Goodbye Berlin

Good morning!
It is a cloudy morning at 9:37am Berlin time, and we have left Berlin behind and are on our way to Prague! I am writing this from our train, sitting in a reserved seat with the constant fear that somebody with seat number 95 will come, showing me their ticket and forcing me to awkwardly collect my belongings in search of another seat. Nowhere on our online ticket does it say anything about a seat number, so we grabbed the first few seats we saw.  Curiously there were hoards of other people in the aisles of the train for the first 30 minutes of the ride, looking around in confusion trying to figure out where they are allowed to sit, since all of the seats have numbers on them. Oh well. Until somebody comes and makes us move, we will stay seated. (The extra hilarious piece is that we cannot split up and find single seats in case somebody does claim our seats, because Earnestine bought our tickets and only her ID is valid with our tickets.  If ousted from our current seats, we will have to be a wandering tripod of confusion.)
Yesterday was our last full day in Berlin, and although we tried to jam pack it full of activities, luck seemed to have not been completely on our side.  We went to the Pergamon Museum first, but the Welcome Passes we bought seem to have been the wrong ones, denying us the free entry with no line that we were expecting. Afterwards, we tried our hardest to get to the Berlin Wall Memorial, and after getting somewhat fishy directions from one of the cashiers at Fat Tire (the bike tour company we had our tour with), we ended up wandering around Ostbanhof in confusion, until a very sweet German man who did not speak a word of English explained to us in German how to get to the East Side Gallery, which we were very close to apparently. So we flexed our plans and headed over there instead, from where the day went on in a breeze.

But first, some pictures from the Pergamon! First off, the Pergamon Museum is on something called Museum Island:
Museum Island is the island in the middle. (Thank you Google images!)
This is very cool, because all the museums are basically on one block surrounded by water and bridges. It was really quite beautiful, if not for all of the construction (construction is ever-present in Berlin this summer!). Never-the-less, I expected the Pergamon to be this giant of a museum (like the Louvre or the Met in NYC). Little did we know this museum was really quite small, and we went through its entirety in around 2.5 hours. It had three sections, the antiquity collection, the Middle East section, and the Islamic art section. For what it lacked in the size of the museum itself, it made up in the size of its exhibits, which were HUGE!
The Pergamon Altar (2nd century BC), decorated with a frieze depicting a battle between the Olympian Gods and giants.

 

Grace and I on the Pergamon Altar.

 

Market Gate of Miletus, 2nd century AD.

 

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon,  575 BC.

 

And of course me in front of it. :)

 

The Mshatta Facade, 8th century AD.

After the Pergamon, we stopped to have lunch at this cocktail bar, which was nice, except for the sounds and smells of the construction happening across the street.

 

My “Coco Loco!”

Then we trekked back to Alexanderplatz in efforts to get to the Berlin Wall Memorial, only to find ourselves at the East Side Gallery which was beyond cool:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took our time ambling down the East Side Gallery and snapping photos of its murals, after which we walked on a little farther in exploration of the city. We found a photoautomat, which is basically a high quality, super hipster photobooth that takes 5 minutes to print out its pictures. I should have taken a picture of the super sketchy one we chose to take pictures in, but alas, you will have to use your imagination.  We took two strips of pictures (making 8 pictures), which I will scan and share once we get home.

Then we headed back to our apartment, where I tried to dull a pounding headache with a good dose of ibuprophen, followed by a search for Spaghettieis:
:
Spaghettieis!!!!

 

YES. This was I think the most fun dessert I have seen in a while. A little mountain of whipped cream, covered by vanilla ice-cream pressed through a spaghetti maker, drizzled with raspberry syrup and topped with crumbled white chocolate.

After having Berlin’s cutest dessert, Grace and I wandered the streets a little bit in the area around our apartment, and found some pretty cool graffiti and street art in the section of Berlin known as “Friedrichshain” (I think!):
Sundial near the roof of a house!

 

Smiling oranges. :) :) :)

 

 

 

We headed back to sleep after a day full of walking, and woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning to pack, and (for good measure) take some pictures of the apartment we stayed at. I have to say I recommend airbnb.com to everybody travelling anywhere who wants some privacy at a not too expensive price!

And then it was goodbye Berlin!

I have to say Berlin was an interesting city. Like any city, it had its sections, each of which had a different vibe and culture to it.  We didn’t stay long enough to really get a feel for them, or to really figure out all the different sections, but it seems to be a young, funky city with a sad past but a much brighter future.
One thing I was surprised about was that I did not expect the immigrant influence to be so strong (there was a Doner Kebab place on every corner, making everything smell delicious unless you were standing over a sewer drain). Another thing I did not expect was the construction, of which there is plenty. I can only imagine what the city will look like when it is done.
Finally, our Fat Tire Bike tour guide Derek was wearing a shirt that said “Berlin: Poor but Sexy,” and I think that says something about Berlin. It’s a vibrant, politically charged place, with interesting messages (many of which went over my not-very-political-head), and absolutely delicious food and beer.
Anyway – we are now off to Prague! And as of right now it is 10:36am and we have not been kicked out of our seats yet! Three hours to go! (And the sun came out! :) )

 

Agata
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