Berlin – The past looms large

How imposing is this?The Brandenburg Gate is a very important symbol of the unity of East and West Germany.
The Berlin Wall use to run along just behind it. The gate was the location for last year’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.
It’s the last remaining of the 8 original gates that provided entry points into the old gated city of Berlin.
Miraculously while everything else in the plaza lay in ruins after the Second World War the Brandenburg Gate was left standing – abeit peppered with hundreds of bullet holes.

The gate underwent expensive and time-consuming refurbishment and recently opened to the public again. It is closed to vehicle traffic. I love the Doric columns.
It’s crowned with a Quadriga – a four horse chariot drawn by Victoria the Roman Goddess of Victory. Napoleon apparently took the Quadriga back to Paris after the 1806 Prussian defeat but it was returned 8 years later when he was rolled and the iron cross was added as a symbol of Prussian power.
This is the holocaust memorial – just a block away from the Brandenburg Gate. It was controversially built 5 years ago to commemorate the thousands of Jews who died across Europe.

Controversial because many Jews felt it was unnecessary. The designer Peter Eismann wanted to capture ”an ordered system that has lost touch with human reason”.

Walking through it is certainly a disorientating experience – varying heights of concrete blocks built on an undulating landscape.
The rain is setting in now despite this being the first week of summer in Berlin. Luckily I squeezed in a thick coat and pair of boots into my tiny bag. Berlin is inland and on a higher latitude than London so prone to colder and more inclement weather.
Time to get into a little local tucker.
Ria and Chris took me to Borschardt, the Berlin French eatery where the celebs hang out.
For entree we shared a tomato and rocket salad dressed unusually with roasted peanuts.
…. then an exquistie dish of Bresse chicken with herbed mash, baby vegetables and a sticky rich jus.
..thick meaty fingers of white aspargus. It’s the beginning of the spargel season and Germans go gaga for it served here with a garlicky olive sauce.
 
For mains it was lamb rack with potato dauphinois, diced yellow and green zucchini with tiny flavour-packed chantarelle mushrooms.
Lamb is expensive in Berlin and hard to find in supermarkets and butchers.
This lamb was cooked to perfection – lightly pink and cut like butter. Hubba Bubba!
All washed down with an Alsace Reisling.
On our way back to Prenzlauer berg we stopped by the eerie memorial to Checkpoint Charlie where so many Berliers lost their lives trying to flee to the West.
An actor playing an American GI is stationed at the site of the old checkpoint. He’ll pose for a photo with you for 10 Euros.
Like so many cities ravaged by war (London, Paris and more recently New York post 9/11) so much of its past is meshed with its present and its future.

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