july 2001 berlin

july 2001 was the last time i visited berlin before moving there. it was another business trip for softimage, and the main purpose was to eradicate a number of bugs in mental ray that were too hard to describe via email. while i was here i spent a bunch of time walking around, getting a feel for what berlin would be like to live in, taking pictures, recording impressions. these are some pics from this exercise.

this is the tip of one of the modern parts of the memorial church at the centre of former west berlin. i got lucky that the sun was in the right place to catch the light in the cross, and that a jet flew over just then. the second picture is a part of the interiour. this cathedral was bombed at the end of wwii, and it was decided to turn it into a memorial rather than restore it. it's a bit sad, but it makes a beautiful memorial.

finally, there is a shot at night. there are two newer towers next to the church itself. these are lit in blue at night, which looks great.

this is the building where i work, the kant dreieck, which means the kant triangle (three-corner, literally). we have the top three floors. the triangle on the top is meant to look like a sail, time-pirates-esque. it has a sensor for the wind direction, and will actually spin to match the direction. in case of strong storm winds, there is a failsafe mechanism which lets the wind actually turn it, if the motor can't keep up. once i sneaked into the sail with k from work, and crawled around inside, trying to figure out how it all works. we even went to the tip, from where you can look down through some vent holes. neat stuff.
this is one of the most beautiful cars ever, in my opinion. james bond has one nearly like this in goldfinger, which ejects people through the roof. just a gorgeous gorgeous car. the savoy hotel is where we stayed the first time i came with softimage to visit mental images. the next three times i came alone, and stayed in a much more humble place, which i actually prefer. i don't like fancy hotels that much. i feel fake being in them for some unknown reason, as if i am important or something.
this is one of my favorite kinds of pictures to take. details. i just love little details of the world, both natural and man-made, like these bolts on the legs of the stock exchange in west berlin.

these löschwassereinspeisung signs are everywhere. i think they are places where the fire fighters can attach their hoses to get water to places, not to get water from, but i have somehow managed to forget the explanation. i love them, because the word is so long :) the germans tend to concatenate words, so you can get really exceptionally long words for things, which is great fun to memorise. one of my favorites is wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung, which means the law of probabilities.

when i was here, the weather was gorgeous, and i went with my friend thomas from work on a bike ride around a lake west of berlin. it was just a beautiful day, and a great ride. here we are enjoying some kind of non-alcoholic beer-like drink, i forget what the name was. the building is where churchill et al went to write the agreement about splitting up germany after wwii. i am a little low on specific names of places, i realise, but that's just kinda like me. i am impressed by views and places, but rarely by names.
the big park in the middle of berlin is called tiergarten, which means animal garden. it is absolutely huge, and very beautiful. i love it especially in the summer, of course, but even in the winter it is still nice. it is very unlike north american parks in that there is very little obvious manicuring going on. it is more or less just let grow as it wants, with some maintenance of the paths, and some care to remove harmful weeds and such. a very peaceful place.
the sony centre is located by potsdamer platz, just by the east end of tiergarten. this area used to be very busy before the war, then kinda died during the war, and since then it has taken a long time for it to recoup. there is kinda nothing really there, soul-wise. there are some art galleries, some music halls, a casino, and the sony centre, and a few hyper-modern and expensive apartments, and that's more or less it. anyway, i liked taking a few pictures of the sony centre. interestingly, there is some kind of zoning by-law which states that you are obligated to provide a certain percentage of housing when you install a large number of offices, so part of the sony centre is offices, and part is apartments. i am not completely in touch with what the laws are, but there you go. in one of those galleries, i saw this bike.
the berlin zoo is an old-style european zoo with some modern updates, ie. the animals are mostly in very small cages designed to show them off, and not for their comfort. it is a bit depressing to see them like this, honestly, especially when you have seen what a zoo can be, like the toronto zoo. anyway, i like animals, so i went anyway.

the elefant was constantly sticking it rear leg through the tire, which was hilarious to watch. then it would struggle to get out, walk around a bit, attack the tire, and then stick its leg in again :)

the bear and the cat are friends. one day, there was a kitten in the bear's cage, and no one knew where it came from, but the bear was very protective of it, and so it stayed. now the cat is fully grown and they are friends and share everything. i want to say that the world could learn something from this, but it is so bloody obvious that this is the case that i won't. instead i will just let you make your own realisation at your own pace.

there are not many pandas in the world, but two are here. they were incredibly peaceful to watch. they just take their time with everything and always look like the are smiling and happy. pandas are undoubtedly buddhist.

and that was it for this time. since i now live in berlin, i won't be adding any more berlin pics to my travel section. they will show up elsewhere.