wandering the streets, you come across public art everywhere! They are very into their graffiti artists, whole sides or backs of buildings can be found with art ranging from self expression to the political. The DZ Bank, by The Brandenburg Gate, has a wonderful Frank Gehry design, which can be seen from the lobby. All this can be seen on my website:

You can purchase a weeklong transit card at the airport and then start by taking a bus from the airport to the city. They have many choices for public transport, as well as being a wonderful walking city! Everyday we mapped out a different area to visit and did a walking tour of the sights to be seen. In between the sites, we discovered interesting places to eat and experience as well. East Berlin still has enough older buildings to give you the feel of what went down during the time of the wall being up. Two rather long sections of the wall still stand, one is being painted on from artists around the world, and the other is left, as it was when the people started chipping through it in 1989. We were also told about some cold war towers that still stood in the woods of Teufelsberg.

Hiking to an abandoned Cold War listening station was one of the scarier things we ventured to do. A friend of ours said it was not to be missed, and gave us detailed instructions on what train to take, and then how to hike there. She did not tell us about sneaking in.... It is situated in the Grunewald forest and built from rubble after WWII. In 1972, the hill was "naturalized" and 1 million trees were planted around the site, making it almost invisible until you are actually upon it. The US National Security Agency (NSA) built this huge listening station, which includes five domes and office buildings, now all in a state of crumble. Buried underneath it is a Nazi-military-technical college designed by Albert Speer in the 1940s, which was destroyed by the Allies. What scared me most was that it had three fences around it with only two openings cut out, and the sound of crashing bottles told me something about who inhabited the towers at the moment. We did not venture in, had we; we would have experienced the incredible panorama of the city. Apparently, you can climb up one tower and the sounds and views are just incredible. Artists also have begun trying to create a future for the towers, making it a place of creative conversations. A flashlight is also suggested, since their are no windows inside. A staircase on the outside brings you to the second floor, and then you need to use the inside, windowless staircase to go to the top. The sound experience from the dome is said to be incredible. Even the tiniest sounds are echoed throughout the dome. I am not sure if you need to have the musicians with you, or you can hear them from afar...

It certainly was a trip of adventure and intrigue with many art sightings thrown in! I am sure that my work will be inspired by this fascinating journey. Callie