Back from my Station in Berlin

Berl-in. Berlin in February is grey. Cold. Wet. Four days of continuous rain. If you think I should be used to that from Ireland then you are wrong. In Ireland, rain is seldom continuous. It lets up. It may rain every day. But only intermittently. Not so in Berlin. Rain. Rain. And more rain. But Berlin is nonetheless exciting. Even in February. There is always something to do or see. The last few days I was in Berlin for my annual reunion with my two friends K___ and D___ with whom I used to have a little cinema club when we were still working together in a large, international internet company. Only fitting that we would convene in Berlin, where D___ lives, while the Berlinale was on.

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As always, my trusty travel companion Pop!Thorin accompanied me. He insisted I make a little gallery of images for you – and sneaked in himself although I did not take many pictures. The weather was not suitable for a precious camera…

IMG_7937The weather, however, did not keep me from meeting up with a new fandom friend. Lovely MatildRAs and I connected via Twitter and decided to check each other out ;-). MatildRAs is familiar with Berlin and whisked me off on a tour of Berlin Station, punctuated by spots that looked strangely familiar and which I hope we get to see more of later this year…

If you are interested, follow us on a short tour of some locations/sights that have popped up in recent tweets by RA and assorted other Berlin Station cast and crew.

We started off at the Bikini Haus (right), a complex of buildings in the centre of West-Berlin, built in the 1950s. I remember it as a rather run-down eyesore from a few years back, but it has now been gentrified into a rather fancy shopping complex with designer shops. The Berlin Zoo is to the left of this picture.

Next we moved on towards Alexanderplatz. Close by is the Pressehaus where the Berliner Zeitung has its base and where some scenes of Berlin Station were filmed in December 2015. (click images for larger view)

A few stops on the S-Bahn took us to the banks of the river Spree. It’s unclear whether Richard was filming or sightseeing there last year, but he posted a (now apparently controversial – and deleted) picture with the caption “I ❤ 🇩🇪”. The graffiti is still there – and it turns out RA had been very careful with his original crop… There is “worse” written on the building than the rather harmless word for a body part… (If you insist on seeing it bigger, right-click the image and open in a new window for a larger view)

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If you follow the river on the side of the buildings, you will come past the “East Side Gallery”. It consists of original slabs of the wall that once divided Berlin. They now are a sort of 1 kilometre long open-air gallery with murals by international artists – some are iconic at this point (see Thorin in the gallery above). You may find this mural familiar:

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You may remember the mural from a tweet pic posted by Richard last year. My picture gives you the context of the original – it is part of the East Side Gallery, whereas Richard’s image showed a (cropped) reproduction of the mural that stood in the courtyard of a building (i.e. his picture was not taken here at the wall).

Continuing along the East Side Gallery you eventually reach Warschauer Straße (from where RA’s co-star Michelle Forbes had posted a picture across the maze of railway tracks). This leads over into Friedrichshain, Berlin’s party central, a colourful district with lots of bars, pubs, clubs and squats. We passed by Cassiopeia, a club in a disused industrial building along the river. Looks pretty much like a cool location for some edgy scenes with decadent, gritty hipsters… (I imagine Daniel Miller sporting his tighty denims and pushing through the sweating crowds, furtively scanning the hedonistic throng for an asset. Or maybe I am imagining Daniel Miller’s assets in a sweaty hedonistic thong, ehhhhh… a thRong, throng, THRONG!!!!)

After an extended lunch-session in Simon-Dach-Straße it was nearly time to part, but on the way to the nearest S-Bahn we passed by another location that some extras and/or residents had posted on Twitter last year.

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I was intrigued by the wooden slats attached around the windows of the first floor flat, wondering whether they had been used for attaching “flags” to block out the outside view, but looking at the old tweets it appears as if they were filming on the floor above that. Otherwise my guess would have been that they are returning to the location for another shoot – a safe house for Daniel Miller’s “assets”, ahem…? Perhaps not.

In any case, the walk around Berlin on the trails of Berlin Station was great fun. MatildRAs took me to places I had not seen, and she was a wealth of information. And no offence to Mr A or the production he is currently involved in – but the highlight was definitely spending time with a new fandom friend who was chatty and open and friendly, a joy to meet up and hang out with. We had a lot of fun talking about a lot of things – which didn’t necessarily include Mr A. And MatildRAs is the latest in a line of fan meet-ups that confirm that we have a fandom made up of interesting people who enjoy expanding their horizons and meeting others. Mr A may be the (inadvertent) instigator of friendships, but we take it from there – despite occasional sh*tstorms and other assorted climate changes in our virtual crockery. The fun may start with him – but what we make of it, is up to ourselves. Berl-out.

