I took the train up to Berlin on the 25th to stay with Janine’s family. My train was cancelled, which made things exciting, and I finally got in around 11pm, and between the cold and the long day, I was pretty happy to hear Janine’s mom had some delicious duck leftovers ready for me. Nom nom!
Sunday afternoon we went into town and visited the DDR Museum (about life in East Germany). It was a pretty good museum, taking the attitude that learning is done through your hands, so there were lots of interactive bits. I think they took it a little far, since most pieces of information were hidden behind doors or in drawers, each of which had to be opened to be read, which got a bit tedious, but otherwise it was quite good. The commentary from Janine’s family and Micha added to it, since they had memories of living behind the wall themselves.
We wandered around and tried to decide what to do next. Admission to the Berlin Cathedral was too expensive for our tastes, despite the magnificence of what we could see.
Janine’s brother needed to go home and get ready for his departure after dinner, and her mom went with him. Janine and Micha and I were at a loss as to what to do next and eventually decided to take advantage of the pretty evening light for photos. We saw some important bits and had some coffee and then, because our toes were freezing off, we decided to head home.
The next day the weather was yuckier, and still cold, and by the time we got to the Fernsehturm (Berlin’s tall sightseeing tower) it was starting to snow. Although the name refers to their word for TV, it literally means “far-seeing tower,” which turned out to be kind of a misnomer – by the time we reached the top, there was so much snow in the air it was hard to see more than a few blocks from the base of the building.
When we finished perusing the signs explaining what we should have been able to see in each direction, we headed back down and had Subway for lunch. Janine’s mom was very doubtful about the size of her sandwich, and frequently expressed her amazement at how big American mouths must be in order to eat these things. I think Germans just don’t know how to make good sandwiches, no matter how good their bread is. :( German Subways evidently do not offer my required meal of a hot meatball sub, which I found really disappointing on such a cold day.
It turned out that it was Monday, so the museums were closed, and we headed home for more warm tasty food and apple tea.
The last day, we went to the Neue Nationalgalerie to see some 20th century art. I’m not really a big fan of post-Romanticism stuff in general (ask me how much I dislike Dada pieces!), but some of the stuff there was cool. They had a big exhibit of German Weimar Period art, and since I haven’t really studied 20th century stuff or seen less-than-famous examples of it, it was an educational trip. I ended up buying a poster of “Die Toteninsel,” which looks sooo much like Myst, I have no option but to love it. ^_^ Since it’s not 20th century, I’m not sure why it was in the museum shop, but I’m not objecting.
Janine had a meeting with a guy who wanted some illustrations done, so Micha and I went on to see Schloss Charlottenburg. Evidently Germans used to have way too much money, because this was a palace built for the prince’s wife. The prince (and each of his brothers, not to mention all the other princes in German-speaking palatinates) had his own palace elsewhere – this one was specifically for her. We got German audio guides and had an educational hour or two looking through the rooms and hearing about how the queen lived. After that it was getting dark so we headed home in the freeeezing cold.
Wednesday morning, my transportation was again made exciting because my carpool driver simply decided to disappear. She answered neither emails nor phone (her phone mailbox was evidently full) and she never showed up. The other women waiting for the driver said they had tried to contact her too, and had no luck either. We scrambled to find another carpool, and I managed to squeeze into one that was missing a person. The roads were clearer than I expected, and I ended up getting home at pretty much the same time I had expected from the earlier carpool.
Also, the countryside around Berlin, when covered in snow, looks pretty much exactly like something Caspar David Friedrich would paint, which I found pretty exciting. ^^ All in all, a nice holiday trip.