Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “berlin”

A few hours in Berlin. Berlin also remembers Manchester 


Whatever your views on Germany , it is a very compassionate country with a real soul. While walking through the centre today some spontaneous words , flowers and candles in a small side road. They speak for themselves. 

Food At The Midtown Grill at Berlin Marriott. Best and Worst


One of the things about travelling alone is that meals in the hotel are the easiest option so tend to be by default. 

Berlin Marriott is a nice hotel. Fairly central and as one might expect from a Marriott. The first night I arrived fairly late and in reality wanted to sit in the bar and have a beer and a burger. Sadly this was not possible on two curious counts. Firstly the bar is not really a bar but the foyer of the hotel and secondly they served no food. 

The Midtown Grill is the hotel restaurant and I was put off entering last time because the handwritten special board indicated some steak item with something else in German for 70 euros. This time I had little choice. 

The ambience in the restaurant is acceptable but hardly special. The service was variable from very helpful to complete indifference. Curious. The first night I asked them for a Burger and beer without even seeing the menu. It came and was delicious . Arguably 15 euros for the burger was a bargain. 

The food was nicely presented and bread was served free of charge as a starter. I was even more impressed when the second night I read the menu and saw that burgers were not even on the menu. 
The second night I was feeling a little vegetable deficient and had Caesar salad with chicken. Again free bread emerged. 

The Caesar salad was superb and not small and again a bargain for 14 euros. The chicken though was maybe less good. The portion strangely was too large and the meat was tasteless and probably could have done with another 5 minutes grilling

. As a side dish though I decided to have Mac and Cheese.  In London I have had this a few times instead of chips and it works well. Here it was a disaster . In all honesty I cannot a worse restaurant dish ever. The portion was ridiculously large for 5 euros. The pasta was Penne not macaroni. The sauce at the bottom of the dish was water with a taste and consistency of what I imagine dishwater might taste like and worse contained enough salt to give one an overdose. There was a small amount of grilled cheese on the top. Simply inedible. In all fairness I told the waiter and he was very apologetic and said he told the chef. Ok. Five euros. No big deal. The happy ending though was the best baked cheesecake maybe ever given free of charge. It came with redcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and a cumquat. 
So would I return here? Sure if on business but not if on leisure. The prices on the menu for the steaks etc were huge. At those prices maybe I might need a restaurant with more ambience. Where a lot of hotels fall down with their restaurants is that they are simply too large and designed mostly for breakfasts or huge parties . A suggestion. Make a design change. Enable the restaurant to be partitioned off meaning that with perhaps 20 guests dining  the room looks a little cosier. 

Trilogy of Sonennallee. Part 3 and maybe final. The most wonderful Graffiti and Graffiti Art in Our universe.


Sonennallee is not the universal holiday destination of choice.Despite the label of Berlin it is more Croydon than it is London. the saving grace of this suburb of Berlin lies in its graffiti and graffiti art. Graffiti can be vulgar, damaging and criminal, but at the same time educating, amusing and visually improving on an otherwise unpleasant environment. Graffiti art sets out to do a lot more, sometimes achieving that aim and sometimes exceeding. Sonennallee has all these components and the graffiti and graffiti art deserve a place, the final place maybe in this trilogy. This is a photographic memory of what I saw.

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Trilogy of Sonnenallee. Part 2. Just When I Thought Sonnenallee could not get worse….


My little reading flock of this blog would have read my salient words and viewed my photos last night on exactly why Sonnenallee is not a first choice holiday destination despite its label of “Berlin” and in fact one of the large conference centres in Berlin. If Stieg Larsson can write a trilogy then maybe I can try a trilogy of posts from Sonnenallee.

https://arcticterntalk.org/2016/04/12/sonnenallee-district-of-berlin-a-very-contradictory-area/

If you have nothing seriously important to do, like deal with death/marriage/criminal justice system or are detained under the Mental Health Act, then maybe go read that post first before continuing.

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I had held some degree of excitement over visiting Berlin, but Sonnenallee is to Berlin what Tooting and Croydon are to London. Today I find things are worse than I had imagined. Immediately outside and within maybe 100 metres of the Estrel Hotel entrance lies the splendour that is a recycling plant complete with odours to match.

