Friday, July 28, 2006

Cities of the East (repost)

This is a repost of pictures taken when Meg (x-gf) was over in Germany last summer and we went to Berlin and Prague.


Today: pictures and commentary from Berlin and Prague. Pictures as last time are kind of huge, and should be opened in a new tab.


01 - A "call the police" billboard in Berlin, naehe Alexanderplatz
I first noticed billboards like this in Dresden, where, like some sections of Berlin, the citizenry spent 56 years of fascism and state socialism without a police force that could be trusted to impartially uphold the law rather than arrest random people for disliking the government. Even 15 years nach der Wende, this memory has apparently not been fully eradicated.

02 - African antelope, Berlin Zoological Garden
Meg's camera was having some issues at the time (mostly because it was a 10e POS that we had bought that morning while waiting for the train, instead of the Rebel with telephoto lenses that decided to stop working once it got into Germany), so I took this one for her. She has all the other pictures from the zoo, and most of the rest from Berlin.

03 - Victory Column, Berlin
I passed up the opportunity to potograph this from the Great Ring because this view, looking north from one of the boulevards leading towards it, was rather striking.

04 - Wall memorial, Berlin
This simple monument to the victims of the Wall is located in the middle of 17.-Juni-Strasse, which continues as Unter den Linden east of the Brandenburg Gate and the Parisplatz

05 - World Cup countdown clock, Berlin
This is also located on 17.-Juni-Strasse, right in front of the Russian WWII memorial, one of whose T-34s can be seen in the background. This was the last picture I took before the batteries in my camera ran out. Of course, this means no record of the hugeness and Soviet style of the Russian memorial, no pics of the Brandenburg Gate or the Reichstag, both of which were about 200 meters away, and no snooping on the German-Russian event that was starting at the Russian embassy on Unter den Linden while we were sitting unter den Linden and eating Turkish takeout. At least Meg got some good pictures before and after, and even if my camera had been functional to take pictures of the British embassy on Wilhelmstrasse (or its security folk), the police probably would not have been too appreciative.

06 - Saechsische Schweitz
A nice shot of the Elbe heading east towards Bad Schandau and the Czech.

07 - Saechsische Schweitz, downriver
This view is looking back to the west-northwest in the general direction of Dresden.

08 - Saechsische Schweitz, downriver
This view includes one of the small steamers that run from Dresden to Decin (apologies for lack of Czech accents, you can see them in the railway sign a few pictures down) and further into the Czech.

09 - Sachsische Schweitz, Sandsteinberg
This is one of several very impressive sandstone bluffs/mountaintops that give the Saechsische Schweitz (Saxonian Switzerland) its name; Meg got better pictures of several others from various locations the previous day, when we decided that we were going to move back to this area as soon as fiscally possible.

10 - Decin train station, Czech Republic
I'm in Czech! I'm in Czech! There are weird accent marks everywhere! Where is the sign with the three frogs! The following pictures will show not only some of the views in Prague and en route that struck us, but also what you should expect on taking a Monster fan into the Czech Republic. Handle with care........

11 - Railyard, Decin
Authentic Czech railyard! Authentic Czech little town! Authentic Moravian mountains!

12 - View towards church tower, outside Decin
This was supposed to be focusing on the church tower (barely visible in the center), but what you get, due to the role of the railway, is some Czech graffiti and communist-style industrial installations.

13 - Moravian Elbe
Another view along the Elbe, this time on the Czech side of the border.

14 - Moravian Elbe
Another shot along the river, looking back towards the border. There is a rather sharp change in landscape between "downriver of Schoerlitz" and "upriver of Decin" that can sort of be seen in this one.

15 - View east, steps of the National Museum, Prague
This shot includes a still-ruined church and part of the front of the National Opera (the glass-and-modern building in the foreground).

16 - View north, steps of the National Museum, Prague
This street is one of the central streets of Prague's tourist district, and is full of a lot of local color that Meg got shots of down at street level, including a lot of really cool modern sculpture and stands selling, among other things, "fried cheeseburgers", which are simultaneously the best and worst idea ever in cooking. Basically a giant mozzarella stick in the size and shape of a hamburger, everyone should eat one when they come to Prague, but only one.

17 - Facade of the National Museum, Prague
The front of the national Museum, which has exhibits on practically everything from European military medals to dinosaurs to gems to the history of human settlement in the region. The banner out front is for a featured traveling exhibition on Taiwan.

18 - Tower capital, National Museum, Prague
Another shot of the Museum architechture, still looking up from the front steps.

19 - Bust of Karel Capek, National Museum, Prague
This is where the Monster fandom comes back. Though this guy would probably have been Peter Capek's father or grandfather and of very little relevance to the events in the story, it is still a Capek with a bust immortalizing his contributions to Czech science. I had to take the picture, even though Meg was the only one with a photography permit (2 bucks, so I could easily have gotten one as well, but didn't -- tickets were 100 Ck [$4] per adult for the whole day).

20 - Wooden cobbles, Prague
Meg noticed a neat sign leading to a souvenir shop where she eventually picked up some hand-painted egg curios for her family. On the way in, we noticed that the alley leading to the courtyard where the shop was was paved with wooden blocks set in mortar, and I had to get a picture. Meg thought it wouldn't come out initially, but I leveraged the power of digital max zoom plus flash and got the resulting shot.

21 - Across the Moldau, downriver and toward the left bank, Prague
This and the following four pictures were shot from a bridge over the Moldau, one bridge upriver from the famous Carolus Bridge.

22 - Carolus Bridge from upriver, Prague
We eventually did get down to this bridge, though it was getting a little late (last train back at 7pm wtf), and Meg got some good shots of the sculptures along the bridge as well as the sights in the area. Unfortunately we were unable to cross and go through the museum of medieval torture implements.

23 - Czech government building, Prague
This Blockhaus style of architecture is also very prevalent in government edifices in Dresden, notably the turn-of-the-last-century works like the finance ministry and the police headquarters that the Saxon government still uses.

24 - Baroque street, upriver on the Moldau, Prague
This has no meaning beyond the neatness of the row of houses facing the water.

25 - Churches at the foot of the Carolus Bridge from upriver, Prague
Another "postcard" shot, but without other tourists in the foreground because we were on the applicable side of the bridge.

26 - Upriver on the Moldau from the Carolus Bridge, Prague
Here you can see the semi-dam in the river to protect the ancient stonework of the Carolus from the floods of the Moldau, as well as the bridge that the earlier pics were shot from.

27 - Prague main station, Czech Republic
Just a shot of the station sign; something else for Monster fans to spaz over.

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