Saturday, 30 April 2011

Berlin - Second day (around the Charlottenburg area) - 22nd of April 2011

On our way to the Charlottenburg Palace, we chose to go along the Schlossstrasse street because despite the fact that many of the  villas and historical buildings no longer exist three have been recently restored, one of which being worth seing (in neo-classical style and dating back to 1837).

N° 67  villa on Schlossstrasse

The origins of the Charlottenburg Palace date back to a small palace and summer residence (Schloss Lietzenburg) built around 1695 for the second wife of Friedrich III. It wasn't but in 1701 that it was extended and turned into a second residence of Queen Sophie Charlotte.

We walked around the Palace baroque gardens and visited the Dorian temple like Mausoleum where Queen Louise, Friedrich Wilhelm III,  princess  Auguste von Liegniz (his second wife), Kaiser Wilhelm I and his wife have been buried. 

The front (Right) and back (Left) part of the Palace

Two different views of the gardens

The Mausoleum (Left) and the Palace dom (Right)

We then headed towards the Deutsche Oper Berlin, fifteen minutes away from the Palace to watch the "Schneewittchen" ballett performed by the Staatsballett Berlin to the music of Gustav Mahler.

The ballett dancers left the audience visibly moved all the way through their performance though the last moments, when the Prince performed by Leonard Jakovina tries to bring Snow White (Elisa  Carrillo Cabrera) back to life, were absolutely memorable.

The perfect way to end the day ... 

Friday, 29 April 2011

Berlin - The second day (around Kurfürstendamm and Potsdamer Platz) - 22nd of April 2011

As we walked out of the Wittenberg-platz U-bahn station we came across a beautiful fountain just across the KaDeWe which according to the guide book  is the largest departement store in Europe, having soon after the second world war become a symbol of economic success in Germany. It was fairly early in the morning and apart from that a public holiday in Germany, so we might not have a chance to see what it looks like on the inside.

The facade of the Peek and Cloppenburg warehouse to the left of Taeuntzienstrasse caught our attention because of its originality, though its central bedgarden has a well known twisted and  interwinned bar sculpture named "Berlin" symbolising the former divided Germany.

The facade of the Peek and Cloppenburg warehouse (Left). The Wittenberg Platz fountain (Right).

Two different perspectives of the "Berlin" sculpture.

As we reached the  1895 neo-roman Gedächniskirche, which I had been wanting to visit for a long time, I realised that not only was it closed and framed but under repair works, so I will not be able to see its majestic mosaics nor even get a glimpse of its facade.

"Es ist schade", as the Germans would say ... and it really is a pity ..., but there will certainly be other things to see that might get me distracted from the fact that one of the things I mostly wanted to see will have to wait for an "unknown" period of time.

We then turned onto Kantstrasse to see what was on stage at the Theater des Westens, whose neo-classical facade incorporating some Art Nouveau elements is worth looking at.

Theater des Westens

We ended up unexpectedely walking onto the Potsdamer Platz and some remains of the Berlin Mauer to soon find ourselves walking around the Topographie des Terrors memorial walls exhibiting shocking pictures and descriptions of some of the nazi crimes. These reminded me of some of the images of the extermination camps and if I had not visited Auschwitz and Birkenau before I would have most probably been extremely disturbed ...

Some Berlin wall remains (Left). The Topographie des Terrors gallery (Right).

We haven't stopped since early morning and still have quite a few kilometres to "cover" till we reach the Charlottenburg area, which we want to walk to so that we may see a few interesting things on the way.

(To be continued)

Berlin - First day (around Warschauer Strasse) - 21st of April 2011

I had seen images of the Oberbaumbrücke before but hadn't realised that the yellow one storey high building like doors that seemed to magestically blend with the colours of the brick were simply the  carriages of the U-bahn line 1 (how distracted was why when I first looked at the images !!!).

Two views of the Oberbrücke (with and without the U-bahn train)

 Two views of the Oberbrücke  from the Warschauer Strasse

The interesting thing about this 1894  neo - Gothic arcade bridge over the river Spree is that it was closed for about 12 years prior to the  re-unification and during that period only well documented city dwellers were authorised to walk across it, once it connected both sides of the Berlin wall.
We walked a bit farther into the Kreutzberg area to see a richly detailed street painting of the well known Italian artist Blu - the image of a  huge man made up of small crawling men. Very close to it there was a building which reminded me of  the Austrian Hundertwasser buildings.

