Autumn is well upon us, and starting to get that leaving feeling now. Wandering around Berlin with the camera.
Theres something about returning home that somehow heightens the appeal of the German autumnal landscape. So one last set?
Louisenplatz at night. Its a popular bierfest spot, and kind of a nice space that we more often just pass through on the way to the lake, without stopping to notice.
So i make a couple of outings into the city. This is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews. Some 3 thousand concrete blocks laid out in a semi geometric pattern, with the ground level rising and falling.
It consists of a large maze of concrete blocks, with a museum beneath, interesting concept.
Various remnants of the Berliner Mauer / wall are to be found here and there, as it snaked its way through the city with no discernible system.
This is an original length found at Niederkirchenstr near the excavations of the former gestapo headquarters, and Checkpoint Charlie.
Near the zoo, is a bombed church that got preserved in its busted state. Kaiser Wilheim.
Part of the lovely floor mosaic.
And the lovely (cracked) barrel vault mosaic.
Its modern replacement made entirely of unusual hand made glass tiles.
So we make a trip to see a relative who lives at Dresden, a couple of hours south of Berlin. Dresden is kind of famous for its very heavy bombing campaign in the last month of the war. The UK and USA dropped a combined total of four million kg of explosives on the city center over a two day period. Try to comprehend how much destruction that looks like. It was done in three passes, first high explosives to take the roofs off and destroy water mains. Then incendiaries to burn the now exposed buildings, and then a final additional explosive pass to hinder firefighters. Thorough huh...
Dresden in spite of being heavily bombed, had good chunks of the old city rebuilt to the plans of the original buildings, including the Frauenkirche and the Schloss.
Part of the Schloss. The place is under heavy maintenance at present, and by the look of it, likely forever.
Its quite lovely.
Not at its most photogenic with scaffolding and safety barriers all over.
Part of the palace.
A magnificent mural along the entire length of the old royal stables.
One of two large market squares.
The Frauenkirche is magnificent and unlike your average church, being kind of circular shaped. After it was bombed to near oblivion, services were held in the wreckage for a time, then the russians left the pile of rubble for more than 50 years as a monument of sorts, and incredibly it was completely rebuilt around the year 2000 using the original plans, and some of the original stone.
You can climb to the top of the dome, and this is a shot of the spiral ramp between the inner and outer shells.
Where there is a good view over the city.
Looking the other direction to the palace,
GDR highrises, and actual hills.
The two large squares, and the GDR cultural center at right.
All in all a stunning lookout area at the top of the main dome. Busy though, standing room only.
There is a small round skylight in the very top of the dome, and this is looking straight down.
Partial view of the dome interior.
Alter and organ at the front.
Alter detail, in memory of the destruction. Destroying that church came out of a fierce bombing campaign where the allies had decided that by bombing city centers instead of just handpicking military targets they would set war progress back further due to the destruction of transport hubs, communications, water, power and other infrastructure.
That's no mural, that's a dead center aligned view looking up in to the dome. You can see the first dome, the upper dome, and the skylight.
Cultural center mural. Distinctively GDR art.
Another church and the schloss behind.
"New" Dresden, and the flat where we stayed.
18th century Schloss Moritzburg, surrounded entirely by water on a man made island.
Autumn colors descending upon Lenestrasse.
Sansouci in nice light.
Potsdamer platz at night.
Brandenbuger Tor. Probably the number one tourist attraction in Berlin. But Its just a gate, a slightly bigger one that the one of the same name in Potsdam (pictured above).
GDR housing and tile mural.
Run down housing. Property that was confiscated either during the nazi regime, or under soviet rule, in the former east germany, apartments can sometimes get quite run down, because their ownership is unclear or contested. Home to squatters, migrants, artists, gays, climate protesters and what have you.
Schloss Cecielenhof in the new gardens. A modest abode built for one of the kings relatives.
Looking down 4 floors to the Lime Tree leaves starting to fall.
Alley of chestnuts near the monkey path entrance to park san souci.
A bike ride takes me on a bit of a detour trying to locate a bridge to get back across the Havel, becasue the ferry schedule changed for the winter last week.
Theres lots of old steel bridges in this country.
Magnificant mixed forest of oak, beech, birch, sycamore.
Former times the Bridge of Spies. Potsdam was just outside of the west berlin enclosure.
The park by the main Potsdam church.
So, mindful that i hadnt yet got out to say hello to the folks at Lebensgarten, perhaps Germanys first and oldest ecovillage, i made a 3 day trek out west, beyond Hannover to Steyerberg. Its a clear and decidedly frosty morning, the intercity train crosses a crunchy white landscape.
