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Over the Roofs of Biberach

The roofs of Biberach. Photo: Ulla Hennig, July 2011

Biberach – the town where I was born – was founded in the 13th century. Many old houses are still standing, and you can see from the photo, how narrow the distances between the houses are. As many of the old houses were built in a half-timbered style fire was a big danger. Once a fire had broken out in one house it easily moved over to the next ones, and soon big parts of the town were on fire.

Between the houses you can see the church tower of St. Martin. St. Martin has been and still is used by Catholics and Protestants alike. In former times Catholics and Protestants had their own mayors, and people from either side would not marry people from the other denomination. Catholic people had “catholic shops” to go to, as well as Protestants had their “protestant shops”. These times are over now – and I am very glad about it!

Once upon a time

There once was a pub... Photo: Ulla Hennig, June 2011

There was a time when Berlin – East and West – was famous for their pubs. Often you coud find then at the corner, and so they were called “Eckkneipen” – which means “pubs on the corner”. They served a few brands of draft beer, some snacks, and that was it. No stylish furniture, no latte macchiato, no capucchino. Just beer and “Schnaps”. You did not find any tourists in there, just the locals: hard working people who enjoyed their beer after a long day of work; old age pensioners who escaped the loneliness for their homes; and the one and other person who was unemployed and needed the booze to get over the day.

Of course people were allowed to smoke at that time, and how they did! You could even smell the smoke when you got near the premises, and the door were open in the summer time.

The times they are a changing – and only a few of this kind of pubs have survived. And not all of them which have survived are recommendable. But some of them still are.

Half-timbered Houses

Half timbered house in Biberach, my birthtown. Photo: July 2011, Ulla Hennig

Those half-timbered houses are can be found all across Germany. Actually there exists a German Half-Timbered House Road, which is more than 2000 km long and stretches the Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse, Thuringia, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg (Baden-Württemberg is the state I was born and raised, went to school and to university, before I moved to Berlin in 1981).

The “Biberacher Schützenfest” – a famous country fair in the South of Germany

The marketplace of Biberach during the "Biberacher Schüzenfest"

The marketplace of Biberach during the "Biberacher Schüzenfest"

Every year in July the Swabian town of Biberach celebrates the “Biberacher Schützenfest”, which is a very old country fair with a fairground and several processions showing the history of the town.

On last Sunday you could see several guild dances – you could see the dyers’ dance, the farmers’ dance and the weavers’ dance. It had been raining cats and dogs on Thursday and Friday, even on Saturday, so everybody was wondering whether the dancers and the audience would stay dry. They did.

All the dancers were school children. Later on, on the parade, the majority of the musicians and the people presenting historical persons were children. You could see the participants of the 30 years war in their historical costumes; you could see an old mill and the miller; you could see women sitting at the weaving looms.

Here you can see official photos showing the parade and the various groups. The page is in German, but you can have a look at the pictures and get an impression.

The Charlottenburg Gate in Berlin

The Charlottenburg Gate

The Charlottenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig, July 2011

This gate has been built at the beginning of the 20th century in Berlin. It marks the border between the districts of Charlottenburg and Tiergarten, and is part of the Charlottenburg bridge which crosses the Landwehrkanal.

The sculpture on the left is a sculpture of Sophie Charlotte, the wife of King Frederick I.

The Landwehrkanal in Charlottenburg, Berlin

The Landwehrkanal in Charlottenburg, Berlin

The Landwehrkanal in Charlottenburg, Berlin

The Landwehrkanal is a waterway which goes through several districts of Berlin. This photo shows it in the district of Charlottenburg, not far away from my office at work. Actually I took this photo on Monday on my way to work.

Although I have been living in Berlin for a long time now I am still fascinated with the amount of green which we have in this big city. Charlottenburg is one of the more urban districts with a big train station and the Kurfüstendamm, the famous boulevard during the time when the west of Berlin was surrounded by the wall.

But, as you can see, even this urban district has got its green islands…

Under the Subway in Kreuzberg, Berlin

In order to understand this you must know that parts of the subway lines in Berlin are high above the ground.
As you can see there is a nice lane for pedestrians (and bikers, of course) under the subway. On the left side there is the “Landwehrkanal”, one of Berlin’s most famous waterways. You cannot see it because of the green shrubs.

Capoeira Dancing at the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin 2011

Capoeira Dancing at the Carnival of the Cultures, Berlin

Capoeira Dancing at the Carnival of the Cultures, Berlin

The carnival of cultures takes places every year in June in Berlin. Many nationalities participate in this carnival – people from Afrika, Asia and lots of people from Brazil, South America. You can hear a lot of Samba music, and you can see capoeiristas performing.

As you can see in the photo above people form a big circle, and in the middle of this circle (which is called “roda” by the capoeiristas, two people move. Capoeira is a mixture of martial art, artistic movements and dance. It is said that it was once developed and practised by African slaves in Brazil who were forbidden to carry any weapons.

Wherever capoeira is shown today it is practised without actually hitting the other person. It looks very elegant, almost like a kind of ballet dancing.

The Buddy Bears of Berlin

One of Berlin's Buddy Bears

One of the Buddy Bears of Berlin

In 2001 the fibreglass life-size sculpture of the Buddy Bear was created, and artists painted approximately 350 bears in various colours. These sculptures now populate the city of Berlin, serving as decorative elements. They stand in front of public buildings, hotels and other private premises.

This one here is ten minutes away from where I live – and I didn’t know that he was standing in that street until I passed him on my way to my local bank. Another bear – one painted in brown colour – stands directly in front of the house next to mine and has been bought by a dentist (the name of the dentist is written on the base on which the bear stands).

I actually like the blue and cheerful colour of this one better!

The Jewish Museum in Berlin

The Jewish Museum in Berlin

The Jewish Museum in Berlin. May 2011, Ulla Hennig

First the facts as they are given on Wikipedia:

“The Jewish Museum Berlin (Jüdisches Museum Berlin), in Berlin, Germany, covers two millennia of German Jewish history. It consists of two buildings. One is the old Kollegienhaus, a former courthouse, built in the 18th century. The other, a new addition specifically built for the museum, designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. This was one of the first buildings in Berlin designed after German reunification. The museum opened to the public in 2001.”

The museum is only 10 minutes away from where I live in Kreuzberg, Berlin. It presents one big permanent exhibition and always smaller, temporary ones. At the moment there is an exhibition about Radical Jewish culture.


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