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Arrival in Berlin

Rostock and Berlin


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I arrived in Berlin yesterday afternoon after a fantastic hotel breakfast and a completely uneventful 3.5-hour Flixbus journey from Rostock. I relaxed for the rest of the day, intending to begin some sightseeing the next morning.

Potsdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial were my first stops. Potsdamer Platz was bisected by the Berlin Wall during the Cold War and during this time became an area of utter desolation. It looks completely different now, but as I walked round and looked at part of the Wall which remains, I got quite emotional.

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This feeling continued as I wandered round the concrete stelae within the site of the Holocaust Memorial. According to the architect, the stelae were designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, though the number of stelae and the monument's overall design has no symbolic significance other than it represents a a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

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From there it was just a little bit further to the Brandenburg Gate.

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The Tiergarten, Berlin's most popular inner city park, lies across the road from the Brandenburg Gate. It started to rain just as I got there, so I didn't linger too long. I was on my way to a really interesting destination anyway, so I didn't really mind...

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...the Musical Instruments Museum!

Amazing - I definitely recommend it. It included a fascinating collection of crumhorns, shawms, dulcians (the predecessor of the bassoon), recorders, cornets, trombones and trumpets which were left to the Church in 1657 in the will of the choirmaster of St Wenzel's Church in Naumberg.

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Amongst a good range of other instruments going up until the first electronic guitars and keyboards, it also had such interesting things as Early Modern Flemish and Italian virginals and spinets, a Stradivarius violin, a serpent, a collection of pochettes (pocket fiddles, used by dancing masters and street musicians until the 18th century) and a 'giraffenklavier' (guess which one of my photos is if that...).

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My last stop before heading back to my hostel was Checkpoint Charlie (the best-known Berlin Wall border crossing, and now a tourist trap with no original buildings left; worth only a brief look).

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On my way back I passed through the Museuminsel, an area with lots of museums in it (a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance), and beyond. I found a small art market next to one side of the river and bought a lovely colourful little picture of an 'Indies Peafowl'. Also got some good views of the Fernsehturm and St Mary's Church, though I didn't go in.

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Posted by 3Traveller 03:36 Archived in Germany Tagged germany museum berlin hostel buses berlin_wall rostock brandenburg_gate unesco_world_heritage_site potsdamer_platz Comments (0)

Latin America in Germany

Rostock


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At school this week, in addition to more normal lessons there was preparation for a show, which was performed yesterday to parents but only within each class rather than to the school. I did Modern Cinderella with my class, though a more streamlined version compared to what I did with the older ones a couple of weeks ago. It was better for it and we had more time for scriptwriting and rehearsal too, though there were still definitely parts which could have been better and I know what tweaks to make to the process next time.

During the week we had food and a drink or two at the same brewery on Wednesday and Thursday, and yesterday we went to a Mexican/ Latin American restaurant/ cocktail bar for our last night together. There was salsa dancing to watch, a wood-fired grill, cheap but delicious cocktails during Happy Hour, and I had an amazing Argentinian steak with a baked potato with sour cream.

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It was a wonderful way to bring to an end the week in Rostock, the three-week period most of this teaching group has spent together, and my five-week winter teaching contract.I'm spending the next week between Berlin and Prague before I fly home. Although I'm widely travelled, for some reason I have never been to these two cities. Time now to put that right...

Posted by 3Traveller 08:06 Archived in Germany Tagged germany salsa cocktails brewery rostock english_teaching argentinian_cuisine Comments (0)

The German Baltic: Warnemünde

Warnemünde


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After class today my colleagues and I took the train to the port and seaside resort of Warnemünde, technically part of Rostock though over 10 km away. I heard that it contains one of Germany's best beaches, so I was particularly keen to look round.

Walking from the station to the beach;

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It was sunny but crisp and cold, so unsurprisingly we didn't see any swimmers! I did have a quick paddle, though; the water was very clear, but bone-chillingly cold; I'd never before been in a sea that felt like I'd had to break a hole in some ice first! The beach was lovely, though - mostly white sand, and very wide.

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It had a metal slide and rope climbing frame which some of us (including yours truly) had a go on.

