Tuesday, August 08, 2006

World Cup fußball fever in Berlin

The bear, a symbol of Berlin, lit up in honour of the World Cup

Back when I was booking my air ticket, I hardly even realised I had booked a flight out of Germany while the World Cup would be on. However because I didn’t book my flight into Germany until the last minute, the best of the few options left me with only 2 nights and a day in Berlin… I had to get sightseeing quickly!

Sunset as I flew into Berlin, and the brand new Hauptbahnhof, only just opened!

I arrived in Berlin on the night that Germany had just beaten Poland, so along with a friend of Greg & Andrea, who I was staying with, I went down straight away to see the party. Fußball, it seems is one of the few occasions where the Germans tend to get a bit rowdy – the Kufurstendamm (Ku’damm) was full of beeping horns, small cars hooning along with 8-10 people sitting in, around or on top of, waving German flags, flags of small obscure nations, who were perhaps not even participating in the cup, and even the odd brave Pole. The atmosphere was fantastic, pubs were making a killing selling beers on the street, and everyone was having a great time.

Fans driving down the Ku'damm, celebrating a German victory over Poland, one of Berlin's neighbours

Even football fans need to eat and drink: German fans pack out Burger King in the early hours of the morning after celebrating, and the Swedish occupation of a bar, from morning till the night of their game.

The next day was a real highlight of the trip. I had all of one day to see Berlin, and there was so much that I wanted to see. It was a day when Berlin felt more like the outreaches of Sweden than the capital of Germany, such was the influx of Swedes in anticipation of their match that evening. I started by wandering down the Ku’damm, past entire pubs populated by Swedes, and looked around all the World Cup stalls – I was sad to notice that there was very little Australian merchandise available!

Left: An exhibition of bears, painted by a representative of selected nations. Australia's is painted by Ken Done.
Right: the cupola of the Reichstag.

Left: the Brandenburg Gate - a symbol of division in the days of the wall, now a symbol of reunification.
Right: the Jewish Memorial

I spent most of the day looking around the famous sights of Berlin – the Reichstag with the amazing mirrored dome, the Berliner Dom, Checkpoint Charlie and the kitschy Soviet souvenirs on sale, Potsdamer Platz, the Jewish Memorial, Charlottenburg, and of course the famous Brandenburg Gate – which was the centre of the ‘Fan Mile’ – a pedestrianised zone, with thorough security at either end. Berlin is a fabulous city, from the bombed out church retained as a memorial to the signature traffic light men. I can’t wait to return!

Interior and exterior of Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche,
bombed by Allied forces during the war, and left as a memorial
One of the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall

Checkpoint Charlie, previously a checkpoint for non-Germans between East and West, and
Right: some of the kitschy war souvenirs for sale. You could also buy Army jackets, Matrioshka dolls and more

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh my god! do you know that I took a picture of the same part of that painting inside the ruined church. Its a great memorial of that time isn't it?- Caz :D