Sunday was cold, windy and rainy, The Fearsome Three, and it would have been such a perfect day to stay inside, cuddle up on the sofa and watch old movies. 

But, hey, life is not all guns'n'roses, huh? 

So I went outside to get an inside scoop on the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin Kreuzberg.

Until 1989 the Martin-Gropius-Bau, one of the world's leading exhibition halls, was located at the Berlin Wall. 
Martin-Gropius-Bau with remnants of Berlin Wall
 Formerly housing the Museum of Decorative Arts, the building was errected in Renaissance style by the architects Martin Gropius – a great uncle of the famous BAUHAUS architect – and Heino Schmieden. Allegoric mosaics from different eras as well as coats of Arms of German Länder (federal states) adorn the outer walls.

Seeking shelter under the canopy of the opposite House of Representatives where I could get a good view and overall picture of the Martin-Gropius-Bau, I immediately drew the suspicion of the eye of the law on duty who took a few hesitating steps into my direction, but then surrendered to my most winning smile and twinkling eye.

Watch details in video:

As soon as I entered the Martin-Gropius-Bau a very charming lady custodian approached me and asked, if I knew who Martin Gropius were, as many people confuse him with his great-nephew Walter and subsequently wonder about the non-BAUHAUSish architecture of the building.
Martin-Gropius-Bau skylight view from ground floor
The following video shows the skylight topview:

The building's massive square footprint (70 x 70 m) is split by an atrium to draw natural light to every floor during daytime. Sadly the atrium was closed during my visit, but you can get an impression on this website.
Martin-Gropius-Bau footprint

Inaugurated in 1881 and housing the Museum of Pre- and Early History and the East Asian Art Collection after World War I, the building was severely damaged during the final weeks of World War II.

Only as recently as 1966 the building was included under a preservation order. Restoration work began in 1978 under the direction of Winnetou Kampmann and Ute Westström. It was then named after Martin Gropius who had vigorously supported the reconstruction (Schmieden had died aged 78 in 1913).

Today, the building is globally known as a venue for temporary exhibitions of international standing.

Berliner Festspiele


Vintage Double-decker Bus to Wannsee

If you are into vintage cars, there is a good chance you also have a soft spot for vintage busses.

Bus Stop "Pfaueninsel"
Good news: In Berlin you can have a bumpy ride to Wannsee on a regular vintage city bus. 
The number 218 bus runs every other hour starting out at Theodor-Heuss-Platz (for exact schedule follow this link).
My starting point: Theodor-Heuss-Platz
It even takes you right through Grunewald forest on a road forbidden to other vehicles (watch video below).

The trip also takes you past a pitoresque landmark of the region, the Grunewald Tower and ends at the terminus Pfaueninsel.
Click on pic below to enlarge.


Prussian Paradise – The Peacock Island

Last Tuesday I took advantage of what I assumed to probably be one of late summer's last warm days to venture forth to Berlin's famous Lake Wannsee, and, in particular, the “Pfaueninsel” or “Peacock Island”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peacock Island – view from ferry boat

To get to the island by bus you might want to start at U Theodor-Heuss-Platz and take number 218 (goes every hour) right to the terminus. From there you take the small ferry boat departing every 15 minutes. Every other hour you can have a bumpy ride on the vintage bus with its overstuffed benches, just as comfortable as grandma's sofa. I strongly suggest you try this.


After a chequered history in which figure a wendish village in the island's northeast, rabbit breeding and an alchemistic glass foundry, King Frederick William II (Friedrich Wilhelm II.), King of Prussia, Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel, nephew and successor of famous “Old Fritz”, aka “Frederick the Great” took over the island that had lied fallow for over 100 years.

Already as a young prince Frederick William had spent many precious and romantic hours with his beloved mistress “Wilhelmine Encke”, daughter of a chamber musician at Frederick the Great's court.
Now he installed a dairy farm in the island's east and built the white palace serving as love nest in the west. The interior of this palace survived two world wars and has been almost completely preserved until today.

The place holds a good deal of magic for kids, if I want to trust the various reviews from "ex-children" on the Internet.

They seem to be very fond of the palace which to me – quite frankly – looks like the imitation of a bouncy castle without the fun the latter might provide. For kids it might look like a real fairy-tale castle, though.

Anyhow, I went there to take some pics for you, gentle nature loving reader, and so I spent two rather boring hours walking around in this natural preserve, shooting photos and never being able to get anywhere close to the Lake Wannsee.

It is strictly forbidden to leave the official paths and they make sure visitors do not infringe those provisions by securing the bank slopes with electrified fencing. Ouch!

As the island is a natural preserve, visitors are not allowed to bring animals or bikes onto the island, neither is it permitted to lie down anywhere else than on the one lawn referred to as “Liegewiese”.
Liegewiese = lawn for sun bathing

Smoking is forbidden as well and passing gas might be somewhere down the list, too – if you care to take a closer look.
Now, as I mentioned my boredom with this idyllic island, it is only fair to state that I'm not exactly a fan of virgin landscapes or wildlife, but rather of tutored lawns (like the Liegewiese, I admit), well-groomed hedges and insect free environments. I know ... I know …

They have that really extensive lawn for sunbathing.
What I didn't understand was why the hell they don't have a playground for children there, too.
Altogether I think it's a beautiful little island.

You might be interested in watching this little film by Stefan Wirth on Youtube.


Vintage Cars on Berlin's Ku'damm – Shots

I'll do better when I have more time to bring the pics online!