On the second weekend in September, a group of people who live in Germany and blog in English descended on Berlin for WEBMU 2012.
WEBMU is the “Whiny Expatriate Bloggers MeetUp,” and it’s basically an excuse for a group of really fun people to get together, do a little sightseeing, and eat at a bunch of amazing restaurants. Snooker in Berlin and No Apathy Allowed were the organizers and hosts, and they did a fantastic job. I don’t want to do a lengthy recap of the entire weekend, but I took a some pretty neat pictures while I was in town, so here we go.
I didn’t join all of the tours that the group took part in, but I did go to the Friday morning tour of the Stasi Museum. The original headquarters of East Germany’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit have been converted into a museum and it’s pretty fascinating.
The picture below is a propaganda photograph of Katarina Witt, the German Olympic figure skater. I didn’t fully understand the impact of this photograph until after I’d gotten back home and started doing my traditional pre-blog-post research, when I found this detail:
Following the dissolution of East Germany, Stasi files were found to show that the secret police had worked hard to keep Witt from defecting by giving her cars, accommodations, and permitted travel. Witt found 3,000 pages on her life from the age of eight.
A lot of the original furnishings are still present in the museum, including this cabinet reel to reel system and the rather large conference room table in the next two photographs.
One of the more interesting sections of the museum were all the examples of spy cameras- buttonhole cameras, necktie cameras, bird-feeder cameras. This one was large and obvious by comparison.
One of the display cases contained a selection of period music and pop culture that had been reviewed by the Stasi. This section was fascinating to me.
While walking around Berlin all weekend, I saw a huge variety of street art. This sort of thing rarely happens in Regensburg, but in the big city of Berlin, this stuff was kind of everywhere.
I’d like to take a moment to state that the Berlin Hauptbahnhof is just amazing- the upper levels are S-Bahn trains that go around the city, the mid levels and there are a bunch of levels of other trains. The Berlin Central Station is different than most of the Bahnhofs I’ve been to in that it the trains moving through it are East-West on one level and North-South on a different level- most train stations only have tracks running in one direction, not crisscrossed.
The Berlin HBF also maintains a healthy online and social media presence, as I learned when I asked friends on Twitter for a route and I got answered by @HBF_Berlin.
Most importantly for a nerd like me, though, is that the Berlin HBF is just cool to see. The various levels are somewhat open to each other, and you can see many of the trains criss-crossing the station.
I’m not sure if this counts as street art, but it was at the top of the steps to the U-Bahn closest to the Stasi Museum, so it caught my attention.
One of the most common foods in Berlin is Currywurst. I learned on this trip that Currywurst means an instant migraine for me. Neat, eh?
One of our tours was walking around an urban area and we stumbled across a Saturday morning street market. Interesting stuff.
Walking around on that same tour, the tour guide pointed out that there’s a bar in this building. Can you spot it?
The neighborhood also had its share of what we’ll consider ‘eccentric’ residence. For example, the owner of this charming van.
And sometimes, you just have to ask your neighbors to trim their building.
These signs were all over the city in green spaces. The literal translation is Green Investment Scheme, which makes sense in the marked green areas. There’s a Green Investment Scheme aspect of the Kytoto Protocol for environmental benefits, but I’m not sure if this GIS and that GIS are directly related.
During our walk, I kept getting distracted by little tiny things. For example, this little guy: