Berlin in the Movies
Whether you’ve been to Berlin, or are just planning a trip, there are plenty of Berlin movies that will give you a feel for the place – whether the old Berlin or the new. If you want to stretch right back into the past, seek out the old version of the children’s classic Emil and the Detectives, to see, among other things, what Friedrichstrasse station looked like in the 1930s.
The classic Berlin movie of the 1980s is of course Wings of Desire, with many sequences filmed very much in the shadow of the Wall: you can see the no-man’s land that was Potsdamer Platz, for example. The movie was a big hit on its release, and while it’s sometimes difficult to relate it to the new, changed Berlin, it’s still a fascinating glimpse into the recent past.
Post-Wall, the best-known Berlin movie is undoubtedly Run Lola Run, which takes the title character all over the city (she’s a miraculously fast runner, but that’s part of the joke for locals). There’s barely a shadow of the Wall here: the movie is very much of the present, and the future. The director was also involved with the movie Life Is All You Get, which, for anyone who’s spent time in the city, seems even more authentic: the little details of relationships and nights out ring very true, and there’s plenty of offbeat humor.
If it's Wall comedies you're after (yes, they exist), try Sonnenallee, about a community living in the shadow of the Wall, or Goodbye Lenin, in which the main character tries to ensure his sickly mother doesn't find out about the fall of the Wall so that the shock doesn't kill her. Both are extremely amusing, and very poignant in parts.
Crossing the road
The strange thing in Berlin is that no one crosses the road (even if it's clear) without the little green man appearing.
Ok so that's no so strange... and there are jaywalking laws and the German Police are not really the kind of people you want to mess with...
But they don't just wait for the lights to change, they actually queue up in pairs behind each other in a line to wait for the lights to change. I always thought that it was only the English that were known for their queuing?
Sans Soucci, Potsdam
Frederick the Great had no great love for his capital city (but then Berliners had no great love for him) and so, in 1744, he commissioned Georg von Knobelsdorff to build him a residence where he and his wife could live 'without cares - sans soucci'. Incredibly, the palace was completed within the year (although the layout of the parklands took another 5 years - and even then, 'officially' they took much longer as additions and changes were made for the next 130 years).
Sans Soucci is a surprisingly modest royal palace - one storey Baroque, topped by an oxidised green dome and ornamental statues. The interior is anything but modest - a Rococco feast of gilt, mirrors, curlicures and scrolls, marble, lacquerwork and more. The palace itself only contained 13 rooms under Frederick - the west wing (also of 13 rooms) was not added until 1840.
Frederick loved the palace so much he was determined to die and be buried at Sans Soucci (even to the point of working on the design of his tomb in the evenings). He eventually got his way, but not until 1991 and post re-unification of Germany. In the first instance, he was buried at the Garnisonkirche in Potsdam (1786), exumed in 1944 and taken to Schloss Hohenzollern in Swabia for safe-keeping, but eventually returned to Sans Soucci in 1991.
Giving in to Ostalgie
Giving in to a serious fit of Ostalgie can be solved by visiting the plentiful souvenir shops in Berlin-Mitte. Especially around Checkpoint Charlie you'll find a huge array of former communist memorabilia. I love the little Ämpelmännchen, but hey to each his own, right? I'd say buy a red t-shirt with a hammer and sickle. Red's the new black, after all, and at less than EUR10 they're very inexpensive.
Nightlife in this town is...
Nightlife in this town is GREAT!. Lots of discos, bars, local taverns with great German music (Marianne Rosenberg) seems to be a favorite, when I was there. It is quite expensive though, and they will even charge you for a glass of water.
On weekends some of the discos are packed!, and I mean, PACKED!. Techno music was still a favorite in many places. What I love about it, was the variety of styles of these places, unlikely Los Angeles, where the decor theme seems to be the same everywhere. Here in Berlin, each establishment has its own mood and decor. Depends on the kind of place you go to, but in general I found out Berliners have a pretty liberal dress code. They could care less, taking all of their clothes off in a warm summer or spring day, they will lay on the grass of the big parks, enjoying and sunning themselves, without much care, what any foreigner may think of this.