Return to Berlin

[…In Berlin…]

Hotel Room, 12:36 p.m.

It’s an unbelievably gorgeous day here in Berlin. I arrived at the hotel about 2 hours ago and now enjoying some needed rest under clean white linen and a fluffy comforter. I left Copenhagen at 8 this morning, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I felt very unproductive in that place and I’m glad I chose to stay for only 2 nights.

Meanwhile, here in Berlin, I’m staying in the same hotel I stayed the last time, right beside the Hauptbahnhof. From my room,  I can actually see the upper deck of the station through it’s glass walls. Gives new meaning to a room with a view, but I don’t mind it at all. From time to time, I would hear the trains screeching and grinding to a halt, but it does not bother me. They had left the window open so that it’s cool and breezy in my room and the cold sheets, on this warm day, feel good on my skin.

I decided to take a nap before heading out to check on the locations I had planned for tonight, make sure there aren’t any constructions or events to spoil my evening. I’m feeling positive about this city and I have the feeling I won’t leave here disappointed.

[…Everybody and their Mothers…]

Hotel Room, 11:30 p.m.

Everybody and their mothers are out there today. No lawn left unoccupied by eager folks in sleeveless shirts and sunshades, even those with bulging beer bellies wore midriff shirts — they’re all out there getting a piece of that elusive sun. They were out there in front of the House of World Cultures, the Berlin Cathedral, the Reichstag, you name it. Diners in restaurants and cafés are spilling out into the sidewalk sipping their iced coffees with straws and drinking a tall glass of cold lagers.  I’ve also never seen so much tour and school buses parked on the curbside. Old and young alike with their travel guides and pocket cameras, posing in front of any recognizable building, stopping at souvenir stalls, getting ripped off by high-priced magnets and tee-shirts.

As for me, I am happy just to see my Ampelmann once again. I’d cross the street if only to see him change from red to green with his funny and proud strut. It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

I have decided to shoot at the Museum Island tonight, and then the Berliner Dom. So I took the S-Bahn to Hackescher Markt and landed at the cathedral first. The last time I was here, I remember being bombarded by so many gypsies walking around with infants  or young children in their arms or on strollers. They’d go around asking “Excuse me, Sprechen sie Deutsch? Speak English?” over and over, then they forget they’ve already asked you so they come to you again with the same question.

Nothing much has changed this second time around. They were still there with the same questions. Not only that, there were so many tour buses in front of the cathedral that I started to have doubts about tonight. I then walked over to the Bode Museum and surveyed my vantage point which was on a shaky bridge crossing the river Spree. Every time a car passed, it cause vibrations all over the bridge. In short, my plan for tonight seemed a bit risky with all these in mind, but I am sticking with it with great determination.

Around golden hour, I went over to the Reichstag hoping that the queue was not that long, and that I’d make it in before sunset. I got in line, but after about half an hour, I realized that the light was changing faster than the line could move, so I quit and walked towards Brandenburg Gate. As expected, Pariser Platz was packed as well with all kinds of distractions one could imagine – the usual tourists, security police, tricycles, bikes, and more. Times like these call for the trusty ND 110 to get rid of all of them! Although I really don’t quite enjoy working with this filter as there’s so much screwing and unscrewing involved, it works its magic most of the time, assuming I have the right exposure.

Brandenburg Gate at sunset. My ND 110 worked some of its magic here. Shot at f/8 at 214 seconds.

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