March 11, 2012

Spring!...and a trip to Berlin

This was a fortnight ago.

Before you ask - yes, we do have snow left.
Still spring.

This was yesterday, and higher up in the mountains.
The snow is getting wet and slushy.

We have had two wonderful weekends in a row, with sun and two-digit temperatures (speaking Centigrades!)
Unfortunately there was some more snowfall in the week between, otherwise I believe we would have been almost bare now.

Taking a break and looking at the view
I was in Berlin during the week, and as a consequence Fame had had two days off when I saddled her up on Saturday.
I felt we both needed a workout, so we headed up the mountainside for some intervall training.
Fame did not much bother with the intervalls.
She just found that gear marked "Maximum  speed" and took off.
I had to pick her up in the curves as I definitely did not want her to lose her footing at that speed, but otherwise I let her go.
It was a wonderful spring day, and we needed to air out the winter both of us.

I took her down to regain her breath a couple of times, but she did not take much time and was eager to go. I concluded that she is in a good shape, which is nice as we have the winter season behind us.

Saw some wonderful ice formations on the way down.
Unfortunately the camera does not do the colours justice, they were lovely opaque blue-green-grey in reality.
Made me think of the scene from the Lord of Rings when Frodo, Sam and Gollum is climbing up the mountain stairs to Mordor and the Nine Ringlords leave the ancient castle (which had this kind of colour).

This week I was in Berlin for a conference with my work.
I will leave you with some pictures:

Morning view from my hotel window

Checkpoint Charlie.
I am standing at the former East-Berlin side, looking towards West.

The American checkpoint is still left as a memory.
I guess no-one wanted a memory of the DDR one...

This picture is taken from the American checkpoint while the wall was in place.
We are looking towards East Berlin.

Picture taken shortly before the wall was built.
Taken from East Berlin side, looking towards West.

Nowadays only a few parts of the wall is left standing.
Where it once stood is marked with street stones so you can follow its earlier placement.

Here is one of three places where it is still left standing.

Brandenburger Tor in the background.

Brandenburger Tor.
What amused me was that straight on the other side, the former East, there was a Kennedy museum alongside a Starbucks coffee shop.

Hey, there's horses on the top!

And below!

My colleagues had to try a bike for seven.
One pilot, sweat and hard work for the others...

The famous street "Unter den Linden".
Used to be the epitome of style, but ended in East Berlin after WWII.

...where you still have some traces left from the East, strategically placed .

The famous car from the DDR-period, the Trabi.
Max speed 112 km/h (70mph), and made of hard plastic.
Two-stroke engine with noxious fumes.
Did not cost more than $200, so everyone should be able to afford it. If you were on the list and allowed to buy that is.
I remember when driving through West Germany in spring 1990, I saw many of them on the motorway behind a dark cloud of exhaust. Inside there were happy people, finally able to travel where they wanted.
Now a cult object.

Potsdamer Platz.
Bombed to pieces at the end of WWII.
The occupied sectors converged here and thus the area became no-mans land during the cold war,
placed in the mid zone of the wall.
Pink Floyd's "The Wall - Live in Berlin"
was played here in 1990, one of the largest rock concerts ever staged.

Potsdamer Platz in 1982.

 The fomer War Ministry in Benderblock where Stauffenberg was shot after the attempt on Hitler.
It is now suitingly enough museum for the German resistance during WWII.

Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin!