Berlin, Mar 2018

Germany

Let all past emotions be frozen in film reels taken in late winter days.

Man at Görlitzer Bahnhof

Though it was actually a random capture, the photo delivered all the focus, motion and stillness of that transient moment.


Let the volume up!

Although it was not a holiday actually, I was always feeling as if I was in a magical dream, and Suzy’s soothing voice in the R&B beat of Holiday should always bring my memory back.


Checkpoint Charlie to Brandenburg Gate

This was not my first time being in Europe, as I had travelled there twice in the years before. And it was not for leisure as well, as I needed to work for one whole week. But still, I could bring home some of my best cinematography-like photos while wandering about Berlin.

Luckily I arrived there when the winter blast bringing Europe temperature down to -20°C had stopped. Then it was only hovering about 0°C, perhaps bearable enough for a tropical man.

Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Checkpoint Charlie Museum

My hotel was near Checkpoint Charlie, a symbolic Cold War relic - now becoming a public-accessible site for tourists. Everyday walking to my office I could pass by this memory lane, the Friedrichstraße, from East to West Berlin, though the direction was north-south.

Because it was late afternoon when I settled all things down, I just had a quick jog to Brandenburg Gate.

Sorry for the fact that all the photos here look cold and blue. Because the weather was actually cold outside.

Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
Outlook to Victory Column
Outlook to Victory Column
Towards Berliner Fernsehturm
Towards Berliner Fernsehturm

Potsdamer Platz

In a walking distance from Brandenburg sits Potsdamer Platz, a busy, modern public square with high-rise buildings (and it really has a long historical background). I came there for super-wide-angle long-exposure shots, in a drizzling rain at dusk.

The reflection effect due to wet roads played an important role in these photos, exhibiting lights in an untraditional way. It’s really worth it as enduring the cold rain to setup the tripod and waiting for minutes for the camera to shutter is something I usually do in photography, called anticipation.

Long-Exposure Shot...
Long-Exposure Shot...
...And a Customary Wide-Angle
...And a Customary Wide-Angle

Chasing the Sun

For the whole week being in Berlin, the forecast indicated merely days of cloudy or rainy weather, which was not ideal for photography, huh?

So I took utmost advantage of the rare sunny Sunday to reach as many places as possible.

Berlin Neighborhood

Pretty shiny close-up. And this is a photo from afar:

Französische Straße
Französische Straße

…towards Museum Island and Alexanderplatz

This area in Berlin-Mitte places a number of tourist spots, including Berliner Fernsehturm, churches such as Berliner Dom and Marienkirche, and lots of museums, that’s why it’s named Museum Island.

Berliner Fernsehturm, the tallest structure in Germany, is a typical landmark built from the communist East Germany era, which you can see from anywhere in the city.

Berlin from Height
Berlin from Height

As usual when visiting a city, I took a chance to go up to the panoramic floor and overlooked the miniature cars moving down there.

Berliner Fernsehturm
Berliner Fernsehturm

The sky was clear, which was a perfect backdrop for morning scenery photos.

Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Marienkirche
Marienkirche
Rotes Rathaus

Just a side note though, Berlin is not popularly perceived as a very Germanic city, because the population comprises a large number of diasporas, such as Turks, Eastern Europeans or Vietnamese. It’s so easy to grab a good Turkish kebab or Vietnamese beef phở there.

Walking in Berlin

Train to Oberbaumbrücke

I often take some rest at hostel in the hours of 12pm - 3pm as taking photo in this period will not ensure good result, it will be over-exposed. So from 3pm it’s the time I chase for the golden moment of the day: the magnificent sunset.

These photos would remind me of the route I took: from Stadtmitte, via Hallesches Tor and Görlitzer Bahnhof to Warschauer Straße.

Hallesches Tor
Hallesches Tor

Remember the hero image on top? It came with a twin brother.

I always feel as if that moment is awaken in my consciousness.

Görlitzer Bahnhof
Görlitzer Bahnhof

…finally I reached the Berlin Wall

If you travel to Berlin without catching a glimpse of the wall, it will be a big, very big miss.

Contrary to its notoriously bloody history, the wall - now covered by paintings, not graffitis (it’s called East Side Gallery), was really lively, with young men & women chit-chatting around, getting some beers, and anticipating sunset like me?

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall

The remnant of Berlin Wall stretches alongside Spree River, so get there first, then take a stroll from East Side Gallery to Elsenbrücke, where you can see the Molecule Man sculpture atop the river.

And not missing the double-deck Oberbaumbrücke, a landmark that bridges the two neighborhoods once divided by the Berlin Wall.

Oberbaumbrücke at Sunset
Oberbaumbrücke at Sunset
Oberbaumbrücke at Sunset Viewing Fernsehturm

The Working Days

There was no free time for me to go around Berlin on those days, but I realized I could spend time on a specific photography theme: night street.

Berlin Night Street

A perfect arrangement! Neon lights, water reflection, umbrellas and walking people. But helping me the most was my long-focus lens, which enabled capturing in-street frames. You don’t risk yourself standing right into the vehicle lanes, just stand on the walkway and zoom into the scene.

I forgot to include a photo from Checkpoint Charlie, and here is one:

Checkpoint Charlie at Night
Checkpoint Charlie at Night

The streets were Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, Charlottenstraße, Friedrichstraße, Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße, for recording purpose.

Walking in the Rain Walking in the Rain
Walking in the Rain

But whilst I was being fascinated by the night streets, it became noticeable to me that walking in the rain under the own umbrella was a typical representation of loneliness.

Berlin Night Street

Holocaust Memorial

The last working day when the tasks were cleared, I could get out of the office before dusk, thus visiting Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was not a bad choice, it’s just next to Brandenburg Gate.

Holocaust Memorial Holocaust Memorial

The gray stone stelae blended with cold cloudy ambience might depict the best picture of its meaning: despair and loneliness. Once entered the labyrinthine paths, you can only direct your eyes in 5 directions, NESW and upward. The massive blocks bear resemblance to the tombstones, isolating inside visitors from the busy street outside.

Last Day in Berlin

The day it reached -5°C but sunny, which was my lowest temperature experience. It was OK as long as there were no rain or wind.

Tempodrom
Tempodrom

Just walking without any marked destination. Teufelsberg had been among my checklist items, but seemed challenging as I would need to leave for the airport early. So I chose Anhalter Bahnhof, a large open public site where Tempodrom could be seen, and where the central façade portion of the notorious former railway terminus still remained.

And I would conclude this post with one of my most memorable photos throughout the trip, a man sitting in front of Anhalter Bahnhof.

Anhalter Bahnhof

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This post is a part of the Germany series.

Written in Mar, 2019 © Zuyet Awarmatik.

About

Zuyet Awarmatrip is a subsidiary identity within the personal ecosystem of Zuyet Awarmatik, focusing on travel and photography.

A Vietnamese currently and not permanently based in Singapore, he usually regards himself as a carefree solo Eastern backpacker, alongside with his main profession as a UX designer & developer. His photos shall always deliver the colorfulness of this worldly reality, rather than monotony and cheerlessness.

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