Monday, December 20, 2010

Berlin day 4

I'm sprinkling this post with Scenes of Bitter Cold - you'll find both the view from our 5th floor room and from the bridge crossing the Spree River at Warschauer St (note the ice chunks). Brr...
Nadia and I marched forth regardless, and finally visited the East Side Gallery, a stretch of Wall painted in 1990 (a year after its fall) by over 100 international artists. It's only a block from our hotel, so we can visit it again. Again - the bizarre happiness of seeing murals painted on the EAST side of the Wall!

We spent an eclectic afternoon eating visiting a secondhand store with a better selection of shoes than I have ever seen at a thrift store, browsing through the Museum of Things (which consisted of exhibits of everyday objects from Germany of 1900 on, arranged by various themes), and eating veggie burgers. At this point, Nadia was ready for her book and quiet hotel room, so I brought her back and then set off on my own.

After much brisk walking through the cold and dark down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburger Tor (meh - maybe this would have thrilled me more if it had been 40 or 50 degrees warmer), I headed over to the Jewish Museum of Berlin. The fabulous thing about this museum, besides its zig-zaggy architecture, is the way it focuses on more than a thousand years of Jewish life in Germany, and not just on the decades of horror in this century, and while it doesn't gloss over the persecution that has always existed, it gives a full and vibrant view of Jewish life. My only quibble is that it was very hushed - more color and most particularly lots of music would give the place more life and make it not quite so elegiac. After all, Jewish culture still exists all around the world, and even in Germany (one exhibit briefly presents Jews who chose to live in Germany after WWII, or who are living there today).

Books finished:
Matched by Allie Condie
How perfect to be in the former East Germany reading a book about a future in which the State (called the Society) controls all aspects of human existence, and quells all signs of disobedience or independence. The Stasi would have really appreciated having a red pill they could make folks take when necessary. There are similarities to Lois Lowry's The Giver, but I loved this romance about a teenage girl named Cassia who decides that she will not "go gentle" into the constricted future her Society has fashioned for her. It's a compelling, fast-moving novel that doesn't have to have a sequel to be satisfying and thought-provoking - but luckily there will be one.


  1. Inquiring minds want to know: did you or Nadia buy any of those fabulous second-hand shoes?

  2. Just to say I'm enjoying these posts. My mother and her family were all from Berlin. I went there first with her in 1965 which was, as you can imagine, very strange. (My father's family is from Frankfurt and he became a specialist in German politics so we lived in Germany off and on. We were there that year, mostly in Bonn.) I went again just after the Wall went down and the first thing I wanted to do was walk through the Brandenburger Tor. And then I went again a few years ago. Amazing to see the transformation every few years. Have you had a curry wurst yet?

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip with those of us stuck here in LA, where, while it's not as cold as in Berlin, it hasn't stopped raining for days--I've lived here almost all my life and can't remember so much rain at once! And it's not supposed to stop until Thursday. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  4. I'm so glad it's not raining in Berlin - cold is bad but wet is worse! Hopefully LA will dry out by the weekend.
    No curry wurst, unless there's a vegetarian version you have some recommendations for must-see places? Berlin in 1965, just 3 years after the wall went up - wow, that must have been strange!
    Nadia did get a pair of shoes, but I was too cold to take my boots off.

  5. Have you been to Postdam? Sanssouci is very cool (but maybe not so pleasant in this cold weather).

    I suppose there must be a veggie curry wurst, but I can't see the point. Curry wurst are in the same vein as those big turkey legs at fairs or corn dogs -- not exactly haute cuisine!

    My dad was there when the wall went up and took a film camera and got shot at! My sister as the film still I think.