Sometimes a name's just a name. And sometimes the name springs to life in the most wonderful way. "Unter den Linden" (under the lindens) stopped being something that rolls easily off the tongue and became a magical tour through Berlin, a wonderful cross section of some of the best Berlin has to offer an tourist.
I have more impressions than I have photos, and more photos than I know quite what to do with. So what follows is from my walk down the boulevard, straying a few times into other historical areas, but never far from the main street itself. I did not walk its full length down to Brandenburg Gate.
First, there is the getting there. Once again I walked from my hotel, past the TV tower and St. Mary's Church, seen from a slightly different angle this time:
Also in the park was a reminder that at this time of year, it's Oktoberfest. Behind the beer tent is Berlin's city hall, in all its restored brick glory. I really liked that building. I didn't have the sense to go inside the tent, like some of my fellow travelers did. I was so focused on seeing Berlin.
I then wandered along Karl-Liebknecht strasse, to where it changes names to Unter den Linden, noticing a few details along the way, like the lamps outside the Berlin cathedral:
It's official: We are now on Unter den Linden, here looking back at where I came from:
Crossing the channel where the street changes its name:
Sometimes it's so hard to photograph all these big, beautiful buildings. I need a wide-angle lens. But noticing details isn't a bad alternative. I always tell people to look up. You never know what's hiding in plain view at bird's eye level.
During the morning's bus tour, I made a note of Charlottenstrasse, because we turned down that and passed by some marvelous old buildings and churches. The area we had wandered into included the French cathedral and Gendarmenmarkt. These were not far from Bebelplatz and the Berlin State Opera, which are on Unter den Linden. I got myself a bit turned around, but in truth, wandering these city blocks was much like wandering in Bergen: You're never far from anything, it's just that each turn of the corner brings something new into view.
When I walked past the opera, there were several police vans, in the characteristic green and white that the German police prefers, parked outside it. I didn't realize why they were there until I discovered that since the morning, Gendarmenmarkt was no longer an empty square, but full of demonstrator. So much for photographing the square itself. At least no one blocked my view up.
I walked back to Unter den Linden and crossed it. The other side has a number of museums, including the Pantheon Pergamon, but the line to get in was so long, I didn't bother. There are a number of things I want to do in Berlin, but now I know I have to set aside plenty of time for standing in line to get in to see them. (My attempts at seeing the DDR museum were also sabotaged by a non-moving queue.) Anyway, there was a mix of old and new, and a charming view of the cathedral on the river, as well as whimsical sculptures of bathing youths.
After eating a cup of coffee and a brownie around the corner from the DDR museum, I needed a restroom. My own hotel room turned out to be the most convenient, and I headed "home". That's when it hit me: I hadn't seen the wall! I rushed to the hotel, unloaded unnecessary gear (like my trusty backpack), and rushed back out. My next adventure would be to take the U-bahn to Potsdamer Platz, another one of those historical names.