Berlin Writing Trip 2018 - Week 2

Sunday 11th March 2018 and it's 17 centigrade and sunny in Berlin. Spring has arrived and everyone was out enjoying the sunshine at Museum Island. Amazing change considering it was below zero here last week. 

 Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) built in 1905 in a neoclassical style and it looks older than it is.

Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) built in 1905 in a neoclassical style and it looks older than it is.

 Alte Museum - built in 1830 to house the Prussian Royal family’s art collection.

Alte Museum - built in 1830 to house the Prussian Royal family’s art collection.

 Alte Nationalgalerie - houses neoclassical and romantic art and also impressionists and some modernists works.

Alte Nationalgalerie - houses neoclassical and romantic art and also impressionists and some modernists works.

 Humboldt University - established in 1810 it is the oldest of Berlin’s 4 universities.

Humboldt University - established in 1810 it is the oldest of Berlin’s 4 universities.

March 12th 2018.

Looking out from my apartment into a rainy courtyard, I realise that I spoke too soon:
Yesterday, it was a balmy 17c with sunshine and I optimistically thought spring had come, but today I was brought back down to earth with 9c and raining. This is probably a more representative March day for Berlin.

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I'm constantly on the lookout for photo opportunities as I travel around Berlin.

 Busker at the U-Bahn this evening.

Busker at the U-Bahn this evening.

March 14th, 2018

RIP Stephen Hawkin. 
I think a quote from the 1997 film Gattica might be suitable here: 
"Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving... maybe I'm going home."

 Stephen Hawking died on 14th March 2018

Stephen Hawking died on 14th March 2018

The street artists never pass up a good opportunity to paint a mural, particularly on the sidewalls of apartment blocks.

 Apartment block at Warshauser Straße

Apartment block at Warshauser Straße

More painted buildings and shopfronts

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March 15th, 2018

Today I went to Betahaus cafe, close to Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg, to do some writing. This cafe is full of developers, writers, people from startup companies and others who use it as a co-working space - lots of bench tables with many plug points and free WIFI and of course, the cafe has excellent coffee to fuel the working day.

Nearby was yet another side of apartment mural.

Later I went Modulor which is a huge art materials supermarket, to buy a sketch pad and some pencils, as I plan to do some drawings while I’m here.

On the way back home on the U1 U-Bahn there was a woman laughing hysterically. At first, people just looked around to see who was laughing and why. After a few stops a lot of people were smiling and by the time I got off, quite a few, including myself were laughing - surprisingly infectious.

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March 16th, 2018

Berlin has more than 2500 public parks, many of them in small squares like this one at Boxhagener Platz, but there are also some very big parks like Tiergarten and Tempelhofer Feld and about one-fifth of the city is in trees and parkland.

 Boxhagner Platz which is a few minutes walk from my apartment

Boxhagner Platz which is a few minutes walk from my apartment

I visited the Neue Wache (guardhouse) a few days ago. It is the central memorial for victims of war and is situated on Unter den Linden. Inside is a single sculpture by Kollwitz showing a mother and her dead son (a bit like the famous Pieta). There’s a certain solemn stillness inside which feels like being a church as it is in total darkness except for the single shaft of daylight radiating from the open circular oculus in the roof above the statue. I felt transported to another place and time for a few moments and then I was back out into the light and hustle bustle of the city outside.

 Exterior of the Neue Wache building

Exterior of the Neue Wache building

 Interior of the Neue Wache building

Interior of the Neue Wache building

I was at the theatre on Friday night to see a production of “Robar El Dia” (Steal the Day) It was a Spanish production with English and German sub-titles (on different nights) projected above the stage. It was written and directed by Alfredo Felix-Diaz who attends the writing meet-up group which I go to several times a week. 
It's a drama set at the end of the first work war and it was an excellent production staged in The Delphi which is one of Berlin's few remaining silent movie houses from the 1920s repurposed as a theatre, complete with the traditional bar and people sitting around tables watching the performance.

 The Delphi - old style theatre with bar, people at tables and the performance behind. What a luxurious way to watch a play

The Delphi - old style theatre with bar, people at tables and the performance behind. What a luxurious way to watch a play

March 17th, 2018 - St Patrick's Day.

Although rugby is not a huge interest of mine, I'm delighted to see Ireland win the Grand Slam today on St Patrick's Day 2018. 
It was -5c here in Berlin today and hundreds of people turned out in the cold to celebrate the day and watch the matches (there were others, but only one really mattered). 
Well done Ireland.

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Sunday 18th, March 2018

Sunday 18th March was a cold -4c in the morning with a wind-chill factor of -9c.(amazing that it was 21 degrees warmer last Sunday) But it was also blue sky and blazing sunshine and outside it felt a bit like being a ski resort. I went to visit the Stasi Museum in Lichtenberg which is about 4 Km from my apartment and took about 45 minutes to walk there. It was well worth the journey and inside the main Ministry for State Security building, there were three floors open to the public, describing the history of the GDR from 1949 to 1989 and work of the Stasi in trying to mould the East German population into the Soviet model despite their resistance. The place is filled with pictures, videos artefacts of spying and texts showing the history of oppression, surveillance, imprisonment and eventual liberation after the fall of the Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany a year later. It’s a fascinating period of history for Germany and so recent, only thirty years ago.

 The Ministry for State Security, now part of the Stasi Museum

The Ministry for State Security, now part of the Stasi Museum

 Part of the Stasi headquarters compound

Part of the Stasi headquarters compound

 Stasi operation methods

Stasi operation methods

 Stasi spy equipment - hidden camera in a domestic radio.

Stasi spy equipment - hidden camera in a domestic radio.

Another week has passed and I've been writing most days (1500 to 2000 words per day) and I've now written 30,000 words (120 pages) of the first draft of my new novel. My time has been filled with, the writer's meet-ups 4 times per week (great motivation), meeting my Berlin friends, other tech meet-ups, writing my blogs, visiting museums and taking architecture street photographs.