Berlin: A City of Ample Men

While wandering through Berlin, we came across an oddly placed statue of a green man walking on a lawn. It had us a little puzzled. It looked like the result of a passionate night between a plastic army man and a Monopoly piece.

Later, as we were crossing a street, I noticed a similarity between the statue and the crosswalk light. Was that the same guy? And if it was, did it mean that walking on that particular lawn was always encouraged? Or did one of the little guys escape the light but became frozen in the real world?

Then we stumbled across a store called Ampelmann that was chock full those same green crossing men, plus a whole lotta red “stop” men. Apparently it’s a thing. Who woulda thunk? The name means “little traffic light man,” and it is a relic from East Germany, believe it or not. There’s not much left from East Germany… except for a little traffic light man.

“I survived forty years of Communist rule and all I got was a little traffic light man.” Oh the indignity of being East Germany!

The logos are plastered on everything, from chairs to napkins to soap to underwear. Actually, I don’t recall seeing any underwear, but that would seem like a great thing to sell: two pairs of panties, one with the green guy and one with the red guy. That way a woman’s date finds out pretty quickly whether he’s gonna get lucky depending on which one she decided to wear. There’s no reason to put them on men’s underwear, because, you know, the red one would never get worn.

IMG_9356Regardless of that genius idea, it just goes to prove that just about anything can be a thing. So now I’m thinking of opening a store with nothing but platypuses in them. Statues of platypuses. PlatypusChocolate-shaped platypuses. Sheets and blankets with images of platypuses cavorting around, topped with a pillow-shaped platypus. And of course two pairs of panties, one with a red platypus and one with a green one.

Hey, if Ampelmann can be a thing, so can platypuses. Besides, I kinda like saying “platypus.”

I also like wondering about things like why they call it a pair of panties. Can there ever be just one panty? Which means it would only have one leg? Oh, the mind boggles!

Speaking of mind-boggling, here follows a collection of oddities we noticed during our trip:

BestworschtOkay, is it the best, or the worscht? We had to give them points for their clever name, and as a result this became the first meal we had in Germany. It was the best bestworscht we’d ever had up to that point, but I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing.

EinfahrtThe Germans are so thoughtful that they put farting stations around town. So apparently this is where you fart, and that little device either sucks up the fumes, or gives you a stink-o-rating. I’m not sure which because the numbers on the device were in metric. I tried to convince Carolyn to give it a go, but she was too shy. I wasn’t shy, but alas, I wasn’t gassy either.

IMG_9458 I’m pretty sure this sign on a pharmacy window translates to: “Well, you were my friend, but so long brave wart!”

IMG_9468Again, the Germans are so efficient (as well as hyper aware that if you have “germ” in your country’s name, you need to work extra hard to prevent the spread of more of them) that they even have a place for you to “dak,” which I’m sure is the German word for the sound you make when you sneeze, and then they offer a polite “gesundheit” ahead of time. I tried to take advantage of the offer, but I’m not allergic enough to Christmas trees. I coughed, but nothing happened. Bummer.

IMG_9560Germany also has strict truth-in-advertising laws, so if your Pelchen is crap, well, you’re gonna have to call it krappelchen. This is a river in Dresden, btw.

IMG_9570By the same token, if your shampoo is bad, there’s no hiding behind fancy marketing.

IMG_9736“He’d step over ten naked women to get at a pint.” A sign we got a kick out of in an Irish pub we went to, because of course you always have to go to an Irish pub if you’re visiting Prague, where this was. Never did see the ten naked women though.

IMG_9920As with most big cities, there is graffiti. I’ve always wondered the words mean, and in fact have found it interesting that for the most part, they use pretty much the same lingo, which is just as unintelligible in Europe as it is in the states. Except this one. I guess boobs are universal.

So, having been exposed to the boobs and stepped over ten naked women and invented panties to help people with their sex lives, we decided we better go to church.

Actually, when hundreds of black crows began circling our heads after I announced my plan for the Ampelmann panties, we took that as a sign that we better get into one or two right quick.

IMG_9365This is the Berlin Cathedral (“Berliner Dom”). It was built on a site that had various churches on it since the 1400s. The current building was finished in 1905. It at least gives the Germans something to crow about.

IMG_9371In 1944, an Allied combustible bomb dropped into the dome. The resulting fire could not be extinguished, and so da dome dum-dum-DUM-dummed. In 1975, reconstruction began, restoring it to its former glory.

IMG_9381IMG_9388A climb to the top of the dome reveals some impressive views of Berlin.

IMG_9392A climb to the bottom reveals some rather cryptic things.

IMG_9377They always have fences around tombs because so many people are dying to get in.

Now we’re off to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

IMG_9398The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. (per Wikipedia)

IMG_9400Either this tower is needed to relieve all the gasses from too much bestworscht, or maybe the lack of a huge offgassing tower is what really blew up the dome of the church.

IMG_9403As you can tell from this photo, this particular building goes all the way to the top.

IMG_9405The Memorial Church today is a famous landmark of western Berlin, and is nicknamed by Berliners “der hohle Zahn”, meaning “the hollow tooth”. After all the food we ate, I think we both ended up with hollow teeth ourselves.

IMG_9406I found an unwrapped wife under the Christmas tree, and so decided to take her home. I did almost opt for the blue present instead, but ultimately stuck with the red one. After that comment, she’ll be shopping for the red Ampelmann panties for sure. Ha!

IMG_9448As with many of the Christmas markets, this one was built in and around the grounds of a famous building, in this case the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. But you already knew that because you’re taking notes, right?

Grave subjectWe close this blog entry with a very grave photo.

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