Sunday, August 14, 2016

Alternative Tour of Berlin

We've done more sightseeing in the past three weeks than we ever did in Izmir and I'm totally fine with it.  I feel like by the time we leave Berlin, we will have only skimmed the top of this city.  Last Monday, we did an alternative walking tour of the city.  We did the regular sight seeing tour the previous week, but this definitely provided an alternate look at the city...hence the name.   

The tour focused mainly on the street art around the city, but also talked about the squatters (both legal and illegal), gentrification, and some other alternative lifestyles that are around the city.  I'm not sure if I would take this tour if I was only in Berlin for a weekend, but if I was here for a week, it's definitely worth the time. 

In Berlin, it's a 50euro fine for littering and a 2000 euro fine for vandalism.  If you use spray paint, that is graffiti, but if you use paper and glue, it's only considered littering, so many artists, like this artist, choose to do pin ups.  These dancing girls can be seen around the city and are always close to somewhere where people can dance (clubs, outdoor performance locations, etc.).  What's really interesting is that our tour guide ran into one of these girls at a club and the girl had no idea that she was all over the city!

Little Lucy can also be found all around the city.  She is a remnant of an old Czechoslovakian television show.  The artist used a dark twist with her and now she can be found all around the town killing her cat in different ways.  I think it's supposed to make some sort of comment about communism....

We also saw all sorts of other street art besides 2D art.  There were all sorts of things throughout the city that I had never noticed before, but seemed to pop up wherever we went.  People tend to take these things, so it will be interesting to see if things have disappeared when we return to these locations.  Maybe we need one as a souvenir?

We went down an ally where there is a wall that is open for street artists.  Every few weeks, the art changes, so we will definitely be back to see what is new.

Berlin, you're going to make Donald Drumpf again? Yes please!

 The two pieces of street art that don't change in this alley are the Anne Frank piece and the astronaut.

After we left the alley, we walked a little ways and found these "stumble stones."  They are put into the side walk and raised up a little bit so that you stumble on them.  They have the names, jobs, and death date (if known) of Jews in Berlin.  They are usually placed in places that they worked or lived.  I think it's a pretty cool way to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

I think one of the coolest things we saw on the tour was this man, Osman.  When the Berlin Wall was designed and built, there was a flaw in the execution.  A piece of land that was owned by East Berlin ended up on the wrong side of the wall.  Lots of people in West Berlin placed their trash and unwanted stuff on this piece of property.  Osman, who lived in West Berlin, took it upon himself and created a garden on the property and built a makeshift home with all of the materials that were dumped.  He donated all of the food to a school that was across the street. He is now 91 years old and it's mainly up to his children and grandchildren to maintain the garden, but they do and Osman still sits in his yard and waves to people when the weather is nice.   He's also Turkish, so we made sure to say "Merhaba!" as we walked by :)

Our last stop was along the spree that runs through Berlin.  There is a cool hangout place called YAAM (Young African Art Market).  There is a bar, lots of chairs and hammocks, sand and even a place to play soccer.  They had a small gallery of artists who use spray paint, which was cool.

YAAM from across the spree.  I love how welcoming Germany is, too.  Everyone here is so kind. 

That night, we celebrated a great day with Dim Sum.  We had no idea what it was, but it turns out it's Chinese tapas!! How cool!! We ordered a lot of little dishes and tried them all out.  It was a ton of fun and delicious. Mike and I aren't always the best tapas partners since he wants all meat and I like vegetables, but we were able to compromise and got a few little dishes of good stuff!

sweet potatoes and tuna tar tar


korean pork chops


It was a fun day of new things! We both found the alternative tour extremely interesting and we now get excited whenever we see any of the street art around the city.  And, we'll definitely be returning for more Dim Sum :)

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