Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 72: Olympiastadion und Grunewald

Our last Saturday in Berlin. Let that sink in.


We have another weekend, but we'll be in Kollweiler visiting friends. So, when we bought all those yummy dips at the farmers market... that was our last Saturday Market (the one we go to is also held on Thursdays... but we have never gone on a Thursday). So, no more farmers market (uh, unless we go on Thursday).

After a brunch of pancakes (real pancakes because I now have baking powder, thanks mom!), we head to the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium).

Olympiastadion station sign (with Jesse Owens Alee on there!)

Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics. Hitler was in attendance (he tried to have Jewish participants barred from participation, but was foiled by threats of boycotts from other countries and sentiments of sports should be "free of politics"). Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals (but did you know a German competitor, Luz Long, offered him advice on his long jump starting point after Owens almost missed qualifying?) And it was the first Olympics to be televised. Fun facts!

Getting to the main stadium and other arenas, you must pass through a park, which is beautiful with all the dropping leaves.

We hadn't planned on entering the facilities, instead, just walking around. But, last minute, when in the presence of the arena, we decided that we must go in.

Side note: The entrance fee, like so many places in Berlin, isn't too expensive, and there is a family rate. Last night's Leica exhibit was the same. When children accompany adults, they get in for free. So, we only pay for Chris and myself. Pretty awesome system. I figure it would only encourage more families to try out museums if you didn't have to pay an exorbitant fee for your kids knowing they are going to be bored within minutes.

Extra side note: If you are a "museum" person, there is a Berliner Museum pass which is pretty cool. I suppose other cities may do this, but it's only €30 per person and you get into over 50 museums within a 72 period. Pretty cool if you like to spend a lot of time in lots of museums!

THREE Buddy Bears and a "Tweet your picture!" frame!

This stadium was built to hold 100,000 people. The roof with the glass is new (built in the 70s, I think). And as I contemplated Jesse Owens' spirit running around the track, with all those seats available... he sat right in front of me! And if you look really close, in the top-right photo, Xander is a super-tiny (oxymoron!) dot in the far distance and Venice is the closer dot.

(Lower right photo by Venice)

Venice stands in the vomitorium (left),
I photograph the other side (middle)
The outer "hallways" (right) 

The seats count inwards from the side aisles. Both sides start with 1, 2, 3... and meet in the middle at 17. Must be confusing to find your seat. Chris thinks one of the 17s is for your hot dogs and beer.

Helene Mayer left Germany in 1933 because her father was Jewish, but she accepted an invitation to compete for Germany in the 1936 Olympics. She earned the Silver medal.

Side note: There were several of these "photo-statues", all of the German-Jewish competitors of the 1936 games. I only took a photo of the fencer (with Paul in mind).  If you follow the link on her name, there is a picture of her at Scripps College... almost Pamona!

Which 17 is mine? (left)
Helene Mayer (middle)
The empty diving pool (right)

We walked around a bit. There was another track. I'm not sure what this is for, as it wasn't marked with any plaque and we didn't get the audio tour. Maybe used for smaller meets now, but then? Maybe warm-ups or preliminary-qualifying heats? Who knows... but as we can walk on the track, we take a lap (ok, half a lap). And Xander sits in... a judging box? He tries to be judgemental.

Chris read that the stadium is built out of limestone. It is beautiful. You can minimise the Nazi Regime into a far distant nightmare... until you see photos of the entire 100,000 spectators giving the Nazi salute. Shivers. Or, until you're looking at the Olympic bell (it has been replaced with a new bell, so this original one is on display), and you see a swastika on the side. Then the glory of the games feel dirtied by the underlying Nazi regime.

The stadium and its original bell (top)
Outer hallway and the swastika on the bell (bottom)

After walking around the grounds and enjoying the immense space and the peace and quiet, we head to the Olympic café (by the way, they only sell bratwurst on game days... but there were several heating right there... so beware, they may be days old by the time YOU get to eat them). We ordered a sandwich and drinks to share.

Chris has been wanting to run in the Spandau or Grunewald forest before leaving. The Olympic Stadium is only a few blocks from Grunewald, so he changes and heads out for a run. You may recall, this is the forest with Teufeslberg (the old spy tower) in it. This is the same forest the kids and I ran through and got soaked to the bone in a lightning storm.

Today is much nicer, almost warm. The sun often peaks out of the clouds. The kids and I finish up our snacks, visit one last sight, and then we head out to the forest as well.

On that rainy day, we could see a "mesa" of sorts, a big hill with a green-flat top. Later, we found out this is called Drachenberg and is a popular spot for picnics and kite flying. Somewhat hard to understand when it just seemed like a soggy-wet mess the last time we were here. But, it's close to the edge, close to the Stadium, and I think it will afford us a view of the fall tree-tops. So, the kids and I head towards the forest, too.

Paths leading to the forest (left and right)
Staircase to the top of Drachenberg (middle)

Do you also remember that rainy day we were last here? How we couldn't find our way? How it was difficult for us to navigate? Well, dang it. There is still a Google-map vortex on this spot. Google said it would take us 30 minutes to get to the top of Drachenberg (which translates into Dragon Mountain, by the way). But it took us 60 (we did take one detour and we didn't power walk, but still!) AND, there were several "dead ends" that we had to navigate. To be fair, I guess Google can't know if a path is closed or not, but it caused us to do a few detours and so, there was a small moment when I thought we wouldn't have time to make it to the top. I was desperate to see the view and was determined to get there even if we only had 1 minute before having to turn back.

Once we rounded the corner onto the main road, I knew we were close. You could see a few kites flying up high, so I knew we were in the right place. We walked through a parking lot and found a set of stairs and climbed up (side note: I'm carrying all of Chris' clothes and shoes, water for the kids, and a few snacks... so I'm walking up all these stairs with extra weight... I just want a high-five for working hard!)

We did find the top of Drachenberg! And so did everyone else! It was super busy and there were tons and tons of kites up in the sky. It was worth it. The view, the kites... it was all beautiful to see (and Teufelsberg makes me think of Tatooine... fans will think I'm crazy and non-fans will have to look up Tatooine).

The kids are sitting in the middle photo in the front. A good place to rest.

After looking around, for what seemed like two minutes, Chris came up to us! He found us! He made it to Drachenberg along his run and said he was waving like a crazy man at us. I guess we didn't see him. He decides to hang out with us and play frisbee with the kids until it's time to leave. So, it was a great afternoon atop the hill.

Top and bottom photos show kites.
Photos in the middle are the kids playing frisbee with Chris.

Teufelsberg (top-left)
Photo on the right shows two "towers". The most visible is "I don't know"
and to the left, farther and harder to see is the Fernsehturm.
The Olympic Stadium can be seen in the bottom-left photo.
The "tower" on the left and the building on the right are on either side
of the big arena. You can see the glass roof if you zoom in.

Silly selfies and holding Teufelsberg in our hands!

Today's walk to the Bahn station is much more leisurely. We had time to show Chris our knowledge of the area (translation: we could walk to the Bahn station without a map) and we were able to look around. Heerstraße is another pretty station.

Venice is helping me by carrying my backpack!

And then we ended our day with super yummy BBQ at Chicago Williams BBQ. Lots of food. Full bellies. Another fantastic day.

P.S. Keep your eye open for the next "signs and such" post, Chicago Williams BBQ gave us lots to giggle at.

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