Mon 02/08/10 07:19

So knowing that I’d be leaving Dresden this afternoon, I decided to take a leisurely walk through the old part of the city. I have to say that today turned out to be one of the better days here. I’m not really sure why, and I’m not actually saying that it was fun, but for some reason since I was taking it relatively easy things just seemed a little bit more relaxed. I stopped for a brockwurst and beer on my way back to the hostel, and decided to have another brockwurst and beer, and when I finished that, I went back for another beer… So maybe that’s why Germans like their beer so much, it goes well with brockwurst, and makes everyday life just a little bit better. I can honestly say that after three beers, Dresden seems okay. :)

I’ve still got two hours before my bus leaves and I’m trying hard not to show up to the bus stop too early– like I always seem to do. For that reason I’m doing this right now, trying to think of things to write about to keep me at the hostel until about an hour before the bus leaves. I am starting to run out of things to write about though…

For anyone wondering why I didn’t post any images in the last post (or this post) it’s because the internet connection doesn’t seem to allow it. I tried this morning with the earlier post and then tried again just few minutes ago, and the browser just spins saying it’s waiting… so hopefully I’ll be able to add the pictures when I get to Amsterdam. Speaking of Amsterdam, I’m getting excited that in less than a day I’ll be there. I’ve got this image of bridges, narrow streets, and a totally different perspective than what I’m used to. I can’t wait until I get to see it for myself.

Mon 02/08/10 02:40
Maybe a couple too many

I’ve been in Dresden now for about three nights and to be honest I’ve been trying to write about it for about that long as well. I’m not really sure why it’s been so difficult to put my thoughts down about this city, but for posterity I want to write something so here goes.

The first thing that comes to mind is that much of it is very picturesque almost out of a storybook. It’s got great old churches and a beautiful waterfront, there were times that I felt that I had stepped back in time to the 17th century. Those times were reinforced when the church bells from all over the city would go off at the same time. It’s hard not to fall in love with the architecture in the old part of the city, it really is spectacular.

dresden Germany Dresden Germany

The second thing that comes to mind is that it’s very commercial. The main street in the old part of town is nothing more that a shopping center built in a mix of Soviet and Western styles. Not very pretty to look at and not really something that I especially want to see. It’s been something that I’ve tried to understand for some time now, whenever there is a tourist destination, it seems that much of the buildings are filled with regular stores. I understand why sometimes, but if you’re shopping for Levis do you really travel to Dresden, what about cell phones, does Dresden have the best deals? Like I said I do understand for the most part, but you have to see how overboard some of these towns get.

ken curtis, Dresden Germany Water front, Dresden Germany

by the river in Dresden, Germany 2010

The last thing that I don’t want to mention, but it really has formed my opinion much more than I’d like to admit, is that the people here aren’t very pleasant. I’ve tried to be nice and to speak as much German as I can, but they just aren’t a warm group. They don’t yell like Russians, and they aren’t mean like Bulgarians, they just aren’t friendly and for someone who is traveling alone, it makes for a less than fun stay. I think I remember reading that Dresden was part of East Germany, so that would explain their “coolness.”

I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow afternoon and will arrive at 5 in the morning. I’m looking forward to seeing if all the stories that I’ve heard about it are true. I’ve only scheduled two nights there because I am starting to run a little bit behind. I had to stay in Stockholm an extra day, and here in Dresden for an extra night as well. After Amsterdam I will head to Brussels and then across the channel to Great Britain. I’ve really been thinking about renting a car in Britain to make the journey to Scotland and Ireland a little bit more spontaneous.