IMG_7957PS: My little cinema club and I did not get into any Berlinale films but we kept the moving image theme by visiting a video installation in Hamburger Bahnhof. The multi-screen film installation entitled Manifesto stars Cate Blanchett in 13 different roles, reciting a number of (predominantly) art manifestos ranging from Karl Marx to Andre Breton, Kasimir Malevich, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Jarmusch. Installed in a large blacked-out room, the installation plays over 13 screens simultaneously. The audience is free to wander between the screens and watch at their leisure. Blanchett is stunning in the broad variety of roles, ranging from factory worker to school teacher, news anchor, choreographer diva to homeless man (!). She’s not afraid to look less than attractive, and she delivers the different speeches spot-on as demanded by the context she has been put in. Each of the 13 films is about 10 minutes long and starts with wordless but stunningly aesthetic introductions into the context. I really hope Richard checks out the work of his colleague – it’s well worth seeing even if the individual manifestos (the words) get somewhat buried under the imagery. The mixture of intellectual investigation of art and cinematic contextualisation should be right up his street, though. German readers can look forward to a linear screening of Manifesto in 2018 via Bayerischer Rundfunk which co-commissioned the piece. More HERE.

 

 

 

 

52 thoughts on “Back from my Station in Berlin

  1. I took similar pics last December… 😁 Always fun to walk in RA’s footsteps! And so instructive! Thanks for sharing your impressions! Berlin ist immer eine Reise RAise…) wert – demnächst auf’s neue…

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    • It is fun, isn’t it? I really enjoy it because it’s a great reason to go off the beaten track. It was the same last year in NZ – everyone visits the major sights, anyway, but following a production you often end up in surprisingly interesting places…

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  2. confession #1: I googled Bikini Haus to check out it’s history. I needed to know if it had anything to do with actual bikinis. the thought that maybe it didn’t, bothered me (they used to make bikinis there, so no worries!)
    confession #2: I would hang out all day by the Disco machine just to see people use it. if only one person used it, it would still be a day well spent.

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    • The installation was one of my personal highlights. Unfortunately we were there on the weekend and it was choc-a-bloc packed. We even had to queue for 45 minutes to get in at all. It was worth it, but I admit the crowds put me off a little bit.

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  3. What a great trip. I have never been to Berlin but it has a great reputation here in California of being super hip. They probably wouldn’t let me in.

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    • LOL – hey, come on, they let *me* in… And yes, it has that hipster image – partly justified, I suppose. But beyond the hipster thing is also a place with history and culture that is interesting to non-hipsters 😉

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  4. My thanks to you and Pop!Thorin for the wonderful virtual tour. What a luxury to see the sights of Berlin from the comfort of my armchair. Almost as good as being there myself, and cheaper, too. 🙂

    Glad you had a great time with your friends.

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  5. How I enjoyed “seeing” this fascinating city through the more knowledgeable eyes of you and Matildras! I’ve been pondering the thrills & agonies of WellWisherdom (That term will never ever roll off my tongue, I don’t think 🙂 Like you I’m still convinced the real friendships are so worth it ❤Thanks for sharing!

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    • Yeah, “wellwisherdom” just doesn’t have the same ring as “fandom”. And the whole subtext of it has been on my mind, too. It is hard not to feel affected by any kind of “storm” in the fandom, even if one hasn’t really taken part in the discussion. If things boil up, I usually remind myself that I have had *more* pleasant encounters than I have had bad experiences. That’s what counts.

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  6. Mieses Wetter hat den Vorteil, dass es drinnen umso gemütlicher ist und man ohne schlechtes Gewissen lange sitzen, reden und essen kann 😉
    Ihr seid trotz des miesen Wetters erstaunlich weit rumgekommen – alles um auf RA’s Spuren zu wandeln. Das nenne ich mal standhaftes Fangirling – Respekt 😀

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    • Hehe, mit dem gemütlich drinnen sitzen und essen haben wir auch nicht gespart. Ist Gottseidank ja in Berlin auch erschwinglich.
      Und standhaftes Fangirling geht am besten, wenn man nicht alleine ist. Ohne MatildRAs wäre da nichts bei mir draus geworden 😀

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  7. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed this look at Berlin. How wonderful that you were able to meet MatildRAs. We keep saying it but it’s so true – the fandom friendships we make are the icing on the RA cake. 🙂

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    • I second these sentiments Mezz – especially the last sentence!! I always get a kick out of reading about your travels Guylty so thanks for all the pictures. I know I’ll never have the chance to visit Berlin in person. I wish I had bought a Pop Thorin when they were affordable! 😦 I could have taken him to Scotland with me the last time I was there!!!

