Sunday, 26 October 2008

Berlin Festival of Lights

These past two weeks (14.-26. Oktober) have seen the nightscape of Berlin shift and glow to a display of coloured lights and illuminations at most of the Berlin landmarks. Bowls of fruit and classical paintings were projected onto the Berliner Dom, coloured spotlights played up and down the shaft of the Fernsehturm, and the Brandenburger Tor shimmered with changing pure pigments of light. From Schloss Charlottenburg to Oberbaumbrücke bridge, from the Ku'Damm to Gendarmenmarkt, not a molecule of CO2 was spared to pour a stream of iridescent photons into the Berlin night sky. The carbon footprint was enormous, but the spectacle was, well, spectacular. It might not have been on the scale or brashness of Blackpool Illuminations, but it did bring out the crowds on cold Autumn nights and threw the classical buildings and monuments into a new perspective. There was even a colourfully illuminated 'light train' running round the S-Bahn.

Here are a few of my photos taken during the week (click to bigify):

The Berliner Dom from the Spree

Schloss Charlottenburg

The Siegessäule (Victory Column)

The Elephant Gate at Berliner Zoo

Note to Rammstein fans:
that's the Universal Records building on the left of the picture.

Check out more (and better!) photos of The Festival of Lights on Julie Woodhouse's website.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Besuch von den Eltern 2

This week we have had my Beloved's father and his partner visit us.

We gave them the obligatory guided tour of the sites in central Berlin (we're getting this off pat now - we could start doing paid tours soon!), a session or two in the beer tent at the Oktoberfest in Alexanderplatz, and a wander around Basdorf village.

Here are a few of the photos I took around Basdorf. This is of the rear of our house:

Here is my Beloved and her father checking out the restaurant menu at the Barnimer Hof. "Hmm, not much vegetarisch." "So, what are Schweinshaxen exactly?"

And here is the main shopping street in Basdorf looking seasonally autumnal:

Select this link to view my full photo-set of Basdorf photos on Flickr.

I believe they enjoyed their first visit to our new house, and indeed their first visit to Germany, though we may have tired them out. Hopefully they will want to return, perhaps when the evenings get longer and warmer and we can sit out in a Biergarten.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Besuch von den Eltern (Parent's Visit)

This week my mother, and my Beloved's mother and partner came to visit. It was a late flight into Schönfeld airport, and there were a lot of railworks on the S-Bahn network causing delays, so they were ferried to Basdorf by taxi. Even so, it took almost as long to get to our house as it did the flight from East Midland's Airport to Berlin.

We gave them the usual tour of Berlin: Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten, up the Reichstag (dome closed for cleaning unfortunatley), Unter Den Linden, Museum Island, up the TV tower, Alexanderplatz, Nikolaiviertel, boat along the Spree, Gendarmenmarkt, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Ku'Damm, Checkpoint Charlie, Hackescher Markt, the Neue Synagoge, the Prater Garten ... have we missed somewhere? Of course we couldn't expect to show them everywhere, and we had no time to look in any of the marvelous art galleries and museums, but we hope it gave them the flavour of Berlin and a desire to come back for more. 

There was even an Oktoberfest going off in Alexanderplatz, so they got a taste of Bavaria too:

On the last day we went for a walk through the woods which surround Basdorf, collecting mushrooms. We didn't find any we could confidently eat though, certainly not this one:

Hopefully everybody had a good time, and we look forward to their next visit. The rail network might be working better then too.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Ikea, Heating, Plumbers and Mothers

Our mothers arrived last night (see next post) but the vital slats for our new bed only arrived this morning from Ikea. As we only got the water heater and central heating working yesterday as well, it was a close-run thing that we had the house ready for them. Trotzdem, we had my 'mother-in-laws' partner putting together an Ikea bedside cabinet first thing this morning. And that wasn't to much success, as Ikea had failed to put in a vital screw.

We are pissed off with Ikea as it is. The rest of the bed had been delivered last week, missing the slats. Ikea's checkout Arbeiterin had failed to run them through the till, so the van turned up with the rest of the bed, but nothing to support the mattress. Damit, we had to trail across to Ikea on the other side of Berlin again, and pay for delivery of the missing slats, which arrived today. Last night we were sleeping student-style on the mattress on the floor.

The central heating boiler was another matter. It packed in last Sunday and the only plumbers we knew about were the emergency ones listed in the Berlin Gelbe Seiten (Yellow Pages). Eventually we had one turn up and he finally diagnosed the problem mid-week as a broken pump which of course had to be ordered. In between was the German national holiday for German Unity on 3rd October (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), and a weekend. And the mothers were coming on the Tuesday. It looked like the mothers might have to be booked into a local hotel rather than wash in cold water and huddle around the Holzkamin (wood-burning fire). We ourselves had to take a shower at the Wash & WC Centre in Alexanderplatz Bahnhof so that people would deign to sit next to us on the S-Bahn. Having a shower at Alexanderplatz station was in itself a strange experience; I don't think I've stood naked under a stream of soapy hot water listening to platform announcements and with hundreds of train passengers walking by just outside the cubicle door.

Anyway, the plumber fixed the pump on the Monday and the final bed parts arrived Wednesday so all was well. Except the cost; not only of Ikea having to deliver twice, but of the plumber's bill. In future we shall have to find a local plumber, and not pay exorbitant fees to have one come out from Berlin.

The cats thoroughly like the bed though!

(clockwise top left: Simba, Cassie, Suki and Tosca).
Alles gut, endes gut!*
* Wilhelm Shakespeare