Monday, June 11, 2007

Berlin

After a 10-hour train ride from Salzburg to Berlin via Munich, Justin and I found our way to St. Christopher's hostel, conveniently located right off one of the U-Bahn (subway) stations. There, we met up with another college friend, had some dinner and chilled out at the bar of what turned out to be a great hostel. (I haven't found its equal yet: the atmosphere was great, the beds were comfortable, and the room we stayed in was spacious and clean.)

We started our first full day at the oldest icon of the city, the Brandenburg Gate (which has about 150 years on the wall). We also walked around the glass dome of the Reichstag and visted the nearby Holocaust Memorial, neither of which I visited in my previous month-long stay in Berlin.

We meandered along to Postdamer Platz, where I had a "sauerkraut platter" (it had much more meat than sauerkraut), and proceeded along to Checkpoint Charlie and the corresponding museum. That night, after nice nap at the hostel, we went back out for more sightseeing, this time in west Berlin. We managed to find the Beate Uhse Erotic Museum, then walked along Kurfürstendamm to take artsy pictures of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche at night. (It was heavily bombed in 1943, and was left as it stood as a memorial to war victims. Here's how it looked until 1943.)

The next day, we visited the Story of Berlin museum, which included a look at the city since its inception (very interesting, since most people tend to forget everything before the wall, or at most, everything before the Nazis. Napoleon marched through the Brandenburg Gate at the turn of the 19th century!) We made a quick stop at the Museum für Fotographie, where a Helmut Newton collection of late 80's-styled nude models made me cringe about my own body. But, hey. I'm not expecting anyone to take pictures of me in the nude, posing with horses and in heels.

I ran off to the Deutsche Oper Berlin shortly thereafter to see a production of Puccini's Il Trittico. The Deutsche Oper Berlin is known for its avant-garde productions, and this one was no exception. Unforunately, these pictures on their site don't do the production justice, but suffice it to say that there was sadism, adultery and drug use. Awesome. I also picked up a book on how to be an opera singer -- written in german.

Our third and final day was a day trip to Potsdam (~30 min S-Bahn), which was, among other things, the summer residence of Berlin's one-time king. We saw the Palace Sanssouci, which was small but opulent, and ate at Der Butt, which is apparently german for halibut. We rounded out the night by coming back to Berlin and joining a bar crawl, which ended around 3 am, giving us just enough time to sleep and sober up before waking at 5 to catch an early flight to Amsterdam.

Tschüß, Berlin!

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