Berlin has its typical tourist hot spots: the TV tower, the Zoo, Friedrichstraße, Potsdamer Platz…but I think the most interesting stuff is way off the beaten paths of Mitte & co. I took my camera along on my run today, thinking it might be interesting to show some forgotten (to tourists, anyway) corners of the former East Berlin….
When I checked the weekend weather predictions on Thursday, I was pretty excited to see that it was supposed to be 3 degrees celsius today. Great weather for a longer run with minimal butt numbness! So it was a bummer to get up this morning and see -8 on the thermometer (that’s about 20F). 20F is not long run weather, at least not for this whiny wimp. 20F is treadmill slog at the gym.
I was disappointed, but hopeful, given the bright sunshine, that the thermometer would take a turn for the better soon. I megafueled: müsli with buttermilk and a grated apple, plus whole grain roll with almond butter and jelly. Hey, it’s COLD. The only thing worse than running with a numb butt and frozen nipples is running with a numb butt and frozen nipples when you’re effing starving.
After all that food, it seemed like a run was almost mandatory. Also, Herr G. started doing some testosterone-fuelled household repair involving spackle and dismantling electrical sockets, the sheer Y-chromosome nature of which made me feel I should leave the house for a while. Also, the sun streaming through the windows highlighted the not-so-thin layer of cat hair on everything; the streaky window glass; and oh yes, a cobweb in a distant corner of the living room ceiling. Clearly, if I did not go running, I was going to have to clean.
So I got dressed and checked the thermometer and had to look twice to confirm the amazing meteorological news: WAY over 0! 3 degrees, in fact, just like the weather report said. I started to question my choice of fleece-lined leggings, three shirts, gloves, and a hat. Might this not be the time to break out the running outfit I’m most comfortable in??
Well, I win more marathons in that outfit for sure, but I decided Berlin wasn’t quite ready for it, so decided not to change and headed out. I stuck my cell phone in my pocket, thinking now that I am finally going for a run when it’s actually light out, I might actually be able to take some photos for the blog. Voila! Behold the photographic glory of the 3-year-old Nokia!
I started, of course, on my street:
Jogged for about a kilometer on city streets, then turned right onto the canal path.
This goes on for about 4km, nice and flat, later on a bit full of people out for their Saturday stroll, or proving it’s never too cold for Bocce:
The odd abandoned boat keeps things interesting:
After about 4km, I turn right and head over this old, approx 800m. long rail bridge
…the former train tracks take me past old factories and warehouses, now either abandoned or renovated into offices:
….and into the neighboring district of Treptow, where I enter the seemingly anodyne Treptower Park
Imma ruin your surprise and just say here that Treptower Park is hands-down the trippiest place in all of Berlin. There’s the Soviet madness below; and then – and THEN – well, I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say “massive overturned metal dinosaurs”, and perhaps “vine-strangled collapsing rollercoaster”, and save those photos for another day.
Back to my run today! Your first sign that something about these benign green meadows may not be so benign: the faint opening strands of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, seemingly out of nowhere. You look up from your runner’s reverie, and -
What the hell? Alien spacecraft, perhaps? Let’s take a closer look:
Welcome to the Sowjetisches Ehrenmal. It is simultaneously a monument to the victory over Germany in WWII, and a “war grave”/memorial to 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the 1945 Battle of Berlin. The Soviets got started on this in 1946, just in case it wasn’t quite clear who was boss, I guess.
In the centre is a stylized graveyard, with a metal laurel wreath and grass plots. Along the sides you can see big marble relief-carved blocks depicting scenes of Germans doing nasty things to Soviet peasants (and the peasants rebelling).
The marbles on the left are in Russian, and on the right in German. I should have taken a photo of a German one so I could tell you what it says. They are all along the lines of “the Red Army spent 20 years peacefully building up the socialist utopia until Hitler came along and ruined everything, but now we’ve freed Germany from the fascist tyrant and they better not forget it.” (God, I should not be so flippant about this – it’s my default mode, but WWII is really only funny in a Blackadder episode.)
At the opposite end from the big sandstone triangles stands this guy:
Unfortunately the photo does not do justice to the statue. Dude is 100 feet tall, holding a small child, and standing on a crushed swastika.
I usually run here, run around the ouside of the whole monument area, and then continue through the park, running back along the river Spree, which was looking…cold?
This is an iconic Berlin photo: the two hole-y, metal grappling dudes and the TV tower (sadly barely visible…grr…) in the background:
A bit further along comes another iconic and here sadly underrepresented view, the Oberbaumbrücke and the TV tower in the background (click on the photo for a larger version to see what the heck I’m talking about):
Shortly after this, I take a left, away from the river, run a few hundred meters through an industrial-type area, cross a road, and am magically back on the canal, able to retrace my steps back home. For those feeling extra stalky, here is the map from my Garmin:
That was that! It was a very easy, relaxed 9.5-mile run, not least because I stopped like 30 times to take photos. Average pace was about 9 min/mile. When I got home, the man of my dreams brought me a tuna salad bagel which I immediately devoured (with extra cheese) before moving on to chocolate and tea…two hours later, I’m finally warm and might have to tackle that cleaning after all :/
How was your Saturday?