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      • 🙂 It’s actually a lovely idea to be thinking that I am taking you and others along on my travels. I very much felt like that last year in NZ when I was blogging en-route. Maybe I should get into more live-blogging on my travels 😉
        Oh, and yes, Pop Thorin has become really precious. I was actually thinking that on Monday when I was just about to balance him on a balustrade in order to take a picture of the “refugees welcome” building. There was a 15 feet drop behind the railings, straight into the river, and I had the split-second thought that it would be difficult to replace Pop Thoza if the wind blew him off the balustrade – not only because he carries the priceless RA signature on his head, but also because he is now an expensive collectors’ item. I placed him on the ground instead…

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  8. Wow, Armitage did indeed crop that photo! Thanks for the actual context. Glad you had a good time — it’s hard to be miserable in Berlin, I found. (and I tried, a few times, lol)

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    • I have to admit I prefer Berlin in summer heat, but as you said – too much to see and do to feel miserable in the rain.
      And yes, it looks as if the framing of his original pic was carefully chosen ;-). MatildRAs pointed that out to me.

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  9. Certainly a most interesting city!! so many things i hadn’t seen before! Is that the rain falling down in the holocaust museum? It looks beautiful and very sad…
    Absolutely love the east side gallery, the artwork is both beautiful and alive, i think it is so good they kept a part of the wall, we should never forget…. And this is a great way to turn the memory into something positive.
    The party district.. wow…. i’d like to see it sometime at night with people populating it, it makes for quite a scary background otherwise 😉 (Reminds me of Urban!)
    I can totally see why they chose Berlin to film, a great contemporary and sometimes menacing feel, depending on the content, and plenty places to get lost and found. I can’t wait to see how it translates on screen 🙂

    I imagine he’s seen Manifesto, can’t imagine him not too.. he seems to have done quite a bit of exploring i imagine. I somehow get the feeling that Berlin is very much up his street… plenty to impress you, to make you think, ponder, plenty to walk, plenty to get lost in and a lot less touristically oppressive and overcrowded like London for example. I’ll keep finger crossed he’ll get a chance in some interviews to talk to us more about his impressions of Berlin.
    Thanks so much for sharing all this!
    PS .. no thongs pleaseeeeeeeeee 😱

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    • The weather was indeed suitable for the subdued mood that is induced by the Holocaust memorial. It was raining, and the rain was trickling down those concrete blocks. Mind you, the memorial is equally oppressive in the bright sunshine. As you can see, it is a bit like a maze, and the paths through it take you down a slope until the blocks tower over you. A very fitting design. I think it is fantastic, and I am also impressed to think that a prime spot of Berlin real estate land was given over for a memorial. Germans take self-reflection rather seriously and do it well.
      I am glad they preserved a part of the wall, too. As much as it was a hated sign of oppression and lack of freedom, it is now a memorial in its own right. They recently took parts of the East Side Gallery away in order to create access from the river bank to some of the buildings on the road. I think the “F*ck off Media Spree” graffiti on the building which RA photographed, refers to that, too.
      Yes, I’d like to see Friedrichshain at night, too. (Not sure if they’d allow me – I am too old *muhahaha*)
      Berlin is a strange mixture of disrespectfully vibrant, and oppressively gritty. For a spy series or thriller it is the perfect setting – lots of disused and derelict parts to swap a spy in or find suspects in incriminating situations… With the name of the city in the title of the series, I expect they will make Berlin a character in its own right. Apart from Richard, that is one of the attractions of the series for me – there’s nothing better than watching a film/show and recognising the location 🙂
      I hope you are right re. RA exploring Berlin. Not only does he come across as someone who reflects and explores his environment, but it would be logical if he “researched” Berlin. Method(-y) actor that he is, he’s probably keeping his Miller on at all times. It’s easy enough, I guess – he’s new in Berlin, just like Miller.

      Liked by 1 person

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