FullSizeRenderA little further brings one to a huge very industrial site that seemed to be making piles of sand and other aggregates. The road is dirty, dusty and has the usual affliction round here of vandalism style graffiti.FullSizeRender-12

With one notable exception. And that is the curious thing about graffiti here, it is a complete admixture of some of the nicest graffiti I have seen anywhere in the world and some of the least pleasant graffiti, looking like it was painted by a hooligan undertaking a degree course in how to obtain an ASBO ( Antisocial Behaviour Order,  a UK thing we do, where we send those who commit antisocial acts somewhere else to commit more, rather than lock them up. Don’t ask me to explain). A block had been painted on two sides with quotations from the literature including Oscar Wilde. So I can now truly say I have read Oscar Wilde, but have no idea what he is saying as it was written in I presume German.

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Decorating the road further were some huge industrial cranes and to complete the package there was evidence of a homeless tent camp on the top of essentially a pile of rubbish near the river. In this era how can we as humans allow people to live in this environment? In the frankly excellent Estrel Hotel maybe 300 metres away people spend £30 on a bottle of wine which could be more than my tent dwellers spend in a month. Not reasonable, not ethical and not right. 

This rapidly became a far more unpleasant area than I had presumed yesterday. Some halfway decent graffiti art on the side of the bridge next to Tent City was the only redeeming feature.

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Daring to venture a few hundred yards in the opposite direction  there were some nice smelling trees in blossom that gave the air a pleasant smell, and a single track railway line on which a tree had fallen and was blocking the line.

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Big leaves on the line

 

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Tree blocking railway line in Sonnenallee

 

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Estrel Hotel Stands Guard Like A Jurassic Monster Over Sonnenallee

So my three highlights of Sonnenallee are in order:

  1. The amazing graffiti art that pervades some of the roadsIMG_2916
  2. The superb Doner Kebab from Doner Haus ( the only German I know) IMG_2923
  3. LeavingFullSizeRender-5

 

Sometimes I Am Pleased With A Single Photograph


Imagine a stinking tunnel under a bridge with rubbish all around. For some reason posters advertising concerts are pasted under this bridge that no-one in their right mind would walk under, especially for the foul smells if not the absence of view. Anyone following my Sonnenallee trilogy of posts will know my thoughts on this place. Somehow this single photo captures the place well.

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Trilogy of Sonnenallee. Part 1 . Sonnenallee District of Berlin. A Very Contradictory Area


When one thinks of Berlin, immediately  one visualises the Checkpoint Charlie or Brandenburg Gate, or even a plethora of beer gardens. That however is only one small part of Berlin.

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Sonnenallee is a suburb of Berlin, around 25 minutes by car from Berlin Tegel airport. In the middle of what looks like a derelict building site is the Estrel Hotel and Conference centre. This is a great looking building and indeed a nice hotel. But why build it here? The area is rundown and during the day dubious looking characters are in conference in the streets drinking and smoking various substances. In all aspects this is a downtown suburb, there are cheap looking bars and the occasional Cafe.

IMG_2910The shops that try to bring colour to the area are the discount supermarkets Netto and Lidl. Other shops sell such a curious admixture of things that it is not easy to fathom exactly their main purpose. FullSizeRender-8Next to the hotel is seemingly a derelict dockyard of some kind and the roads look like they have perpetual roadworks.

IMG_2897IMG_2896 In short this is a dubious kind of area and at night alcoholics sit on the streets shouting their rants, that only they can interpret and seemingly asking for money, to go and buy even more cheap alcohol. So a curious contradiction to have a nice hotel in really a very dubious area.

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More people seem to smoke here than in some other EU cities such as London with many people line the outside of the bars smoking. Graffiti is all over the place and again a real contradiction. There is some excellent graffiti on the front of buildings and structures and next food to this artistic work is the more vile damaging graffiti with paint strewn over doors and fences.

 

Berlin


Hot air in BerlinUniversity

 

My bedroomUniversityHot air in Berlin

Berlin was a wonderful city to visit . Being there really only two days did not allow much to see. Work was good as the congress was superb, based at a congress centre with hotel attached in the south west of the city at Dahlem, which curiously was the student area, though not obvious. The weather was superb and our presentation went well. Got a day to go round Berlin and some photos attached. the only downside was having the saturday morning flight delayed by 7 hours. Berlin airport is not an ideal sightseeing venue.

A few interesting fashion statements. Alexander McQueen would have been impressed by the latest headgear modelled on the top of a bus.

Unusual Hat in Berlin

Unusual Hat in Berlin

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