In April, Justin and I made a little Europe trip for two weeks and visited some friends in Amsterdam and Berlin. In Berlin, Justin got to meet up with a friend from Shanghai who lives in western Germany, and I got to meet up with my friend Talya, who’s now an opera singer with Oper Komische Berlin. Though the weather was quite chilly with lows in the 40s, we had fun roaming around the city and exploring the modern metropolis that’s arisen from its incredibly complicated history. See more of my travelogues below.
House of Small Wonder, with outposts in Brooklyn and Berlin.
Sunday Flea Market at Mauerpark.
Justin and his friend Chaofan. I somehow failed to take a photo from after dinner, where Chaofan introduced us to Berlin-style ping pong! It’s like ping pong meets musical chairs. You’ll just have to look it up. It’s a whole thing.
Me and Talya!
We stayed in an airbnb in Prenzlauer Berg near Mauerpark. Here are some of me neighborhood wanderings. So much cool street art in Berlin!
Art supplies are so much cheaper in Europe! I picked up some goodies like a Hahnemuhle watercolor sketch book.
Loved this book I found in an English language bookstore: “Berlin Sketchbook,” filled with watercolor sketches of the city. I failed to purchase it because I wasn’t sure I could fit it in my luggage though.
Cute, hipster coffee place at the end of our street. Bonanza Coffee Heroes.
The plaza around the beautiful Konzerthaus.
My sketch from the Berlin Cathedral.
We got a backstage tour from Talya of her opera house, one of the three big opera houses in Berlin.
Such a beautiful theater!
So cool! I love peeking behind the scenes. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any performances while we were in town, but at least we got our tour and got to watch part of a rehearsal of Poppea as well!
At sunset, a James Turrell installation in a cemetery. Really.
James Turrell is an American artist who won the MacArthur genius grant back in 1984 and has been building his magnum opus, a crater in the Arizona desert, ever since. His work deals with light and perception. This particular installation in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery is a permanent installation that has been around since 2015. Using light projections and windows, the installation plays with the ambient light at sunset and runs on a program that lasts from sunset to dusk. More info on visiting the installation here.
After our cemetery visit, Chen Che for dinner. Not pictured after this is our visit to a speakeasy called Buck and Breck. Super pretentious but with delicious drinks!
The next morning, currywurst before heading out for our walking tour.
The Brandenburg Gate.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a.k.a. Holocaust memorial. It’s just open on all sides like a public park. You can read some of my reflections with the watercolor sketch below.
Checkpoint Charlie, which is basically a fabricated tourist stop. But during the cold war when Berlin was split into West and East Berlin, there really was a Checkpoint Charlie (as in Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie) that was manned by American troops. The story of how the wall was brought down is actually a really fascinating one. Not to mention the history of Berlin before that, as the seat of Nazi power. If you do visit, I highly recommend the many museums and tours dedicated to the city’s history.
Later, we ventured over to the Turkish Market.
The East Side Gallery, one of the main strips of the remaining Berlin Wall, covered in graffiti murals.
And that was it for our brief visit to Berlin!
Stay tuned for Amsterdam!
Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco but often traveling and working around the world. She creates beautiful, soft, and timeless imagery while capturing the most fleeting of moments. View her work at annawu.com, follow her daily adventures on instagram, or contact her to book your own session today.