Our second leg of the trip landed us in Berlin, a city of grand scale with a, shall I say, complicated past. We arrived on a Friday and tried to get the lay of the land. Boy! This is a sprawling metropolis! Our hotel was in the Mitte (middle), accessible to the whole city by mass transit or on foot. Inspiration is easy to find in beautiful Amsterdam. Inspiration in Berlin was more illusive. The graffiti art was inspiring. Reflecting on the many monuments to Nazism or the Cold War was also inspiring, but, obviously, in a very different way.
Seeing the Sights
Our first walk in Berlin found us at the Brandenburg Gate.
Dinner at the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Tim Raue. We got a kick out of this painting. When the bill came it would be the most expensive meal we've ever had. Ever.
The GDR-built Fernsehturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz.
There is incredible street art everywhere you look.
A good customer of ours, upon my telling her that we were off to Berlin, recommended that we only do one day of the, as she put it, "sad stuff". Walking around the city you inevitably come across some relic of Germany's darker days. The monuments and museums all touched on the history of Nazi Germany and the cold war with much sensitivity and gravitas. We were very moved. Humanity is capable of such horrors. But we are also capable of such beauty, as the structures and exhibits of the various museums and monuments reveal.
Every couple of blocks there was history. Remnants of the Berlin wall are all over the city. This is a picture of a long stretch that was preserved along Niederkirchnerstrasse (formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse). This area is now called "Topography of Terror" and is located on the site on which the most important institutions of the Nazi apparatus of terror and persecution were located between 1933 and 1945: the headquarters of the Nazi SS and Gestapo. The buildings that were partially destroyed were all demolished. It is now the sight of a museum and memorial. The main display of the free memorial is a timeline of events starting before Hitler's rise to power and ending with the cold war. While reading the story we learned the term asocial.
The Jewish Museum was another place where we contemplated humanity at it's worst and best. The design of the building is a masterpiece by Daniel Libeskind. The story of the Jews of Ashkenaz (950 - 1500 CE), a flourishing community that would go through a huge transformation that would eventually lead to their persecution by the Nazis, was beautifully displayed in the permanent exhibit. This picture is from the Memory Void. It is an installation called Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves) by Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman. The floor is covered with these wrought iron plates in the shape of crying faces. Each one measures from 4" to 10". There are hundreds of them and as you walk over them they make a cold, clanking metal sound that is so eerie.
On the Lighter Side
Reconnecting with my dear friend and former dance partner, Gayle Tufts, helped lift our spirits. We cooked dinner together at her Berlin flat.
This display in the Bikini Mall caught my eye.
We had a nice lunch at Monkey Bar (upstairs from Hotel Bikini and the mall). This rooftop bar offers good food and drinks with a nice view of the city.
Home, Sweet Home
Our last day in Berlin we were having lunch at Monkey Bar when we learned that our return flight was canceled. We got back a day late and had to go directly to a design client's house to help with an installation. It made for a bit of a rough re-entry, but we're so glad to be back home! Next week we'll share the latest on our home renovations. Thanks for checking in!
One last thing: the butter was so good. Really. No, really, really good...