Berlin, Germany: Steel and Glass

reichstag, berlin [see all]

Berlin, Germany - On the 21st, I made my way to Berlin and was met at the airport by Lars Kirchhoff, one of the guys. After waiting in the train terminal for awhile, Andreas Voeltz arrived, and we made our way to the Aquadom for a beer (Andi gets really excited by visitors and takes them straight to interesting attractions. :). At night, the Aquadom looks like a mysterious cylinder both glowing with and reflecting the blue light illuminating it from above; it's very cool. After sitting for awhile, we went to the Berlin version of a Tiki bar, complete with a sandy floor and drunken teenagers (legal here) making noise in a really annoying way. It is strange, however, to enter a setting like that from the cold rain. I drank a speciality drink that Andi was excited about, and then proceeded to drain a large glass of something called a "Zombie," which was not the best idea, because its after-effects lingered on for more than two days. I haven't had an alcoholic drink since then.

aquadom, berlin [see all]

I was fascinated by the architecture of Berlin (which still seems to be in constant construction). We toured the Reichstag, a metal-and-glass hemisphere which bubbles up from what looks on the outside like a more traditional building, perhaps the result of a rebuilding after the destruction of World War II. The middle of the Reichstag features an inverted cone of segmented mirrors designed both to support the structure and cast ambient light down into the meeting areas below. It looks like a power "core" from a science fiction movie. And speaking of things like look like power sources, the Aquadom was interesting as well. Andi arranged for a meeting with the head of the SeaLife center (which I believe shares management in some way with the Aquadom), and afterwards we wandered through the small aquarium and then took the elevator that bores its way up the center of the Aquadom. There is no real reef to speak of in in the Aquadom, but the structures invoke a scene underneath a pier constructed in deep water, and schools of fish float by with a grid of hotel room windows in the background.

potsdamerplatz [see all]

Potsdamerplatz has beem completed since my last visit, casting off blues, purples,and oranges in its modern glory. When I was here last, cranes littered the area around the plaza, and I saw a only model of the plan for Potsdamerplatz, which was housed in a trailer. What I am finding to be strange are the historical buildings sprinkled throughout the shining metal and glass. In Potsdamerplatz, one of the historical buildings was elevated, moved, and then enclosed by glass. I can't say I really like the look, but it gives Berlin a look that is different from other places I've been.

Elsewhere, we passed modern residential buildings, one of which was just a plain yellowish rectangle with little slits in it. Unfortuntately, it sort of looked like a projection of the future from the 70s. I'm certain that it will be glaringly out of style in the years to come.

While in Germany, I spent all of my time with the folks with whom I kept company in Antibes last year. Andi, Lars, Aline,and Laura made my stay enjoyable, hosting me with selfless generosity. We even managed to get a bit of *real* conversation in among the never-ending talk of underwater photography. ;)

the boys: markus, lars, me, andi [see all]

Markus Nolf, a young biology student and photographer from Innsbruch, took the train in to spend the day with us. His trip so far marks the longest distance a relative stranger has ever traveled to meet me! A self-proclaimed anglophile (nearly perfect English!), he was thoughtful, mature, and intelligent -- a glaring contrast from some of the drunken teens the two of us observed on the S-bahn late at night. I was thinking about his visit after he boarded the train back to Austria: with electronic communication ubiquitous these days, I worried that it has become easy for people -- especially younger folk -- to be exposed to too much, too early. When I was Markus' age, I was on (and had been on) a focused path with studies in computer science and music. I didn't have much exposure to things that would have been unattainable then, and if I had been distracted too much from my studies, I might not have been able to develop a strong foundation in anything. In some ways it seems like it would be easier to be sheltered a bit...? Anyway, Markus posted some photos as well.