First: yesterday I lost my mobile phone somewhere in Berlin. No photos of Tivoli, no alarms in the morning, I’m quite unlucky but I’ll survive.
HNF. This is the first thing I experienced in Berlin, excluding the transportation system. HNF stands for Helmut Newton Foundation, a monumental museum about Helmut and June Newton’s work and their life. I loved the portraits made by her, there’s an entire floor dedicated to them. She had the eye and the softness to bring out the inner self of so many people, famous and not. One of my favourites is the portrait she made of Brigitte Nielsen and child. It’s so strong. The best thing is to be able to look in the eyes of the subjects and be watched by them, at the same time. I spent literally hours and hours in the museum. Her work, released under the alias “Alice Springs”, is in the second floor. The third floor was dedicated to a collection of microphotography but I pretty much skipped it, I don’t really care about enlargements of bacterias and sponges.
Helmut. One thing I watched from the beginning to the is an hour long video of Newton’s work filmed by the wife with a low-quality videocamera. A home made thing, it is lovely. You can see the true spirit of the photographer, how did he think and relate to the models, his process, his life. He was obsessed by his work, I think it’s one of the ingredients to become a genius at anything, you have to obsessessed about it (also you need to have the talent to perform it the right way). He pushed the models to the edge, to receive back the photos he wanted to take, like an exceptional director.
Private life. The first floor is dedicated to the Newtons. Private pictures of the both of them, Helmut’s photographic equipment, tools, books, a car, a reconstruction of a room in Monaco’s apartment, his tear sheets and more. I stayed there reading all the original letters written by the people that loved him, worked with him, posed for him; letters sent to June right after his death in 2004. Those written by his friends, heads of states, royal families members, actors, journalists, editors, even Margaret Tatcher herself! Go see the foundation if you’re in Berlin, it is worth it.
Hostel. Yesterday afternoon I checked in at Generator Hostel because I didn’t find a couchsurfer in time. Actually two room mates offered me space but it was too late in the afternoon :-( I’ll see if I can move at their place next week. The hostel is cheap, clean and huge. Nice.
Transportation. I started getting a, little, hang of the system just this afternoon. I don’t really like it so far, the sign are a mess, sometimes there are too many options and since I don’t know any german I keep messing up. It’s irritating. S-Bahn stations are pretty much all in the open air and dirty, in winter it is hell to wait 14 minutes for the ring line freezing.
Invalidenstrasse. This morning I tried to look for the lost and found office (for my phone) of the S-Bahn with no luck. Used to the easy transportation system in Stockholm and small distances of Copenhagen I went out in the cold but had no luck. Invalidenstrasse is uber long and I already hate that numbers on buildings are mixed on both sides of streets. Luckily germans are nice people, though not all of them speak english. Either way they will help you, my bad that I can’t understand a single word in German.
Alexanderplatz. After a not very good “italian” pizza (yes I know, I shouldn’t go to an italian restaurant outside borders) me and my camera moved to Alexanderplatz. I’m starting to think that the key of Berlin are its trams. It took me just 10 minutes instead of the infinite whiles of time on the S-Bahn to get to the square. The place is immense but one of the first thing I noticed wasn’t the crowd or anything like that but the huge amount of birds flying low. I took some pictures too. I wanted to go above the Fernsehturm (the television tower) but two hours of waiting ahead of me were too much. I’ll go another day.
Unter den Linden. After Alexanderplatz I behaved like a good tourist and asked a police officer how to get to the Brandenburg Gate. After a mile or so I started losing the sensitivity in my fingers (damn camera!) and ran into a museum without even thinking what I was doing. After an half hour on a bench inside watching the floor and aching I regained the proper use of my hands and walked outside.
I have serious problems with the cold, I think I can’t live in a place where after 30 minutes of walking in the cold with gloves (ski gloves) I have to run inside some bar or some place to feel my hands again. I think tomorrow I’ll go out with two pairs of gloves and the strips I bought to keep hands warm. I see no other solution, otherwise I’ll keep staying in the tube or inside museums all the time.
Brandenburg Gate. Finally I saw the famouse gate, the sun already set so the gate was properly lit. After taking some pictures I grabbed a chocolate mocha in the near Starbucks and made peace with the world.
Here I am writing this from the hostel. I’m not sure where I’ll go tomorrow, haven’t decided yet. I’m sorry I keep complaining about the cold but it’s the only problem I’m having right now, I can’t even concentrate because I don’t feel my hands after few minutes and it happens really fast even with proper gloves (they saved my life in Stockholm, the two pairs I had on previously were pretty much useless at -15).