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For his new movie Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Taratino wanted to make a a spaghetti western that would use World War II iconography and star the world's biggest movie star. And this is how one of the biggest movie debuts of the summer was born.
The movie has all of Tarantino's usual trademarks: quick dialogue, cringe-inducing violence and creative casting, but it was filmed on location somewhere new for the Tarantino crew: one of Jaunted's favorite cities, Berlin. To slake your thirst to live it up just like Brad Pitt no doubt did while he was filming, here's our guide to partying like a rock star, or at least partying like a director who thinks he's a rock star, in Berlin:
Passports / Travel News / Souvenirs / Soviet Travel / Liechtenstein / San Marino / Berlin / → All Tags
Is it illegal or is it good, clean fun? The stamping of passports for souvenir value seems as old a tradition as buying those horrific gift spoons, and this rampant passport defamation continues today, except now they're charging for it.
In the picture above, the passport pages bear four fake stamps from the old Allied and Soviet sides of Berlin, stamps which could possibly invalidate the passport. There's even a discussion thread over at Lonely Planet regarding the legality of this tourist stamping, with particular attention to the prevalance of it around Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie. For 2€ each, you have your pick of the stamps, ranging from 4 different US sector versions to 2 Soviet designs, and even a few French thrown in for good measure.
When we were living in Rome, we used to frequent a miniscule, cave-like jazz club named "Alexanderplatz." Knowing that it was named thus because of the historical cabaret district around the Alexanderplatz in Berlin, we suffered from a romanticized idea of the square.
It's been seventy or so years since the cabarets left, fifty-plus years since the Soviet architectural aesthetic converted it into a massive concrete platz anchored by the Fernsehturm (TV tower) and office blocks, and fifteen years since the giant Kaufhof department store emerged as king of the place. And yet, the tourists flood in for more than just access to the transportation hub; the draw being that finally, one is standing in Alexanderplatz.
Aside from the graffiti-covered Friendship fountain, whose proper name is the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft, the biggest attraction is perhaps the straight-up view of the Fernsehturm and the ubiquitousness of cheap wurst vendors in the squareboth are pictured above.
What is with the touristic impulse to ascend every tall, open-to-the-public building in a city? Like New York City's Empire State or London's St. Paul's Cathedral, Berlin boasts of some similarly sky-high sights. The city may be pretty flat, but draws like the Fernsehturm (TV tower), Berliner Dom, and of course the Reichstag keeps the busloads lining up for a glimpse of each landmark from the viewing platform of another.
While the Fernsehturm is the tallest option, the line is longer and the history weightier at the Reichstag, the home of German parliament which burned in 1933 and remained in ruins for decades. When architect Lord Norman Foster's new glass dome crowned the recontruction in 1999, the gawking masses descended on it due to its free and open admission policy.
This is both a blessing and a burden for visitors to the building, as nothing is better than free views of the city and an up-close experience of an architectural triumph, but free means queues long enough to bring about sunstroke.
Dash across the street, in between the double decker tour buses and the school groups more interested in their souvenir purchases than what they are about to see, and you arrive at the Berlin Wall. Rather, you're standing in front of four sections of it, placed just so in Potsdamer Platz where the tourists can best photograph it surrounded by the glass buildings of a modern European capital.
The Berlin Wall, which once divided this city between the allied section and the Soviet quarter for thirty years, remains a huge tourist draw. In fact, it seems as though everyone and their moms can boast of owning a piece of the thing.
Travel Snapshot / Berlin Field Trip / Berlin / Air Berlin / TXL / Airports / Deltalina / → All Tags
We safely arrived early this morning to Berlin's Tegel airport via Delta's non-stop flight 78 from New York-JFK, an experience we'd rather not repeat due to a decrepit terminal, mass confusion at the gate, and the horribly cramped seats of an older plane. And remember that jazz about Delta being tops in terms of tarmac waits? They aren't kidding; we had read through our guidebook before even hitting the skies.
Beyond the terminal's hot pretzel stand and the vending machine stocked with Ritter Sport chocolate and Haribo Gummi-Bären, we spotted this carry-on luggage measuring rack and its image of a perky Air Berlin representative.
Is this frisky-looking lass the German version of Deltalina? Sadly we didn't book the Air Berlin direct from JFK, but next time we just might have to if she promises to help us latch the overhead bins.
Events / New York City / Berlin / Paris / Shanghai / → All Tags
· Paris: It is pretty much a guarantee that at any moment, in some world city, there is a Warhol exhibition taking place. This spring however, the mother of all Warhol shows is taking place beneath the ethereal dome of the Grand Palais. "Andy's Wide World," on display through July, brings together an incredible 140 of his portraits of society figures, actors, and pop royalty like Mick Jagger, Man Ray, Marilyn Monroe (of course) and Giorgio Armani.
Why go this weekend? Simply because this is just about the mid-point of the exhibition, so here's hoping the crowds will be in a lull and you'll have some Warhol gazing space. Check out the press release to read about the drama behind the portrait of designer Yves Saint Laurent.
