BERLIN: 29 Oct – 3 Nov 2015 (Part 2)
Museum Island houses 5 museums! But we could only pick 2 since we had limited time and also limited energy in Berlin. It was like a dream come true to be able to walk from museum to museum.
First stop was the Pergamon Museum. One of our must-sees was the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon constructed in 575BC by King Nebuchadnezzar II. This was the inner gate and not the main gate which was much larger. Still, it was a sight to behold.
The only regret was that the entry to the Pergamon Altar was closed as that section was under upgrading.
A model of how the processional way would have looked like leading towards the Ishtar Gates of Babylon.The processional way was also beautifully reconstructed along the sides, but the width would have been much wider. The effect nonetheless imposing to those walking towards the main gate.
Lions and flowers decorated the processional street.
As you walk through the Ishtar gates, you are immediately taken into another world with the Market Gate from Miletus from a Roman town in Asia Minor. This is by far the largest archaeological reconstruction we have seen in any museum.
The Pergamon museum also housed Middle Eastern artifacts with intricate works of art, such as this prayer niche from Turkey, 1242. This was truly geometrical art at its best.
Amazing works of art even as you look up.
Also, an important archive of what we ate haha. Lunch at the Neues Museum, and it was really good!
After a quick refueling of our stomachs, we continued with the Neues Museum for the Egyptian collection, and most importantly, the bust of Queen Nefertiti (photography is not allowed). As the mother of the infamous Tutankhamun, the wife of Akhenaten, and a woman who was believed to have ruled Egypt briefly after her husband’s death, it was quite an honor to come face to face with such a life-like representation of her.
Walking through the Egyptian exhibition, we were determined to make Egypt one of our next destinations in the next few years (we do hope it can come true).
The Berlin Golden Hat is another important treasure of the Neues Museum. It is one of the four known Golden Hats in the world, of the late bronze age made from thin gold leaf.
As the sun was setting, we ended our day on Museum Island, sitting outside the Berliner Dom watching families strolling around the fountain, kids playing on the grass, dogs walking around the park. At that moment, it felt so carefree in that big open space, under the changing colour of the sky.
There is also an art market just outside Museum Island every weekend where you can find affordable made-in-Berlin arts pieces and creative crafts.
A trip to the Museum of Technology could take you an entire day as it is not just huge, but filled with old locomotives, ships, planes and electronic items of the past.
There were also gadgets of the past.
A special exhibit at the Museum of Technology, of old cars and networking devices.
After watching ‘The Imitation Game’ and reading about Alan Turing and the WWII Code breakers, we wanted to see the original Enigma machine for ourselves. And it still looks to be in impeccable condition.
This Enigma Cipher Machine was used in WWII to send out German military messages. It produces 10,586,916,764,424,000 probabilities, proving difficult to break the code. It took human laziness and mistakes for cryptologists to finally succeed in enciphering the messages and winning the war for the allies.
MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe covers 19,000m2 near the Brandenburg Gate, consisting of 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.
As we walked down the slope, we could no longer look above the stelae, but were instead engulfed within the cold concrete walls that surrounded us.
In that instant, we could feel the sense of loneliness, the slight disorientation as we turned from corner to corner, occasionally seeing someone in the distance and then losing sight of them.
As we walked among the stelae, we were taken down slope and the concrete slabs got taller.
The information centre is located underground below the field of stelae, and features a chilling exhibition about the holocaust as well as diary entries and farewell letters thrown from trains, written by the Jews.
We went in search of German cuisine at Tiergarten Quelle which was conveniently situated near Tiergarten Station. The atmosphere was great, the food was wholesome, and great value for money.
The portions were crazy huge. We had Pilsner, crab soup (a tad too salty but with a generous serving of shrimps inside), turkey schnitzel with croquettes, and the star of the show… an XL sized pork knuckle with sauerkraut!
On our last day in Berlin, we went to Checkpoint Charlie. Although the original guardhouse and sign were dismantled, and the current ones reconstructed, the site still marked an important point in history. There were a couple of private museums in the area, but we decided not to visit any as the area seemed over touristified.
“Unite” and “Liberty”, words in French that we found on the ground located on what used to be the French side of the border.
We strayed into the hipster Kreuzberg neighbourhood and found really good coffee at Concierge, a little hole-in-the-wall joint. There are also many little shops, cafes and restaurants in the area.
The other highlight of Kreuzberg, was the graffiti!
As we were photographing this building, a lady who walked by suddenly stopped to tell us that this used to be her home, and the area didn’t used to be fenced up until too many people trespassed the area. She spoke mostly in German and very limited English, but we loved that serendipitous encounter nonetheless 🙂
MUSEUM DER DINGE
And our final stop in Berlin, the Museum der Dinge (Museum of Things). Located hidden away on the second floor of a street in Kruezberg, it contains rows and rows of things from everyday life and our material culture, things that are old yet too new for ‘proper’ museums. As this is a private museum, the Berlin Museum Pass cannot be used.
The museum is not a top-of-the-list kind of place but though small, it housed a lot of seemingly mundane daily items that might have been lost if they had not been properly archived, especially those that had been collected from the former East or West Germany. We could truly feel that it was a museum with a lot of heart and passion poured into it.
DONER, MORE DONERS AND CURRY WURST
You would almost think that kebab döners and curry wursts were the national foods of Berlin.
Döners are all over Berlin, in the U Bahn stations, along the streets, in restaurants. But the best one has got to be this, from Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap at Mehringdamm 32. The queue was really long at lunch time, but the wait was absolutely worth it!
Also, we had much better curry wurst from Curry 36, also at Mehringdamm.
ED & FLO SUPERMARKET MEALS
Supermarkets are always our favourite source for budget meals. We made most of our breakfast ourselves at the apartment. Cheaper, a more comfortable environment and more vegetables! (Side note: do not try buying herring if you can’t read the packaging, or you may end up with heavily salted ones, just like we did, haha.)
We decided to cook our last meal in Berlin too, partly because we had to get back to the apartment earlier to pack and get ready for an early flight to Krakow the next day.
On the menu was mixed salad, mango hummus, Salmon, roasted tomatoes and butter Portobello Mushrooms. I thought I did quite well given the minimal seasonings I had!
Go back to Part I: http://crazyworldcafe.com/index.php/2016/06/13/travel-berlin-germany/