Freitag, 31. Oktober 2014

Inside the Aquadom Berlin

An accidental intruder in the lobby of Radisson Blu Hotel will be surprised to notice a huge aquarium just in the middle of the elegant lobby. Part of the SeaLife Aquarium in Berlin, the dome has a life of its own, with colourful fish springing in all directions.
The ticket from the dome can be purchased from the Aqualife and at the end of the ride, you might be allowed to go one more time - ask for a fish stamp on your fist from your guide.
After a couple of minute of waiting time, you are invited inside the dome, a three level cylinder, where is very warm - due to the temperature of the water, of around 27C. During the 10 minutes or so ride, the guide explains in German and English. The blue and yellow fish, run fast in the claire-obscure ambiance. Given the warm, one can start thinking about the perfect time to start your meditation/relaxation practise. 
The 25 metre tall cylindrical glass aquarium, has the largest acrylic cylinder in the world. Inaugurated in 2004, it has a 11-metre diameter, being situated on a 9-metre tale foundation.
Inside, there are around 1,000,000 litre of water, for 1,500 fish belonging to 97 species. An amount of 8 kg. of food is brought to them daily. Every day - except Wednesdays - the visitors can witness the ritual of fish feeding. A coral reef environment was created as well, in order to give a touch of authenticity of the aquarium, that in the middle of the modern construction of the hotel can look as a very futurist project, both from inside and outside.  
 Slowly, slowly our cylinder arrives on the top of the building.
The way back to the base, is even more pleasant, as everyone is already used with the ambiance, and the feeling of uncertainty of being under water diminished. So, when the journey is finished, I experience a bit of frustration as I wanted maybe to stay a bit more. Maybe have a long afternoon in the aquarium, relaxing, reading something or sipping a fruity cocktail too. 
The DomAquarée hosted by the hotel also includes restaurants and conference venues, as well as a small bar. Special occasions - especially weddings - can also be celebrated here, many local considering the venue a very romantic place for new beginnings. 

