From the future Quartier Charlottenbogen it takes only 14 minutes to the central station or 11 minutes to the zoo. A test drive past exciting Berlin places, with a typical Berlin bus driver as chauffeur and an old lady who has not forgotten how to flirt.
Central station, bus stop, line 245, direct connection Alexanderplatz – central station – Zoologischer Garten, 11.37 a.m.
The bus driver wants to leave. He has grey hair and a big belly. Actually he looks comfortable, but today he is in a hurry, because the bus is already three minutes late. He sees an older lady approaching. She is not fast. Step by step she struggles towards the bus. He sighs, opens the door again and waves her in. “Because it is you,” he says. “Now quickly sit down and walk through the middle.” The lady exuberantly thanks him, but he waves her off. Berlin bus drivers are not known for their friendliness. Rather for their quick-wittedness and for keeping calm even in the most stressful moments.
The new Quartier Charlottenbogen is not only located on the Spree, not only in the middle of Berlin, but also exactly between the central station and the zoological garden. Those who are not travelling by car or bicycle can also take the bus. Depending on the time of day, the bus takes between ten and 15 minutes for the eleven stops between the main station and the Franklinstraße stop and between nine and 14 minutes further to the zoo. We take a test drive, once from the main station to the Charlottenbogen for only 2.80 Euro.
It’s the typical Berlin cit center mix that meets on the bus this autumn lunchtime. Tourists with wheeled suitcases on the way to the next hotel. Students who want to go home from school. Students on their way to the Technical University. People still driving to work. Others are on their way to the doctor. Many are talking, as a listener you can wander from one scrap of conversation to another. It is about the best dentists in the area. The things you still want to look at today. And how stupid this or that teacher is.
11:39. The bus passes the Moabit Correctional Facility. It is an old building, opened in 1881. Since then, men have been imprisoned here awaiting trial, i.e. in custody pending trial. On the other side of the prison complex is the venerable court building, the Moabit Criminal Court. An underground passage connects both buildings, so the men can be brought directly from their cells to their trial. At present, just over 900 inmates are here – behind thick walls and barbed wire fences. But apart from the occasional inmate transports that drive along the streets, the average person does not notice anything of this. On the one hand. On the other hand, anyone who is interested can visit a court case and see how what you normally only see in a crime novel proceeds in real life.
11:44. U-Bahn station Turmstraße. It is getting hectic now. Here you can change to subway line 9 or other bus lines. Some people run off, not wanting to miss the connecting bus. Others are already pushing themselves to the door. “I’m going to stand here until you all behave,” shouts the bus driver. For which he gets a small applause. That is the way it works in Berlin.
And here comes the Heilandskirche with its 87-meter-high tower. Outside the church there is always a small, cozy eco-market on Wednesdays. Fish, salami, bread, olive oil, cheese – all organic and directly from the producer. In addition, there is good coffee and, on this Wednesday, even music. Three older gentlemen play: guitar, saxophone and double bass. A few children dance to it with their teachers.
11:49. The bus leaves the Moabit district via the Gotzkowsky Bridge and goes to the farthest tip of Charlottenburg. From the bridge you can already see the cranes of the construction site Charlottenbogen.
11:51. Franklinstraße stop. From here it is only a few meters to the new Quartier Charlottenbogen. The old lady from the main station also gets off. She has an appointment, she tells the bus driver, who says goodbye with a nod. “With a good old friend. We want to go to the delicious Italian restaurant. We have been meeting there for years. You can take a break and come with us if you like,” she says boldly, turns around and slowly walks away.