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Blast from the Past: Ich Bin Ein Tourist, Spreche Vouz Ingles? Berlin Part 1

December 3, 2009

This was a post I meant to write 3 months ago but drafted and never got around to. In an attempt to finish what I started, I’ll be posting a few posts on the very end of my European travels before I get around to all of the Korea posts I am also behind on writing.

For context: I spent 7 weeks in Europe following my May 2009 graduation as a celebratory trip (7 weeks, at the time the longest I had ever spent out of the country, now in retrospect seems like nothing…whew! I’ve been in Korea a long time… At 22 I don’t get the opportunity to say this dreadful phrase often enough, so: I’m dating myself here). The last two weeks of my trip was spent in Germany, with a few days in Munich and a few days in Berlin (and check the category list on the right sidebar for more posts on Munich and Europe in general).

Having arrived in Berlin alone and deep in bicycle withdrawal, on my second day in Berlin I decided to rent a bike on my own and go touring the city, a fantastically enjoyable experience and well worth the 12 Euros.

None of these people are me. They are other people on bicycles.

Erotic Museum

My first stop: fun for the whole family at the Erotik Museum.

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The German Bionic Bear Battalion of 1944

A little known fact of WWII: in 1944, Hitler created a battalion of bionic mutant bears that were magically imbued with the properties of the population the bears were meant to ravage and destroy, so that the bears would be able to sneak into the country surreptitiously and destroy everything.

The French bear warrior:

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The Berkeley, CA bear warrior:

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A statue of the god of the butterflies:

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My bicycle tour of Berlin began in a city park called the Tiergarten right next to my hostel, the park featuring long boulevards, lovely statues like this one above (which is actually a monument to some Prussian victory, with Athena, not a butterfly, on top) and naked sunbathers (no pictures, sorry).
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Next, I saw the monument to the Soviet troops (above) that fell in combat against the Nazis, right above the significantly smaller monument to the head-tilted-german-guy-with-sunglasses.
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Above, the monument to the tallest man in the Russian army

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The Reichstag, where the German parliament meets, also the site of the infamous Reichstag fire that incited the Nazi’s dictatorial takeover.

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The German parliamentarians queuing up on casual dress Friday

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The German oyster factory

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The Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the largest train station in Germany

The Berlinhof, a contemporary art gallery, had some great Warhols including this jumbo-sized chairman Mao

I was thinking about using their portable ladder-on-wheels to scale Chairman Mao and getting a shot of me resting my shoulder amicably over some fraction of his balding head. Great black and white photograph blow-up in the back right.

After Chairman Mao I figured I ought to do the Berlin grand tour of Communist and leftist luminaries, so I packed off for the Marx and Engels statue at the East end of Berlin’s Unter Des Lindens (the main artery of Central Berlin).

But hey, everyone nowadays visits the statue of Marx and Engels. I had to up the ante a bit if I had any chance of burnishing my socialist credentials, in case, for example, a socialist offered me a job (ha!). But yes, I did actually visit the graves of Marcuse and Hegel. An apparition of Hegel even appeared to me as I was standing at his grave. I asked him, “Are you really Hegel’s ghost?” And he replied, sarcastically “No, stupid, I am Spirit.”

I really hope no one got that, that was maybe one of the worst jokes I have ever made.

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