Vintage Berlin: Classic Remise, the secret paradise of vintage cars lovers

I must confess that I don't know too much about old cars, except that I love some of their special colours and the unusual unique shapes, coming from an age when cars were not so much mass consumption. When asked recently about the possibility to find shops or exhibition spaces with and about vintage cars, I recognize my limited knowledge in this respect, but with the help of Google, I'd found it: Classic Remise Berlin
It is situated in an area that did not present too much interest for me, near the Beusselstrasse S-Bahn station, an industrial area with wide streets, almost empty during the weekend. The advantage might be that there are enough parking places, and once you are on the right street of the location, you can try to park your 21st modest car near an old beauty, freshly repaired. 
Except for the tours that might be booked in advance, touring the Classic Remise is for free. The construction was built at the end of the 19th century, went through some architectural changes in the 1920, and used as a tram depot till 1960. The current location - with an equivalent in the posh city of Dusseldorf - was open in 2003. According to any standards, it is a huge space, that requests at least 3 hours from your life to discover. 
The cars are everywhere, and most of them are pretty enough for calling the limits of your bank account. Surprisingly for me, was the fact that there were prices apparently low enough to make the car affordable - less than 50,000 EURO for some 3-decade old full leather well tuned cars - except if you ignore the intensive care and special location where such a high-end car should live. Plus, of course, the high consumption of gas, as the cars were designed in an era where green energies were a matter of science fiction. 
The camera can hardly stop working, as the attention is called over and over again by another beautiful car, and another and one more. I especially love the colours, the reds and the strong blacks and the incredible pastels.  
Most of the famous brands, especially the German ones, are present, many made in the 1950s, but also at the beginning of the 20th century. Ferraris, and Mercedes and Renaults, as well as some limited number of American cars plus some Italian brands, including a Carabinieri type of car are waiting to be admired and eventually brought to some new homes. 
Amid the curious visitors, many of them begging for being let to have at least a picture of themselves inside one of these fantastic cars, people are working. Classic Remise hosts many workshops and showrooms as well as some car parts shops. 
The time goes, but we are still somewhere at the very beginning of the discovery. At least for me, everything is new and I try to focus as much as possible on the moment for learning as much as I can. 
Besides cars, the Classic Remise also has an impressive collection of motorcycles, of all sizes and representing famous brands.
In the workshop, dedicated workers are carefully analysing what should be more done, what is missing or checking if the job is finally done. Not bothered by the many tourists and some of their questions, they keep working.
I am not familiar with many brands or technical features of many objects here, but at least I know that I am ready at any time to ride a Vespa. Especially a colourful girlish one. Unfortunately, it is not possible to show my skills to the world in this shop.
Half-museum - especially if you are lacking the money - half exhibition hall, the Classic Remise can be also visited for those interested in a crash-course about the history of automotive industry. The changes in shape and weight and other technicalities are often signs of changes taking places at the level of civilization itself, such as the increase of the population, dramatic changes of the urban planning policies, financial requirements etc. 
But you don't need to be a skilled sociologist to admire the stylish choices of the leather chairs and wooden board.
 We keep touring round and around, admiring more and more elegant car models.
After you park your car, you can change the driving license and get a tour with one of those posh boats. The interior is shining and distinguishably elegant. 
From popular WV buses to Ferrari cars, some of them especially tuned on the spot to answer the high requests of the exquisite customers, everything can be made possible here. 
Nearby, around 88 glass boxes to present another special selection of cars, many of them owned by various car brands clubs. Their regular reunions here are a natural decision, given the inspiring environment. 
I am a big fan of small cars, MiniCopper style, but sometimes this massive German cars can make me change my mind, at least for a while. 
Although I cannot see myself driving such an impressive old car, I can keep dreaming that one day will have the experience of a small tour with it. Maybe I can drive it too.
 Blue was always my favourite colour, and on a car, it can look very attractive.
 A red deconvertible Jaguar can make a serious statement about almost everything, isn't it?
 From the top of the first floor, the cars are quietly waiting in line, to be seen, admired and bought. 
One more beauty and I promise to finish. More than four hours after we entered Classic Remise, the trip is almost done, but I know that the next time I am visiting a big city, will discretely check if they have some vintage cars exhibition. Technical mind or not, such a visit can be a great fun!

Sonntag, 19. Oktober 2014

Let me show you my Berlin!

Are you visiting Berlin and curious what you can see and where you can go? 
Are you curious to have a taste of the diverse cuisine offered by the many restaurants and bars of the city?
Have been told by your friends and relatives how cool and hip and unforgettable is the city, but you don't know how to plan your experience beyond the usual tourist to-do-list?
Are you Jewish observant and would love to find out where to spend a Shabbat evening or to buy kosher food?
Would you like to also go outside the city and would love to know how to plan your trip to Potsdam?
I modestly announce you that I might have some answers to those questions, plus some extra information that could help you have an unforgettable experience in the city.
In partnership with LocalYoo, you can easily book my services on my Expert page:
Can't wait to be your guide in the city!
Keep in touch soon!

