not a Berliner

There in the distance? That's the JFK bridge in Hamburg.
There in the distance? That’s the JFK Bridge in Hamburg.

Lately, there’s been plenty for me write about, and I just haven’t been doing it. The last several posts were photos that I certainly liked, but there wasn’t much text. The whole point of this blog is to show off my writing, so these filler posts without much content go against what I originally set out to do. There might be times when a curious photo and a few lines of texts is all I’ve got time or energy for, but I’d prefer that to be the exception rather than the rule.

My favourite week in Munich tends to be when we have our Filmfest, which starts this weekend, so I already had something up my sleeve in which I’d planned to ramp up this blog again. Then I was out and about with Ella and Louis, the sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas that have featured prominently in this blog, and found myself walking across the John F. Kennedy Bridge.

Why not at least  a mention of what happened today, 26 June, exactly 50 years ago? If you’re like I am, you check out ‘this day in history’-type entries in the paper or online, so you already know that this is the day in 1963 that Kennedy gave his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ speech in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg in West Berlin

Whatever you think of his politics, and I’m most certainly not going to get into that here, it was the height of the Cold War, and a significant gesture of solidarity to the citizens living in the divided once and future capital of Postwar Germany.

The Berlin Wall went up, and the Americans response was to send planes in filled with supplies, so that the city could continue to survive while surrounded by  Soviet-supported East Germany. Not an easy time here in my adopted home country, and at that moment in history it was incredibly unclear what was going to happen next.

The gratitude that West Germany felt for Kennedy’s show of support – both symbolic, as well as practical – was what led to major German cities naming things like bridges after him. The one here in Munich is the northern part of the Middle Ring Road that goes over the River Isar. It’s not particularly beautiful, and I doubt many locals under a certain age even realise that the bridge even has a name. 

The Kennedy Bridge in Hamburg (pictured above) is what divides the Binnenalster and Außenalster, which are the beautiful lakes right in the heart of the Hansestadt that is Hamburg. Whether you’re on the S-Bahn or ICE Train between the Main Train Station and the Dammtor, in which case you’re riding along the JFK Bridge, or walking along the Alster, there’s a memorial to Kennedy staring back at you. 

Fifty years. Not such a terribly long time, I suppose. Wonder if they’d still name any of this stuff after him today. 

a broken church in Hamburg

Always travel somewhere in mid October, and this year it’s going to be Hamburg again. In case you don’t know this already, Hamburg is my favourite Germany city. I love my adopted home, and Berlin has a fantastic bustling energy that makes me feel more creative.


But Hamburg? It’s is a dream. An unfulfilled one, but a dream nonetheless. One day I’ll live there. I just know it. Who cares where you live, right? It’s all the same damned thing.


Well, I’m not going to give into that sort of fatalism. Not me, baby.


There’s a church in Berlin that was bombed during WWII, and they left it as it was as a symbol to remind everyone of the horrors of war. That church is world famous, because it’s on Berlin’s Ku’damm, which was the Flaneur Mile of West Berlin during the Cold War, and you see it on the way to your upscale shops and such.


The one in Hamburg? Well, I suppose if you’re a local you know of it. Not like it’s hidden or anything. It’s right there in the middle of town, but the tourists are flocking to the harbour or the World’s Largest Model Train (Miniatur Wunderland). Who has time to go look at a broken church? Well, I do and I will.


More on this in October.

Broken Church in Hamburg

We’re going to the zoo

Knut the polar bear cub

Do you remember Knut? This was not simply a German phenomenon. He became news around the world. Born in late 2006, Knut brought record numbers of visitors flocking to an already popular zoo. The story was compelling, because he was rejected by his mother and raised primarily by his handler Thomas Dörflein, who sadly died unexpectedly in 2008. Oh, and because he was an adorable little polar bear.

The Zoologischer Garten is located in the Tierpark neighbourhood of what was formerly West Berlin, and you might recognise the nearby S-Bahn Station (Zoo Station) from the title of a U2 song on Achtung Baby. It might be a bit confusing with the name Tierpark if you go to reunified Berlin today, because it’s not only where the Zoologischer Garten is, but the name of the still vibrant Tierpark in former East Berlin. I haven’t been there yet, but I’m certainly curious and willing to visit.

Back to the matter at hand. If you want to know interesting data about this zoo, a good start is the Wikipedia page here. It’s truly a remarkable place. Let me just say that I’m normally pretty hesitant to even go to zoos. They feel like animal prisons to me. I know zoologists are some of the most committed animal lovers, and I respect that they do more for animal conservation than I ever will. Nevertheless, there’s always a pang of regret when I set foot in a zoo. Enough of that…let’s get on to the animals.

Walked by the enclosure where Knut used to live (he sadly collapsed last year and shockingly died). Though there were two grown polar bears sunning themselves on a rock, it seemed somehow empty without little Knut. Please don’t tell those remaining polar bears I said so.

Oh, and I’ve included both a You Tube video I made of the the, as yet, unheralded Moon Jellyfish and the obligatory shot of your sometimes humble blogger. Enjoy…

polar bears taking in a bit of sun
turtles and an crocodile
this school of fish were just going round and round
nothing wrong with a lonely hippo
a tiger doesn't belong behind bars
three slinky slithering snakes curled up with one another
a colourful fish...what more can I say?
two Bald Eagles looking very patriotic despite that they're both Germans
a couple of lions that appear to really like each other
Who says a turtle doesn't have personality? Not me.
This young Russian boy didn't seem at all surprised to be attacked by this agitated bird.
Did someone request penguins?
these curious pigeons had feathers on their talons
little girl has close encounter
and an entire other sort of penguin