Peter and I headed into Berlin late this morning, initially to have a look around. We planned to visit the Reichstag and to go up into the dome above the parliament chambers, but the dome was closed to the public so we gave up on that idea. On my several visits to Berlin, including when I myself lived in Potsdam as a student in 1992, I have only been in the Reichstag once, and that was during the building’s refurbishment, before the seat of government returned to the Reichstag.

We grabbed some lunch and then caught the U-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz on a quest to visit the former Fuehrerbunker, where one of history’s biggest tits and the man who tainted German history finally did the decent thing (a few years too late) and shot himself. I have a need to visit places of historic significance; to stand on the ground where key events in our history (good and bad) happened. There are mixed feelings over marking the Fuehrerbunker, out of fears that it could become a shrine to right-wing extremists, but the authorities relented in the last few years by marking the spot with a plain information sign. The bunker itself is inaccessible and buried beneath a residential block’s car park and childen’s playground in the middle of Berlin, which is probably as fitting an end as it deserves. Nevertheless, it is a place of great historical significance, as the events that happened there ultimately hastened the end of WW2.

Next, we headed to Friedrichstrasse, where Peter had some employment-related business to attend to. I wandered down the road, almost decided to go around the Checkpoint Charlie museum (another place I haven’t visited), before I decided that it needed a longer time period than I had to do it justice, so I went for a walk around the area, before grabbing a coffee at Starbuck’s.

Peter’s business concluded, we returned to Potsdam.


Off to visit brother and family in Potsdam

Flew out to Berlin today to visit my younger brother Peter and family, who live in the neighbouring city of Potsdam. The flight out was fine and Peter met me at the airport and then drove me back to the flat in Potsdam, where I met Susi and their children, Felix and Annie, again. It was good to see them all again and nice of them to invite me over to coincide with the final performance in Helge Schneider’s current tour, which took place at Berlin’s Admiralspalast theatre – a stone’s throw from the Friedrichstrasse train station in the middle of Berlin.

Helge Schneider is a very talented German multi-instrumentalist and comedian, who performs what can only be described as comedy jazz, featuring spoken comedy interludes and ad-libs between songs. He has again assembled a talented group of musisicians for his tour, comprising players from all over the world. It would be difficult to think of a British (or other) parallel, but if you took a mix of Monty Python surrealism, some 1970s tat, and jazz music, you’d be on the right lines. His humour uses wordplay, philosophy, and in complete contrast, occasional smut, to great effect.

His assembled group (Cirque du Kautz – or Owl Circus) itself featured some interesting characters. I was particularly pleased to see Pete York on drums. York formed and played with the Spencer Davis group in the 1960s, but in his own right is an extrememly talented jazz drummer and jazz drummers are simply the best drummers. We (Peter, Susi, and I) all enjoyed the evening and it was nice to have an evening out with them in a nice environment, drinking some nice German beer and being entertained by some good comedy and music.