Montag, 13. Oktober 2014

Revisiting Köpenick

Some summers ago, I spent a couple of good days in Köpenick, but after returning from the long summer vacation, I decided that I did not have enough of this relatively unexplored part of the city. After a long S-Bahn journey, passing near industrial areas, but also near the Muggelsee, we finally arrived. I took a different way, following Grunaer street, in the direction of the castle.
Small cheap bakeries and beer parlours, bordering small streets with colourful block houses, freshly repainted. It reminded me of some old small towns I visited a couple of summers ago in the Brandenburg area.
When I was almost feeling bored and put into doubt my decision to try a completely different path, near the elegant Pentahotel, I discovered a discrete parking of very expensive yachts, looking for new owners. 
The mood changed completely when I spotted the distinguished white silhouette of the Castle, with its cubic shaped guardian trees on the border of the water. 
 As usual, the expressionless statues were waiting in the front of the entry.
The castle was erected as a hunting lodge in 1558 by Joachim II Hector of Brandenburg, and during the 30 Years War it used to be the headquarters of King Gustav Adolphus of Sweden. Later on, in 1677, he become the property of Frederich I of Prussia. Nowadays, it hosts an interesting collection of decorative arts. 
I always wanted to visit the museum castle, but every time either was closed, or one of the special concerts were taking place in the small entrance yard. This time, nothing stood against my love for the decorative arts. Besides the usual permanent exhibition, this time a creative temporary display of local artists was offered to the public. 
The collection is impressive, and includes several wooden walls and canopies from all over Germany and Switzerland, porcelain from Meissen, objects belonging to the German rococo and spectacular stuccatura and wall statues, China laquers and cabinets and a wide array of pieces of furniture. 
After so much diversity and exuberance of shapes and colours, a walk around the gardens with their manicured alleys bordered by wild flowers and gracious statues. The little coffee bar in the garden serves a good coffee and a variety of German-Austrian inspired dishes, such as the classical apple strudel. 
Enough with too much meditation! The Schlossplatz was bubbling with life, children enjoying the last days of the summer vacation and tourists spending their time out of the usual curious crowds. From the Tourist Office I was told that the celebrated Jazz Festival that used to last for a couple of weeks was not organized this year, due to the lack of funds. 
Lovers of beers with a historical touch would probably enjoy spending time at the smallest brewery in Germany. All round the day and the week, the square also hosts a market of fruits and veggies and a short visit to the ice cream parlours shall be included into the visiting program. 
The streets are calling the visitor to a drink or some classical German cuisine, in historical locals.
The impressive red bricked town hall cannot be ignored, with its 54 meter high and the combination of late Gothic and modern architecture. The initial construction was done in 1763, but considerably rebuilt and expanded at the beginning of the 20th century.
We keep walking and walking, on the Alter Markt and the small houses from Katzengraben. Close to the Spree area, there are entire streets with old fishermen houses, little dwarfs cottages, some of them offering holiday rooms. Boat tours are also available for those interested to discover this part of the city by boat. 
The culinary stop was at the historical Washhaus, nowadays a traditional Bayern local. I wanted to follow the regional trends and took a bretzel - was expecting it fresh and maybe warm too, but was disappointed - and my one and only beer of the season, a Radler. The view was very relaxing and wished I had more free hours. 
Those interested by a detailed history of Köpenick must visit Heimatmuseum, hosted in a small traditional house - a former children nursery and child care facility. Located on the island created by the meeting between Spree and Dahm, it used to be a former Slavic settlement called Kopanica, mentioned for the first time in 1232. Till its incorporation into Berlin in 1920, it used to be an independent town. Following the last administrative reform, it incorporated also the Treptow district, adding more nature to an already green framework. 
As usual, before leaving the old town, I took a last look at the huge advertising cocktail painted on the walls. 
Back to the S-Bahn station, on the way back home, I realized that although there are slight chances to discover anything surprising in this part of the city, paying a visit from time to time it's relaxing and worth the long journey from a part to the other of Berlin. 

Ku'damm by night

Yesterday night, after a full day of indoor work, I decided to take a little walk on Ku'damm. The main intent was to spot some interesting colourful corners adorned on the occasion of the Festival of Lights, but the harvest was relatively modest. Instead, I played a bit with the camera, the combination of lights and shadows that gave to the old discrete buildings a completely new and much stronger personality.

 Even the nature looks different under the street light...
I pass near this building very often, but I hardly notice all the details that were almost revealed during the last night short trip.
 The only happening of the Festival of Lights was the Neue Kanzler's Ecke...

 Waldorf Astoria playing some discrete lights on the very top.
 At Europa Center.

On the way back home, I spent some good minutes trying to catch the right contrast of the tree projection on the yellow wall of a house on Pfalzburgerstrasse.