Saturday, July 26, 2014

Museums and markets - Doing the touristy thing in Berlin =)

Firstly, before I go on about markets in Berlin, let me talk about train stations!

Train stations hold a fascination for me..  When I used to live in London, sometimes when I was wandering around during the weekdays and there's less people, I'll sit in the underground (or overground), at the platform (on the chairs of course) with a book..  Mind you, it's usually for about 15-30minutes.  (Unfortunately, it's a hazard to sit too long in the underground.. not much air ventilation!)  Sometimes, I just sit there and watch the passengers piling in and out and the trains whizzing by.  It's quite fascinating, really..  Seriously.. Honestly =)

Bye bye train...
Peering from the bridge.. Walking to the Under the Berlin Wall tour...

Anyway, markets.... I have to say the markets in Berlin are definitely one of the better ones. Unfortunately, they are only open on the weekends, which made our weekends very rushed!  We managed to squeeze in a couple of markets.  We did a couple of tours and planned a market visit at the same time.  Killing two birds with one stone!  Not once, but TWICE!  WooHoo!! ;)

I love crawling through flea markets.  There's always some bargains to be had (sometimes).. Other times, they are utter rubbish, filled with more junk than treasures.  Next to sniffing out a bargain, I love art/designer/handcraft markets...  So many creative souls out here in Berlin!  Unfortunately, I feel really bad bargaining if it's a handcraft stall as I know how hard it is to make money when you make the items yourself... =x

On the museum island, on your way to check out the museums located on this island, you should really checkout this art market.  The stalls here are run by designers who are selling their wares.  Some even take credit cards.  They include items like photography, art, jewellery, bags etc.. Definitely worth a browse

Art market at Zeughaus  (The market is usually closed if there's bad weather)
Am Zeughaus 1,  10117 Berlin
Opening hours:  Saturday 11:00 - 17:00
                       Sunday 10 - 17:00

Beautiful sunny day in Berlin
Bullet holes..  So many buildings with these marks... A reminder of Germany's past...  The blue pipes on the right are for construction

A mix of old and new pillars in the corridor of one of the museum

There are 5 main museums on the museum island.  They are:

*  Alte Nationalgalerie
*  Neues Museum
*  Bode Museum (at the end)
*  Altes Museum (across the road from the rest of the museums)

We decided to check out the Pergamon Museum as it was due to close from September 2014 onwards for five years.  That's right.. FIVE years!

Don't you just love wandering around in museums.  So much treasures stolen from other countries ;) One of the more interesting feature on display here is the Pergamon Altar.  Other items on display include antiques, Middle East objects - specifically items found from the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian culture and Islamic Art..

Alte Nationalgalerie
(R) Alte Nationalgalerie, (L) Neus Museum, (M) Pergamonmuseum (Far Back) Bode Museum
You should really pre purchase your tickets beforehand.  It was torturous, waiting for over 1/2 hour to purchase our ticket to the Pergamon Museum in the hot sun
Berlin Cathedral 
Walking on the bridge connecting museum island and Anna-Louisa-Karsch-StraBe
The Berlin Cathedral 
Museum Island

Under the Berlin Wall Tour
One of the tours we did of Berlin was the Under the Berlin Wall.  It is through a company called Berliner Unterwelten E.V.  Unfortunately, they only run the tour a few times a week and you can't buy the tickets in advance.  You have to buy the ticket on the day and there's a limit for each tour run in English.  So, go in early and grab your tickets an hour + before your tour starts.  We came one of the days, 1/2 hour before the tour starts and the English tour was all sold out...  So, the next time we went, we made sure we were at least 1 hour early =)

The only picture I took of the 'Under the Wall' tour as photographs were not permitted =(
The tour itself was quite interesting and runs for 2 hours.  The berlin wall is long gone but there are still reminders of it everywhere.  The story of how the wall was built overnight (with no warning) which separated a lot of family and friends from each other for many years was quite heartbreaking. Imagine how horrible things must be for so many people to risk their lives trying to escape East Germany to West Germany.  This tour provides a stark reminder of the lengths people will go, to escape East Germany.  The tour brings us deep underground, so, if you are claustrophobic, you might skip this tour altogether.

We finished the tour close to another flea market.. Yay!

Flea Market at Mauerpark
Bernauer StraBe 63
10435 Berlin
Opening Hours:  Sun:  07:00 - 17:00

This one is quite massive and is only opened on Sunday and finishes at 5pm. When we arrived, some people were just starting to pack up.  Boo!  This market was recommended by our hotel as it's very popular with locals as well as tourists.  To be honest, I was quite impressed with how big it is.  Lots of stalls with 2nd hand goods and there's a huge tent with furniture which seemed quite popular with lots of people browsing in there.  Apparently,  there's a karaoke session at the amphitheatre which starts at around 3pm!  Pity we missed it =)

The best part for us are the cafes and snack bars here.  We spent a couple of hours just sitting back and enjoying a nibble..
Rows of stalls
Lots of people and sellers

Jewellery made from cutleries
We shared a delicious cheesy jalapeno pizza thingie from the oven

There were places to sit, eat and chat
We decided to chill out on one of the many sun chairs on the sand 
My bargain buy.. €10 for 2 second hand dresses

Phew!  What a long post and I haven't even started on the food yet! ;)