Sunday, June 23, 2019
We packed up after breakfast and headed out to the train station where we got our train to Berlin. We were seated in a compartment for six with a newlywed couple on their delayed honeymoon. Unfortunately, we never did figure out how to keep the compartment cool–open the door, shut the door, turn the dial all the way up–but we survived. Once in Berlin we ate a quick lunch and then took an Uber to our apartment near Checkpoint Charlie. It appeared to be the only historic building that survived on that block, but it was a very nice, bright, large apartment with lots of windows to cool it down at night (still in a heatwave). We dropped our bags and then headed out to see the checkpoint, the wall memorial, a guard tower, etc. We also saw the Brandenburg Gate and the city buildings. We were underwhelmed with Berlin to say the least. No charm, spread out, just not that wonderful of a city to vacation in. But at least our apartment was nice!
Monday, June 24, 2019
We went to the local bakery for breakfast and cleaned them out of cinnamon rolls and other good things. Then we went to the Jewish Museum which was predictably under renovation and mostly closed. What they did have was along one hallway, with dimly lit (on purpose) little exhibits with tiny writing that you could only see from one angle. That was fun with all the crowds trying to read what was there, and I really don’t understand the point. They did have one cool room with these metal faces loose all over the ground. I made the mistake of picking them up and got filthy though. Oh well. Then we went to the computer gaming museum which was largely a bust, even for Mark, but then we got to the highlight of the day, the James June Sommergarten, a really large and nice biergarten that even had a sofa bed thing that the girls took over. We stayed there for a couple hours just enjoying the vibe and pretzels and beer and aperol spritz, and then walked back to our apartment through former East Berlin which is actually much nicer than former West Berlin. There were laurel trees here as well so it smelled really good. The soviet giant apartment buildings actually look really nice on the outside and it’s impressive the way they line the grand boulevard.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Today we toured the very uplifting Hitler’s Bunker museum. On the way we passed the remaining facade of the train depot that they shipped many of the jewish people out to the camps on. And the reason it’s only a facade? Hitler blew the tunnels as the allies approached despite knowing that many Berliners were hiding from the bombs there. So they flooded and his people all died. The museum’s tagline is “How could it happen” and I have to say despite spending more than two hours tracing the rise and fall of Hitler I still don’t understand. He didn’t seem that bad early on, how could he turn so evil and convince so many people to follow? And you’re stupid if you don’t see the parallels to what’s happening in the world today. We know so much and yet here we are again, doing it all again. Depressing.
Afterwards we went to the Natural History Museum which had a really cool exhibit on the dinosaurs. You could look through a screen thing and then the dinosaur would get muscles and skin and feathers and then run away. Nice use of technology. That was pretty much all that was at the museum, though, except a lot of stuffed animals. Then we walked to a boba place (pretty good, line not too long) and then to the Prater Biergarten. This one was more crowded and didn’t have as much charm, but there was beer so there was that. And then we walked around that area which was pretty charming and there were lots of restaurants and we finally had ramen.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Still really hot outside. We started out the day at the Stasi Museum which was all about how they surveilled their citizens to keep a lid on dissidents, etc. I know it was supposed to be so diabolical and awful but what China is doing now is so much worse that it kind of loses it’s bite. Then we went to the mall because it was air conditioned. We can say we were absorbing the local culture (because half of Berlin was there) but really we were just hot. And then we went to the Tiergarten which is like Central Park and very pretty, and then we stopped at a nice Italian restaurant on the way back to our apartment.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
This was my big whoops day of the trip. We got up and I was making breakfast and I decided to install the EasyJet app for our flight later that day. Except our flight wasn’t later that day. It was in an hour and a half, I had put the wrong time zone in the calendar. I got everyone up and we got ready and packed and rushed to the airport but no dice, we were too late to get through security with our luggage in time. So we got to buy all new tickets….
Now we had the better part of the day to kill and we were already checked out of our apartment and we had our luggage with us. What to do? Fortunately they have a place to leave luggage at the airport (for a very steep price) and we were close to Charlottenberg palace so we decided to do that. We paid our money and stowed our stuff and got an Uber and went to Charlottenberg which actually really quite fabulous. The palace and grounds are gorgeous, even if the story is sad. There was a prince and they beheaded his friend right in front of him because they were going to run away together. Then they forced the prince to get married but he never consummated the marriage and moved away, and never returned to the palace. So senseless really. The poor bride wondered what she’d done wrong…
We made it back to the airport in plenty of time and made our flight to Copenhagen. We arrived late and the instructions to get into the apartment were a bit cryptic (the key was supposed to be in a lockbox attached to a bike rack but really it was a picnic table) but we made it. The next day I provided him a rewrite of the instructions that would have been much easier for a native English speaker to follow so I hope he uses them moving forward. The apartment was cute, right on the canal, but it was also a bit strange as it was clearly an older person’s apartment and they hadn’t exactly moved out, there were coats in the closet etc. Not sure of the story there. We were too late to eat at any of the restaurants, it was 9:30 but still light, but we just barely squeaked into the grocery store and bought food and libations there.