Enjoying this report K2 thank you. I was last in Berlin at a similar time ( Dec 2006) and had an enjoyable few days despite the cold. I found it a generally grey city at that time of year which made the impact of the colour in the Xmas markets even more noticeable. I stayed in Potsdamer and the sled run then was full of snow and great fun was being had by many. I don't remember quite how it happened but for some reason we ended up on one of the roof top buildings of one of the private residences and the view over Berlin was amazing. I must see if I can track down some of my photos. I agree re the Holocaust memorial - really there is little to explain it other than the grey slabs that resemble grave stones.
Once on the platform, I examined the map and saw that I was in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, this was a station (as is the case in very few Parisian stations) where there are totally different entrances for opposite directions. So I got out and crossed the street to the other side. This is when paranoia began to set in. I had read the rules for public transportation. I knew that the ticket was valid for 2 hours on different modes of transportation, but that backtracking was forbidden. I had not seen any ticket checkers since arriving in Berlin, but I suddenly felt like a magnet. I have been without mercy on other travel forums where stupid tourists got caught without a valid ticket in Paris. They always think that saying "but I'm a tourist; I just made an honest mistake" will get them off the hook. It doesn't. So I sat with the other passengers and just hoped that the few stations before the connection would go by without incident. I was lucky, except for the fact that I realised that I had missed my stop while lost in my thoughts about the Berlin transport prison and had to go back in the other direction again. Well, this would put me in the correct direction for the original validation, but I would be getting off before the station where I had validated the ticket, which I knew was not permitted. Just two stations to go... And then the ticket checkers got on.
I had a slim hope of arriving at the next station before the ticket checkers reached me, but this was not to be. I gave the guy my ticket and braced myself for the worst. He just looked at for a split second and gave it back to me. Berlin luckily still uses primitive cardboard tickets and stamping machines. No sophisticated magnetic strips or anything. So the guy just looked at the date and time and not the name of the validation station, which was not easily visible anyway since nobody ever changes the ink ribbons in those machines. I was saved.
I had completely forgotten about cross walk man until I saw your images. It strikes me that the street art is a welcome interruption to the generally grey buildings, although the U bahn and of course the Xmas markets break the mould. I wonder how it all looks in the Summer?
Lugg, it's much nicer in summer. There are quite a lot of trees in Berlin, lots of painted houses, not to mention the graffitti. I also found the city rather gray when we went in April but it was quite different in June.
I wanted to see Karl-Marx Allee again, but it was a bit complicated to go there, whereas the "other" Karl-Marx place was directly on the subway line, so I went to see something I had never seen before.
I remember Amsterdam Oost being very much like the immigrant areas K2 showed. Unfortunately as it is a much smaller city, "silly" gentrification takes root much faster. Oh, of course there are still Turkish, South Asian and Moroccan restaurants, butchers and bakers. But there are a lot of silly things that could be anywhere in the Western world. Bixa will know they kind of businesses I'm referring to, as they have also multiplied in the area where she stayed farther west; a similar neighbourhood.