Blu's street painting (Left). The Hundertwasser like painted house in Kreutzberg (Right).

We decided not to go back to our Hotel before having one last look at  some of the West Side gallery painted murals and were as impressed as hours before ...

On the way to Comenius hotel we stopped at a Turkish restaurant and had a great meal.

We are really looking forward to what tomorrow might bring and just hope tonight's rest will help us "restore" the necessary energy for tomorrow's long day ahead ...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Berlin - First day (along Mühlen Strasse) - 21st of April 2011

Mia and I have today flown into Tegel and because of being lodged in the Berlin area of Friedrichshain decided to start our  afternoon visit by walking along the 1,300 metre distance long East Side Gallery, which in spite of having been renovated in 2009 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall still has some of the original mural paintings.

Some of them are quite impressive, particularly those which seem to literally come out of the wall. Styles vary enormously because of the countless different artists who put their personal views and painting characteristics onto this memorial canvas ... but they all  seem to add something to the "story" of the unification of Germany.

These are just some of the hundreds of photos I took and I should confess the choice was hard.

After having watched this we felt that not much more would actually impress us throughout the rest of the afternoon ...  but I have been told this city holds quite a few "surprises" ... so we are determined to come across some of those ...

(to be continued)

Maria Andresen ... the choice between to look and to see ...

I have just been "taken" by a book ... or maybe I should say a collection of interviews by Maria João Seixas using the anniversary of the Portuguese Republic as the scenario setting to gather opinions from 14 Portuguese  (female) poets and novelists on a number of issues related to the Republic, as well as their "writing" adventures.

Among the various questions "tell me a word of your choice" is the one she finishes the interviews with and in spite of the fact that I  have read more than once many of the women's answers when it came to this particular question, Maria Andresen's answer struck me as reflecting my personal opinion.

"Could it be a verb? The word of my choice, as requested, will then be, to look. I enjoy looking and equally enjoy been looked at, I enjoy the impact of the look. I enjoy looking at people, things, everything around me, the world. I feel one understands, assimilates and organizes as in accordance with what one sees, before doing it in any other way. It is by looking that one "sees" and understands. I enjoy the light shed by things: When I refer to things I may be talking about a mountain, a gesture,  a leaning against a shoulder. It is because of the shed light, when one's look captures it, that one perceives what is not immediately discernible or even comprehensible by any other senses or the  understanding itself. I have hesitated in selecting to look or to see, but feel that  to see is more conceptual and to look  more "at the skin surface", thus having a lot more to do with what I am talking about ".

(free translation from the original in Portuguese)

Looking beyond my blurred image (Cappadoccia 2010).

Information on the above referred book:
Seixas, Maria João, Republica das mulheres, Bertrand Editora 2010 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Nobel prize winning novelist "out" in the streets of Lisbon ...

Portuguese "street Art" has taken the Nobel prize winning novelist Saramago "out" into the streets of Lisbon by having him and his wife Pilar painted on the walls of an old house down town ...

I had been wanting to photograph it for weeks, though I was not carrying my camera everytime I drove by ... so Saturday morning I just took to the streets of down town to  do it.

"We always get to where we are being waited at" (Left). "One had rather behave foolishly but move forward than not move at all" (Right).

I must confess I didn't read all of his books and certainly not the ones he seems to have been highly praised for ... though from a first experience of giving voice to an extract of Baltasar and Blimunda  (1982) for a film back in the  nineties, whose difficult and long prose almost left me out of breath, I went onto  reading the Manual of painting and caligraphy (1997), All the names (1997), Journey to Portugal (1981), The tale of the unknown island (1997), Memories of my youth (2006), Death with interruptions (2005) and The elephant's journey (2008), with All the names being my favourite and Memories of my youth having provided me an insight into his life.

I have often bought his translated books in French to offer and those who got to "know" him were all tempted to further continue reading him, not simply because he had been a Nobel laureate.

Whether this paintings bring the attention he deserves it's controversial ... maybe as controversial as his career seems to have been (irrespective of the winning prize) ...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The children of Calheta (still) ...