For some reason, the combination of trains and science just seems right to us, unless it happens to be Amtrak and then we're looking at the science of bunsen burners and mercury thermometers. This summer, however, Germany is out to show the world a thing or two about their scientific advances in the realms of nanotechnology, life sciences and sustainable energy research with a touring train expedition called the "SciencExpress."
Departing from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof on April 24 and heading straight to Frankfurt before chugging along to complete its seven month journey of over 60 German cities, the SciencExpress is 12 cars long, or over 900 feet, of engineering excellence paired with an interior featuring "...fascinating hands-on-experiments and exhibits from numerous German universities, research institutes and corporations." The train, a "Sonderzug," or special-use train, is the star of the current German Science Year’s public outreach program, with the goal of imagining what our lives will be like in 2020.
Sadly, passengers aren't permitted to hop this baby for a tour of the country, but can visit the parked train in stations around good old Deutschland for free. We'd like to think of it as a mobile and way more advanced Cosi, for those familiar with the typically Midwestern science museum. For those of you intent on doing European tours this summer, check out the train's full station schedule, and save some Euros while still learning a thing or two.
[Image: Expedition Zukunft]
Free stuff for travel; we love and have to have it. So it's no wonder that we've fallen head over heels for Adidas' Urban Art Guide to Berlin application for the iPhone. Since Germany seems to be the capital of highway overpass masterpieces and reworked billboards, it's no wonder that Adidas has chosen Berlin for this app which circumvents the usual museums and galleries to highlight street works.
Downloadable for free from iTunes, the Urban Art Guide allows you to traverse a Google map of Berlin, pegged with locations and photos of some of the city's most notable random works, complete with artist, title and date information. Take it a step further by following mini tour programs, such as one which walks you to nine sites around Mitte and stops at El Bocho's "Kamera," a surveillance camera image something like an ode to the British street artist Banksy.
Freshly released on March 20th, we recommend downloading the Guide asap and hightailing it to Berlin before some of the spots are hit with further layers of graffiti or get ripped out and auctioned as cultural ephemera.
Sweden / Berlin / Germany Travel / Museums / → All Tags
We definitely have a few favorite spots to visit around the world, but Swedish woman Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer has really put the attraction back in "tourist attraction." Her surname, of course, means "Berlin Wall" and she's taken this surname because she is, in fact, married to the Berlin Wall.
Confused? So were we. But Mrs. Berliner-Mauer has a condition known as Objectum-Sexuality--which means she's attracted to non-living objects, in her case, walls and fences. She had a small ceremony to marry the Berlin Wall back in 1979, and was fairly devastated when most of it came down ten years later.
Now she runs the Model and Guillotine Museum in Sweden which has models of various constructions, including her husband, the Berlin Wall. Her museum's open every afternoon during the summer season from June to August. Just don't expect to be able to buy any of those tacky chunks of Berlin Wall souvenirs--that's like taking a piece of her husband home.
Celeb Travel / Berlin / Tom Cruise / TomKat / Katie Holmes / → All Tags
The circus has come to town for not-so-newlyweds Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who have been dividing their time between their L.A. home and the Berlin set of Tom's new movie. The show at hand is Robert Redford's film "Lions for Lambs," opening November 9, in which Cruise plays a Republican senator (no, really!) being interrogated by a reporter played by Meryl Streep about an offensive in Afghanistan. (Redford himself co-stars in the film as an inspirational college professor.)
TomKat gamely walked the red carpet and he told reporters how he's looking forward to flying planes and racing cars with pal David Beckham, who recently ended his first season with the L.A. Galaxy.
Hard to believe the couple no one said would make it has already been legally attached for a year. In other news, your grandma wants to know when you're going to move back home and find a nice young man.
· Tom and Katie Better Start Shopping for those Paper Gifts [POPSugar]
· TomKat in the Maldives [Jaunted]
· TomKat's Long Berlin Film Kiss [Jaunted]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
Travel Media / Food / Restaurants / Berlin / New York Times / → All Tags
Chowhound-worthy street food is all the rage in Berlin, and the Times will treat you to a tour. Berlin's imbisse make up a "fast-food scene gone foodie," serving up cheap eats in a casual environment. Not that the food is always so fast: high quality and high demand mean some made-to-order dishes require a wait that's worth it.
Times reporter Gisela Williams likes the W Imbiss, and we sure do love the sound of it. At this "tiki-inspired joint" on the border of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, you can get a nan-bread pizza for 4. Scarf it down, farm fresh toppings included, under the restaurant's logo (basically an inverted McDonald's arch), and be thankful that you can grab such a meal for the price.
You can buy organic cheese and German wine at WKD Lebensmittel, a grocery-restaurant hybrid that serves cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. Elsewhere in cheapoville, you can also get burritos, rice balls, and numerous other delicacies for around 3.50-7. It's just enough money to account for quality while still fitting under the "inexpensive" umbrella. That means that after a typical imbiss meal, you'll have enough dough and energy left to keep enjoying Berlin.
· Street Food With Ambition in Berlin [NYT]