Fri 30/07/10 01:20

My last full day in Berlin was more of a catch-up day than anything else. The first thing on my list was ensure that I had some place to go to after I checked out of the hostel here. I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go, except that there were two places that I was interested in seeing. The first was Dresden, mostly because of its history during WWII. From what I remember, Dresden was leveled by allied bombings, and when I say leveled I mean flattened. That’s assuming that I remember correctly. The other place was Hamburg… and to be honest, I don’t really know why I want to see that. Maybe I thought I could score the best hamburger and fries there. Whatever the reason, I was leaning towards Dresden, and when I was ordering my ticket the first thing out of my mouth was Dresden. So tomorrow at 11:15 I head to Dresden for two nights.

picture Berlin, 2010 Berlin 2010

Marble Statue, Berlin 2010 Statue from Egypt, Ken Curtis 2010

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, what I did today. I am not really a museum or church/temple kind of guy. Museums can be boring sometimes and if they happen to be popular museums then you have to deal with a huge amount of people, and I don’t think I have to say this to anyone, I don’t like crowds. So museums usually take second or third in my list of must do things when I’m visiting a city. Today with time to kill, I decided to head to one of the big museums here, the Neues Museum. It probably could be called a museum of natural history for the amount of exhibits that chronicled mankind from 600,000BC to 1700AD. I spent about 2 hours walking through the exhibits and to be honest they were very interesting.

Rodin, Berlin 2010, Kenneth Curtis Berlin, 2010

I left the Neues Museum and headed for the Alte Nationalgalerie, or what I call it, the National Art Gallery. They had work from Rodin, Cezanne, Manet, and many others on exhibit. I don’t really get into paintings unless I’m seeing it in real life. What I mean is through all my art history classes, I don’t that there were more than 5 or 6 paintings that I liked, but when I see the work in person, it always floors me. Some of them I could spend hours just trying to figure out how a painter could do something like that. Some of the work is huge, maybe larger than most people’s living rooms, and other work so realistic that it looks like a photograph.

After a couple of hours at the Alte Nationalgalerie and with legs that were turning to rubber, about to give out I found a beautiful shaded spot in the museum courtyard and soaked up some of the Berlin ambiance. There was a singer off in the distance singing what sounded like opera, tour boats cruising the canal behind me, and to be honest it was one of the most simply perfect 30 minutes that I’ve had in a while. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but some of the things I hated when I was young, like classical music, opera, and violins can at times seem so perfect.

Wed 28/07/10 15:07
and a few other things

So I started this morning at about 9, which was about an hour later than I wanted to start at, but what can you do? My first plan was to head to the old part of the city, the same place that I was yesterday. According to the map, it looks like the old part of Berlin has the most to offer at least historically. For the most part I didn’t really see anything new, but I did have more time to go to some of the sights that I saw yesterday but didn’t feel like I had enough time to actually “feel” it. It wasn’t long before my tour would begin so I hung around the city square for about an hour.

ken curtis in front of parliament, Berlin Soviet Memorial, Berlin 2010

The tour that I joined was a journey to some of the Soviet/Communist parts of Berlin. It also included an actual “complete” Berlin Wall with the kill zone still intact. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t a lot to take pictures of, for example the headquarters of the Stasi has been converted over to a government facility, so you can’t go inside, and besides the basement where the stasi did all the bad things was closed to the public—so no pics. As mentioned I got a chance to see the intact Berlin Wall too. The job the East Berlin did to ensure that nobody could get across was impressive. There were two walls, killer dogs staked to the ground on long chains, guard towers, and other equally as ingenious things to make sure that no one could get across.

We also went to the memorial of the soviet troops that died in Berlin. It’s kind of hidden away, but when you get to it, it’s pretty impressive.

View of kill zone, Berlin 2010

Soviet Memorial, Ken Curtis, Berlin Stasi Headquarters, Berlin 2010

I got back to the hostel about 6, grabbed a bite to eat and went back to my room. I had planned on going back to the city center to take some night shots of some of the buildings, but the weather isn’t really too good. Right now it’s cold, windy, and with a little bit of rain. No worries, tomorrow I can do it to.