I have today been with two of the "godmothers" of Calheta (Surama and Cristina Marques) to hand them out the cards that came  from Simone Neuza and Artemisa for them.

I took the opportunity to take Cristina Marques' photo, as I hadn't yet had the possibility to and thank her once more for together with her sister-in-law Manuela Reduto having taken the decision to help Artemisa when a few months back I was told that this girl was in need.

Cristina Marques (Left) and Artemisa (Right).

I have also been with Lurdes who has informed me that her son Luis and daughter-in-law will be sending a packet to Cape Verde for Eunice's birthday next 24th of April, together with something for Kevin whose school fees will also be under their responsibility.

A T-shirt, some blue trousers, a decorated pencil, a pencil case, a vanilla scented baby doll and a sticker book for Eunice (Left). A T-shirt, some red shorts
 and a sticker book for Kevin (Right).

The latest piece of news being that a colleague of mine (Felizardo) upon having heard that a young lady from Calheta  (Elisabeth) who is attending Law school in Assomada needed a laptop gave me his word that he would make it possible for me to take one with me next September for her.

Elizabeth wearing a blouse sent by Carla Brigida

Despite the fact that I don't travel to Cape Verde as often as I would like to (flying there is not that cheap)  I know they know we all care and worry about them ...


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Some of the latest news on the children of Calheta in Cape Verde ...

These are some of the people who have recently joined the "project of Calheta" and will ensure the payment of the school fees and school material of  afew of the children of Calheta.

Carlos Saboga and his children will be "looking after" Eunice de Jesus' school needs, together with Luis and his girlfriend Kátia "providing" for the school needs of Eunice and Kevin. Lurdes (Luis' mother) who is already "in charge" of Diva upon having heard that Elcy would like to have a "godmother" decided to "take on" the challenge. Charlotte has also decided to "provide" for the school needs of two girls (Marline and Delmízia), with the family Tavares (Marco and Micá) having taken the responsibility for Nolita's school needs.

The school fees for 2012 have therefore been ensured and will be paid by the beginning of September.

Luis and Kátia (Left). Eunice (Right) and Kevin (below).

Márcio and Kevin (from left to right).

Carlos Saboga and his children (Left). Eunice de Jesus (Right).

Lurdes (Left) and Elcy (Right).

Micá and Marco Tavares (Left) and Nolita (Right).

There are now a total of 32 children we are "responsible for" in terms of school needs (27),  kindergarten (2) and basic needs (3), with 7 potential "godparents" on a waiting list. All I can say is  that we are widening up our "net of solidarity" even in a moment of crisis like the one we are actually facing ...

List of children "godparents" have provided for: 
Kindergarten (2010) - Nelsinha.
Kindergarten (2011) - Nelsinha and Marquinho
School (2011) -  Leinira, Simone, Neuza, Justina, Tarine, Ivanilda, Eduardo and Elias.
School (2012) - Leinira, Simone, Neuza, Justina, Tarine, Ivanilda, Joceline, Ivanilda Elena, Diva, Rosana, Carla, Rivia, Lola, Artemisa, Josefine, Erica, Eunice, Eunice de Jesus, Jessica, Nolita, Delmízia, Marline, Eduardo, Ismael, Veinilson, Kevin and Elias.
Basic needs (2010) - Leidina.
Basic needs (2011) - Leidina, Odete and Aniza.

List of "godparents" who have got "protégés" - Gabriela Girão, Maria João Ramos,  Isabel Castilho, Carla Oliveira, Sandra Sousa, Fatima, Paula Braga, Surama, Sérgio, Carla Brígida, Lurdes, Carla Carreira,  Cristina Marques, Manuela Reduto, Marie Hélène, Noëlle, Celeste Catarino, Rosário Vidal, Paula Martins, Luis Matoso, Salomé, Cecília, Luis Pinto, Kátia, Francisco Lisboa, Carlos Saboga, Marco and Micá Tavares, Charlotte and myself.

Note: Photos of Charlotte will be published as soon as I get them, together with  the ones of Cristina Marques, Manuela Reduto,  Sérgio and  Francisco Lisboa ("godparents" of Marline, Delmizia, Artemisa, Ismael and Jessica respectively).