My gift is my blog post, and this one’s for you…
Friday was the end of our 5 day stay in Berlin. We were actually planning to travel to Stuttgart that day, but one of us accidentally bought our tickets for the 2nd instead. One of us – I won’t name names, but out of the two of us, it wasn’t me. ;)
That worked out really well, though, because it turns out there is a lot to see in Berlin. On the first day it took a while to figure out how to get to from the bus center to a station with luggage storage where we could leave our luggage while touristing (I guess tourists just tour though, not tourist). By the time we’d figured that out and had some lunch, it was almost 3pm. We took the UBahn (underground train) into the middle of the city and meandered for a while, past some Berlin sights that are apparently famous, like some tall structure that looks like a stick spearing a round marshmallow – and I assume in the spirit of the Space Needle the marshmallow holds a restaurant with expensive food – a church, a fountain, and “The Brandenberger Tor,” a large Roman style entry gate. We also went to the Humboldt University, which had a memorial to the books the Nazis confiscated from the school’s libraries and destroyed. In the courtyard that they burned them, there is a clear pane where you can look down and see white bookcases with empty shelves.
We also went to the Berlin Dome, a huge Protestant church. It looked really beautiful inside but cost about €7 to enter. Evening prayer, during which you can enter for free, was in an hour, so Olivia and I went to a nearby ice cream place and waited. Seriously, folks, it’s about one euro for a scoop of homemade ice cream, and you can find these places everywhere. It makes a great small and cheap treat during a long day on your feet.
The Berlin Dome was amazingly huge and ornate, of course. Gilded gold, statues of the 4 Gospel writers, paintings with calm people in graceful poses. I always wonder what people were thinking when they built churches like these, and as they worked on the inside making every detail so elaborate. Did they do it… cause they thought it was a church God would want? Because that was what the king ordered? Out of reverence? Or because the city’s Catholic church was also ornate and they had to match or surpass it? It sure seems like a lot of work to me, and I am always in awe of what humans can accomplish.
We spent the rest of the day in a park, where we read a book aloud while the sun set. Once the air grew cold and it began to get dark, we got back to our feet and retrieved our luggage and found our way to the apartment of a friend of Olivia’s friend who graciously hosted us.
Tuesday we bought a museum pass and set about putting it to good use. Berlin has a huge wealth of museums on a plethora of subjects, enough to keep anyone busy for weeks. We bought the 3 day museum pass for 24 euros, which is a killer deal because to visit one museum is about half that price. We went to a history museum with artifacts from Macedonia, Rome, Turkey, etc, then to an art museum. Both had three floors, and we saw everything. The outside world got a good dump of rain while we were safe inside.
All of the museums close at six, so we headed home then, with a stop at the store for some mozzarella and bread, which we turned into delish grilled sandwiches and enjoyed while watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
The next day we went to another two museums, both historical. At the end my eyes and mind were tired from taking in so much, but it was good. Everyone should visit museums at least once a year. It sounds cliche, but it is mind-broadening. At the history museums you learn more, and for a while your mind is stretched to think outside of the now as you remember all the people and cultures that have come before – the people we only have dusty pots and dead languages to remember, but who were also once breathing, laughing, dreaming people that joked and cried and loved. They lived completely different yet completely similiar lives to us.
And in art museums, in a short amount of time your mind travels through such a variety of places and moments and emotions. With a just a few short steps and a turn of the head, you move from taking in an ancient battle scene to a grecian couple in love to a portrait to a cliffside castle. Every scene speaking a different feeling, sparking different memories and thoughts in your mind, with more to be found the longer you look. Is there anything else that can give you so much, in such a short amount of time?
Outside the museums there is always at least one street performer, usually a student or group of students practicing their instruments or singing. Berlin has an alive, youthful feel thanks to its colleges. I also felt like it had an undertone of… turmoil and “Po-Mo” (Postmodernism), probably due to what Germany, especially Berlin, has been through in the last half century. The Wall went down only 25 years ago, after all.
Speaking of which, we also visited the East Side Gallery that night, which is a section of the Berlin Wall still standing, every inch covered with art and signatures despite the signs asking you not to deface it..? Some art was neat and/or thought provoking, others were just… weird.
Thursday we took a day trip to Potsdam, which has a whole mess o’ palaces surrounded by large gardens, most housed in Park Sansoussci. We had time to walk through the park, see an art gallery, and take the audio tour of the palace King Frederick the 2nd lived in. We had to put large slippers on over our shoes and slid from room to room past silk wallpapers and rococo decorations and porcelain figurines, which apparently the king had a thing for. It was all incredibly ornate and detailed. Fit for a… ahh ha ha.
We walked past a few other palaces- my favorite was the Orangerie, which was in a “simpler” style. It had a sculpture every 5 feet, like every structure here seems to have, but these were of common folk – farmers, harvesters, maidens – a nice break from the Roman/Grecian gods. Seriously, I have never seen so many sculptures in my life as in those three days. If I’d been born back then, my calculating dad would have been encouraging me not to become a scientist, dentist, doctor, or computer programmer, but a sculpter, because there’d be plenty of job security.
Whew, this blog post is getting long. Still with me? Here’s a cute picture then on to Friday:
Friday we took the train to Wittenberg, as in Luther. The door. Well not the door, since it’s been 500 years and there was a fire in the 1600s. But a king (love how I remember all the history specifics?) in the 1800s comissioned another, bronze door inscribed with the 95 thesises for the church, which is the door everyone takes pictures of nowadays. It is fenced off – the whole church is undergoing restoration – but you can see it.
We also saw the outside of the old monastery Luther had attended and later lived at with his family, then we had some lunch and took a nap in a grassy park before taking the train back to Berlin. On Thursday we’d moved to a hostel closer to the bus station – Thursday night I had a fun time running the whole way to the hostel from the metro station while Olivia waited at the station with our luggage, because it was the time we were supposed to check in and I didn’t want to be locked out, paying for beds we weren’t sleeping in! Praise God, we got in and got our beds and showers. God has been so faithful on our trip, even though we’re silly young people and really don’t deserve His grace.
Friday night we tracked down a highly-rated Ethiopian restaurant in the city and I introduced Olivia to the amazingness of this unappreciated cusine. We also tried some mango beer, which was surprisingly very tasty (maybe because the beer taste wasn’t that strong?). At the end of our meal the woman taking care of us surprised us with glasses of honey wine and a gift of a Ethiopian-colored bracelet and necklace for me. Because yeah, it was my birthday. :)
But while I had a great time that day – any day the last two months could have been my birthday. I’ve had great food, new experiences, and fun times with friends every day. Yesterday was just another day chock full of God’s blessings. :)
Like this morning! Our alarm did not go off, so we woke up 20 minutes before our bus left, and got to the station 15 minutes after it’d left. But we were able to get right on the next bus, and are now safely flying down the roads to Stuttgart.
But… in our hurry I FORGOT THE ETHIOPIAN LEFTOVERS!!! A huge round container that seriously weighed several pounds, full of all the sauces, and 2 more injeras the woman had packaged up for us. SITTING THERE, in the hostel fridge, a treasure just waiting to be tossed out in a few days. :( My sorrow is very deep.
*Sigh* An end for this post, Sarah?
Try to focus instead on the people you get to meet, the cheap ice cream cones, the free nights of lodging, the fact the trip to Wittenberg was fortunately not 90 euros, that you were not locked out of the hostel, and that we can ride to Stuttgart even though we missed our bus…and yeah, and that you’re spending the SUMMER in EUROPE, not that you left Ethiopian food in a Berlin hostel fridge, now cities away.
… maybe tomorrow. :(