Tag Archives: Berlin

Holocaust Memorial (Berlin) and unintended consequences

The Holocaust Memorial or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was inaugurated in Berlin about 7 years ago close to the Brandenburg Gate.

If you see the following picture from Wikimedia, you get a glimpse of what could be a huge cemetery of concrete slabs.

Holocaust Memorial (by de:Benutzer:Schreibkraft).

The memorial is described in the Wikipedia with the following words:

“It consists of a 19,000 square metres (4.7 acres) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae“, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. […] According to Eisenman’s project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

However, the memorial is not to be contemplated from the air as seen above, but from the ground and people can walk through it.

If you visit the site you’ll experience or watch some unintended consequences:  people tend to sit on the stones, run between them, jump from one to another, play “hide and seek”… the least people do is to experience with light and shadows, distances, slopes…

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Then there is a poor security guard calling on people (sometimes bunches of playful students) to “behave”, not to run, jump, etc.

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Old Berlin key lock system

During our last stay in Berlin we were lodged at a hostel in Fasanenstrasse, close to Kurfürstendamm (Charlottenburg). The pension was in an old building which was protected by some urbanism laws which prevented the owners to perform some works.

Thus, the building maintained a curious key lock system at the front door which was activated by night. The key was double sided as it can be seen in the picture below.

Old Berlin front door key.

In order to open the door you would have to introduce the key in the lock, unlock it and then fully insert the key in the door until it would appear in the interior of the house. You would then have to lock it from the inside and remove the key from the inside by pulling from the other end of the key.

We found it funny and curious, so we recorded this short video showing the system:


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Berlin Tempelhof Airport

Berlin Tempelhof Airport was one of the spots that we wanted to visit in Berlin. The airport was built in the 1920’s and had been an iconic airport for decades, e.g., by the famous Berlin Airlift which with the allied forces supplied West Berlin once surface traffic was blocked by the Soviet Union in 1948.

Other historic events happening in the airport (quoted from Wikipedia):

In 1909, Frenchman Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration in Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright later that same year. Tempelhof was first officially designated as an airport on 8 October 1923. Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded in Tempelhof on 6 January 1926.

[…] described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as “the mother of all airports”.

The airport closed operations in 2008.

The coincidence was that the Berlin marathon fair was organized at Tempelhof thus we didn’t need to schedule the visit since we would go there to pick the running bibs.

See below some pictures from the airport.

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I had some fun with my brother remembering that the airport is also featured in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (when they get into a zeppelin). I tried to find in Youtube some scenes in which the airport could be recognised, but the only scene that I find related to it is when Indiana and his father are already aboard the zeppelin:


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East Side Gallery (Berlin)

A whole decade has passed since the first time that I visited Berlin with my brother. This time again, we dedicated some time to visit some touristic highlights. I will write some posts in relation to that visit.

This first one will be dedicated to the East Side Gallery. From the Wikipedia:


The East Side Gallery is an international memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. […]
The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. […]
It is possibly the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world. […]
The paintings at the East Side Gallery document the time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better and free future for all people of the world. […]

The wall has been damaged by several reasons and gone through subsequent series of restorations.

See below some pictures from the East Side Gallery (status from September 2012):

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Berlin marathon breakfast run

One of the events that include some big marathons is a morning run the previous day, the so-called “breakfast run”.

When we ran the marathon in Paris, only our friend Serna attended that run. This time we went together and Luca and my brother Jaime waited for us at the end.

The run, a very easy run of almost 6 km, departed in front of the beautiful Palace of Charlottenburg and ended at the Olympia Stadion.

This stadium today hosts Hertha Berlin football matches, but it is better known as the stadium where the summer olympic games of 1936 were celebrated: the first ones televised, inaugurated by Adolf Hitler and the ones in which the athlete Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals.

See below some of the pictures we took during that morning run:

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Hopefully the next time we’ll remember to bring either flags or a festive costume as many of the other runners typically do.

See the route we followed from the palace in Charlottenburg to the stadium as recorded by my Germin GPS:

Breakfast run route.