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I loved the sand dunes, too.

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The town itself was interesting as well. There was a lighthouse and loads of seafood restaurants, colourful houses and traditional wooden boats. One or two Danish signs, reflecting the close proximity across the Baltic to the southernmost tip of Denmark.

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We had some food at an Italian - the fish was a bit too pricey for me, so I compromised with a salmon pizza - which turned out to be one of the best pizzas I've ever had; incredibly juicy and tasty, with massive chunks of fresh salmon, lashings of creme fraiche, spinach and the normal tomato sauce.

Posted by 3Traveller 12:44 Archived in Germany Tagged beaches coast germany rostock Comments (0)

A Moment of Time

Rostock


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Before transferring to Hotel Sportforum I went for another, longer walk round town.

My first destination was the Kröpeliner Tor, the tallest city gate, but to get there I walked through a park with a stream which followed the path of the old city fortifications.

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I also passed an old Franciscan monastery, now a museum - I didn't have time to go in, unfortunately, but was able to have a quick look at the courtyard.

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After looking at the Kröpeliner Tor I walked down the main pedestrianised street, passing part of Rostock University (the oldest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area) on my way.

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My next destination was the Marienkirche, which contains Rostock's pride and joy; a 12-metre high astrological clock, which is the only one in the world still with its original mechanisms. It was built in 1472 by Hans Düringer and is a sight to behold! Carved wooden signs of the zodiac lie around the centre, and at the top, when the clock strikes midnight and midday wooden figures of six of the apostles come out of a row of doors and parade round Jesus. I got to see this as I timed my visit specially on Sunday morning to coincide.

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Underneath the main part of the clock was a fantastically detailed disc which tells people the exact date on which Easter falls in any given year. Each disc has space for 130 years and the last disc expired and was replaced in 2017. I tried to find out when Easter will be next year, but it was so incredibly complicated I couldn't!

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It lies behind the main altar and had handily-placed seats in front. As I took a seat and gazed at it, enveloped in silence save for the low, slow but audible tick-tock of the clock, I was overcome with the sense of history. I could almost see the woodcarver who had carved the signs of the zodiac. Time hung around me, suspending me in the moment. I felt a great sense of calm and peace.

The rest of the church was interesting too. There were more model ships hanging from the ceiling (like at the Petrikirche), an impressively massive (almost) floor-to-ceiling Baroque organ, an embroidery dating from the 16th century and a large gilded triptych of which I unfortunately forgot to note the date and artist.

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The only downside to the who place was that it was freezing cold!

After getting some lunch from a bakery I admired the Town Hall in the Neuer Markt before returning to the hostel to pick up my bags.

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My walk to Hotel Sportforum took a lot longer than it should have done, firstly because another wheel on my big case broke so it became slower and more difficult to get it about, and secondly because I took a wrong turn. Still, although I was knackered by the time I arrived, there was some lovely scenery on the way. These crocuses were the first sign of spring that I noticed on this Central European trip.

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View from my window, Hotel Sportforum.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:42 Archived in Germany Tagged churches art buildings hotel germany museum monastery rostock fortifications Comments (0)

Maritime flavour of Rostock

Rostock


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I came to Rostock this morning via a very smooth, uneventful hour and half on a Flixbus from Lübeck. I'm staying at Jellyfish Hostel for the night, then meeting up with my co-teachers tomorrow at the hotel we'll be staying at for the coming week.

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After settling in to Jellyfish Hostel (pictured above, with the street it's on), I went for a lovely walk round town in the sunshine. The Alter Markt was my first stop.

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Overlooking the Alter Markt is the Petrikirche, a church with a nautical theme; model boats hung from the ceiling and there were circular windows which reminded me a lot of portholes. I lit a candle on the circular candle stand.

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I took the lift up the unusually high steeple to take in the views.

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Then I went for a stroll along the riverside.

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An unexpected elephant gazed protectively over the town from a rooftop.

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Tomorrow I plan to have another look round the town and visit some interesting places I didn't see today.

Posted by 3Traveller 00:40 Archived in Germany Tagged churches boats germany hostel buses rostock Comments (2)

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