Lebensgarten made its home in the early 80s in an ex WW2 explosives plant, or rather a 60 odd unit housing complex built for some of its workers. The houses are 3 or 4 unit terrace housing.
The whole facility was solidly built and the layout pretty much tailor made for an ecovillage, with a very large common building. Which in its day served meals for 700 workers a day. Nowadays its primarily used for seminars. But theres also a cafe, a teen hangout space, a shop / produce coop, as well as a zen sanctuary, and several administrative offices.
The gardens are on an adjoining property managed by PALS, Permaculture Park at Lebensgarten. Lebensgarten and Permaculture kind of happened together as the Kennedys were instrumental in bringing Bill Mollison's work to Europe. I spent a truly magic couple of days yarning with Declan into the wee hours. Sadly Margrit is no longer with us.
We went through the fuss to get permission to visit the Bundestag, so turned up on the allotted rainy day.
It has one of the largest elevators ive ever seen, and made all the more bigger with its infinity mirrors.
Looking west toward Tiergarten, decidedly autumnal now, after a couple of good frosts
The Bundestag, looks old on the outside, but was in fact only recently rebuilt to near the old design, the former had been bombed in the war. Inside it's shiny new. On top there's a glass dome that is supposed to represent transparency in government. Here's wishing it be that simple.
Looking down into the main plenary chamber itself.
Back to Sansouci, all the marble statues now have their winter covers.
A wonderful old town map found on my palace tour day.
So i visit the old and new summer palaces. They are both grand, but the new palace rooms are much much bigger. This is the old palace, the reception room i think.
Frederich the great, 5 foot 3. Battle strategist and architecture extraorinaire. Rather dashing dressed up in his riding best.
Bedrooms, guest rooms, music rooms, etc they all look alike. Rococo mad.
His actual flute and piano forte.
Looking from the windmill over the top of the old orangerie to one of the many palace orchards. Miserable day, cold and wet.
There was a good breeze and the windmill was in full operation, it was quite a sight. As well as having 3 floors of excellent displays about the history of flour milling in the area. The mills had royal protection, as they formed part of the tax collection system. You were only allowed to mill you grain in the town mill, so a portion could be diverted to the aide of king and country. It was a wee bit scary standing so close to all these moving blades and giant wooden gears.
Moving on to the Neues Palais which was built over 3 floors, and has recently had extensive renovation.
Some of the paintings are enormous. Parquet floors, silk lined walls, gold leaf everywhere. Some of the furniture is finding its way back from private collections as it comes up for sale.
And the final room on the tour is the grand marble ballroom. Its a total of 600m2, and the oak floor beams span 20 meters. Supporting 60t of inlaid marble floor. I could have stayed a whole hour just in this one room, alas the tour guide hustles you along.
The ballroom central window which looks directly down the 3km main path to the Egyptian column. Ok so it was foggy and rainy.
The locals are all wrapped up for the winter.
The days are now very short and the streets filled with shade all day long.
The neighbours fiery red trees.
Easy german art meets autumn leaves, meets Kreutzberg graffiti.
Oberbaumbruecke bridge, rebuilt for the opening of the U bahn in 1896. The nazis blew up the middle section to slow the red army down, subsequently rebuilt in steel.
The main target of my outing was to see the east side gallery, which is the longest section of remaining wall, its near the tree bridge.
Post 1989, artists were invited to decorate the wall.
Some good art there for sure.
Well the back side is just grafitti, its a rough neighborhood.
But as luck would have it my walking route discovers all sorts of interesting places, squatters camps, bombed brick gothic churches, and stunning woodlands.
This church had a large park along one axis that was originally a canal.
A lovely spot, with long shadows.
And here is the church.
The tree bridge is a popular sunset photo spot. Today just this view of the S bahn station, its old brick overpass, and the telecom tower.
Its starting to get dark and cool after 4pm.
And this park on a shortcut home. Berlin, we will miss you.
Quite different trees in a quite different land. In Singapore despite the heat and humidity, we head down to the Bay Gardens, where the climate overwhelmed us, and we tried again later in the evening.
Whereupon we encountered unexpected crowds. Turns out the locals only go out at night when its cooler.
I mean, the bay gardens are cool, but its a man made environment, like everything here.
The highlight for me is always the chance to enjoy food from the indian quarter. And this time of year little india is all dressed up for Divalli.
Our AirBnb was in a colonial shop precinct. The broad verandahs so typical of the area, protect you from both rain and sun.
Having an extra day we head off, somewhat intrepidly, to Sentosa. Mad dogs and englishmen in the mid day sun.
The beaches threre are surprisingly nice, and the water was just delightful.
Sunrise headed across the ditch, a new day, marks the start of a new adventure.