Finally, I found two interesting documents in relation to the stadium and the games:

  • The stadium plan [PDF, 1.7 MB] from today’s stadium website. In it you can see the location of the Maifeld (used for Hitler’s government celebrations and during the olympics for the equestrian events), the Bell Tower, the stadium and the Olympischer Platz.
  • The official report [PDF, 42.4 MB, 640 pages] of the games. It contains all kind of info about the International Olympic Committee at the time, hundreds of pictures of the Games and all of results of the different events.

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Berlin marathon

Last September 30th I completed the Berlin marathon together with my friend Serna and brother Jaime. This was the second marathon we ran together (the previous one being Paris 2012). The sixth one I ran.

Jose, Jaime and I in the runners’ fair.

The morning of the marathon I published a post in which I explained how I arrived at it in terms of training: I suffered an injury about 1.5 months prior to the race which didn’t allow me to practically train during the last month. Previously I had been training well and accumulating many kilometres.

My bib number for the race:

My Berlin Marathon bib number: 14028.

You may see the route of the marathon and my performance as recorded by my Garmin GPS here:

My Berlin Marathon Garmin records.

I started with a bracelet with references for a 3h40′ marathon, 5 minutes lower than in Paris. My plan was to start at that pace (5’13” per km) and keep it until I could. I was expecting that I would not be able to run the whole of it and that I would have to walk in case the Achilles tendon was hurting again. If that happened the later it occurred the better. Thus the faster I could go at the beginning the better for having to walk less distance at the end.

I did the half marathon in slightly above 1h47′, better than in Paris and was still feeling OK. Though at km 23 I started feeling hard to make kilometres under 5’20” (lack of speed endurance work and series in the last month)… I started to think of managing the margin I had built.

Finishing the marathon (km. 42).

However, 5 kilometres later I started to feel the ankle getting harder and some cramps in the quadriceps of the right leg (lack of kilometres and long runs in the last month). I then decided to slow down, otherwise I would have to start walking soon (when you get these cramps, the following step is feeling the muscle like a rock and not being able to run… experience from marathons 1 and 3).

From then on I clocked 6′ per km, then 6’20”, 6’35”, 6’40″… but I was still quite happy as at every kilometre I was making the numbers in my head: “if I keep this pace, I can finish in 3h53′ “, then “3h55′ “… I finally clocked: 3h57’48”, but at all times I knew I could complete it and that I was going to be under 4 hours, thus I just kept on running and smiling.

See the analysis of Garmin records by kilometre below. You can see how the pace was at each stage as I explained it above.

My Berlin Marathon running pace per km (mm:ss).

Two more pictures to complete this post: my finisher diploma and the detailed street map of the route.

Berlin Marathon detailed street map.

Next stop: Maratona di Roma, 17th March 2013.


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Good morning, Berlin!

This morning, as this post is being published I’ll be starting the 39th Berlin marathon, together with my friend Serna and brother Jaime.

At mid-point through the training, beginning of August, I wrote a post about the good amount of kilometres I had been able to train in July. Two weeks later I got injured in the Achilles tendon when training in the hills of Torrelodones. I took a one-week rest and slowly re-started training. That week finished with a 10k race in Colomiers where I achieved a new PR in the distance but got pain in the same tendon again.

I took a 10-day rest and tried to run again: 3.5km, 7km and then 12km… but got the pain back and had to cancel my participation in Toulouse half marathon.

As you can see in the graphic below, the training season can be divided in 3 weeks of getting into the habit, 7 weeks of good training and 6 weeks of struggling to recover, plus few days of running and swimming.

Berlin training season. Kilometres run per week and average heart rate (bpm).

During the season I should have run over 1,000km, but in the end I have only completed 643km. This is more than I could run in preparation for the last marathon in Paris, but this time I arrive to the starting line without having run recently and the bunch of the training was done more than a month ago…

As Jaime says, this time the race will not be about the time, but just about trying to complete it… a day for the epic.

Lastly, I wanted to raise awareness about one thing I love of some races: the support of charities and NGOs. We subscribed to this marathon last year and, when doing so, each of us contributed with 42€ (1 € per km run) to the charities supported by the organization.


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