Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Berlin day 6

I'm writing this several days, a major holiday, and thousands of miles later, but day 6 remains fresh in my mind despite the hazy, miserable state I was in thanks to those allergies.

Nadia was out of commission the whole day and stayed in the hotel room, so I lurched out on my own, determined to visit the Museum of Childhood and Youth and the Berliner Dom.

The Museum of Childhood and Youth is located on the top floor of a fairly generic building and consists of a long hallway lined with exhibit-filled cabinets and 5 rooms exploring such childhood themes as toys, clothing, and most of all school. One whole room featured schooling in East Germany, with lots of pictures of Young Pioneers in neckerchiefs looking very much like Boy and Girl Scouts.

I was the only one in the museum, so after giving me time to wander through all the rooms on my own, the kind docent on duty gave me a tutorial on writing with a feather and a steel nib pen, then taught me to play an old fashioned game with a peg top (set in motion with a string on a stick, and then you whip at the top with the string to keep it spinning). She takes school groups through on a regular basis, and spoke in a slow, calm, and enthusiastic voice that was soothing to my fevered brain.

Reluctantly, I plunged back out into the elements. It truly was dismal weather, still cold but without either the snow or the blue sky that had graced the previous days. The sky, a soggy, misty grayish yellow, seemed much too close to the ground. Rather daunted but unwilling to return to the hotel, I set off for the Berliner Dom, snapping this photo of it on the way.

The Berliner Dom was built around 1900 and is a baroque-style cathedral featuring an enormous, elaborately decorated dome. The lovely thing about churches and cathedrals is that they have lots and lots of seating, and so I sat in a pew for a loooooong time, listening to the soporific tones coming through the headset on my audioguide and letting my feet thaw out. The place is absolutely gorgeous, but what I liked best, besides the dozens of coffins in the basement filled with Prussian royalty dating back to the 1600s, was the little coffee shop on the property, where I had an extremely satisfying cheese sandwich and some peppermint tea.

Berlin, like every German city I've been to, has bakeries (and sometimes two or three) on every street, or so it seems. Most are franchises of big chains, and while the pastries are rather disappointing, the bread and rolls are always SO good, and I've never been disappointed by a simple cheese sandwich from even the sketchiest of subway station snack stands. Which is a good thing, because bread, cheese, chocolate, and coffee were pretty much what Nadia and I lived on. How I miss those breakfast rolls spread with jam or Nutella...

It was 4 pm and already dark by the time I left the Dom, so I decided to skip the last thing on my agenda (the Holocaust Memorial) and head back. And that pretty much concludes day 6.

Thursday, December 23 was our travel day back to L.A., and we were so lucky - our two flights were on time and went smoothly. Customs at LAX took 2 hours due to "technical difficulties," but at least we were home!

Since being back, I've finished Catherine Fisher's Sapphique and Katherine Langrish's The Shadow Hunt - more on those soon.

Back to work tomorrow, when I'll hopefully learn who all our former adult librarians/new children's or YA librarians are at LAPL. Lots of training ahead for the Youth Services department! And ALA is coming up, with the first meeting of the 2012 Newbery committee and a great YALSA institute as conference highlights, and I'll be teaching Library Programs and Services for Children at UCLA's library school this quarter, starting Jan. 3.

I'm convinced that 2011 can't be as bad as 2010 was - but it's showing every sign of being just as busy.

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