Wed 28/07/10 02:00
I really enjoyed myself

I’m sitting in the restaurant in the hostel getting ready to head out this morning. Before I do though I thought I’d give a quick summary of my day yesterday. I got into Berlin at about 6am and since the hostel wouldn’t let me check in until 2, I took a free walking tour around Berlin. A free walking tour, sounds kinda shady, doesn’t it? It wasn’t though, in fact it was as good if not better than some pay tours I’ve been on.

We started in the main center of Berlin, there’s not too much that I can describe about it that most people would know, except for one building, the one that Michael Jackson hung his baby out the window and started the uproar several years ago. From there we walked along and saw some more expected things, like the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s Bunker (which is covered over and you can’t really see), the Jewish memorial, the book-burning memorial, and a bunch of churches. I don’t have the time or the desire to fill in too much about the individual things, so I’ll talk in the aggregate. Berlin is awesome, it really is. There is enough older buildings that gives me a sense of time, and there is still enough left from the Hitler and the Soviet time for me to see things that I remember from television.

Jewish Memorial, Berlin 2010 Kenneth Curtis in front of the Berlin Wall, 2010

Checkpoint charlie, Berlin 2010 Ken Curtis Church in Berlin, 2010 Ken Curtis

Today I’m going to go on a Soviet tour of East Berlin and then start to plan my next stop. I’m thinking of going to Dresden or Hamburg, but haven’t really made up my mind just yet. Since I still have two night here, I have a little bit of time to figure it out.

Berlin, 2010

Berlin 2010 Summer in Berlin, Ken Curtis canal

Ken Curtis in front of Sculpture, Berlin 2010

Tue 27/07/10 01:39
I had a good time

My last day in Stockholm was a wandering day. The main goal was to go see some of the lower priority things that I had put off for the days that I’d been there. Out of the things that I had planned on seeing was The National Museum, unfortunately though it was closed. I did go to a couple other interesting places.

I left Stockholm at about 4pm for Lund, from Lund I then transfered to Berlin. The traveling part can be the most difficult part of going places. You are never sure if you’re in the right place, that you have the right ticket, or if something does go wrong you’ll end up where you need to be. Fortunately, I’ve done enough traveling that I take most things in stride… but I digress. The first train to Lund was a high-speed train, I was told that we were traveling at 180kph. The thing is, is that the train is pretty plush, so you don’t really feel like you’re traveling that fast. I got into a conversation with two Swedes, one was a production designer for a television show, the other was a student who studied in Florida. It was a lot of fun, and to be honest it was the first real conversations that I have been in with anyone other that the hostel manager… actually that’s not true, but sometimes it can feel like I haven’t spoken to anyone in a while. I had about 15 minutes to make the transfer to the sleeper car that was going to Berlin once I arrived in Lund. Everything went as planned, got my sleeper and waited for it to leave. A girl staying in the same cabin as me struck up a conversation with me and we ended up talking for about 2 hours. To me, traveling alone means that meeting others is what makes some of the best times, better. She was a grad school student getting her Phd in philosophy next semester. We were talking so much that I didn’t notice that the train had pulled onto a ferry and we were at sea. :) I’ve mentioned in another post how much I like the water, and since I didn’t know that we were going to be on the water it was like a nice surprise.

Statue in Stockholm, Ken Curtis Summer 2010 A view of the harbor in Stockholm Sweden, Ken Curtis 2010

Street Art, Berlin, Kenneth Curtis 2010I went up onto the deck of the ferry and got a beer, dinner, and relaxed before heading back to the cabin. I arrived in Berlin at about 6 this morning and with only a little bit of trouble found my hostel by about 730.

You know, it’s difficult to form an accurate decision on any place after a few hours, but for now I’l liking Berlin. There appears to be a lot to do, and if I time it right, most of my stay here will be a blast. I’m taking a walking tour today in about 2 hours, and tomorrow I’m going to tour the old East Berlin.

Well that’s it for now. Oh, I took this photo on my way to the hostel. Some people don’t like street art, but I love it.