Travel notes from Amy's European and Scandinavian vacation - 2010.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Life is fantastic. I am happy.
We went shopping in Prenzlauerberg in Berlin. After we had Flammkuchen and Latte Machiatos at Café de Paris. Maren, Claudia and Amy, soaking in the easy sophistication of one of Berlin's most wonderful neighborhoods. The sun came out, and we found ourselves sitting without words for long periods of time. This should really happen every day, not just on extravagant vacations. We should really be able to take time everyday to sit and think and observe - with people we love right beside us. The Flammkuchen is like a crepe pizza. I ordered Flammkuchen with goat cheese and onions. The onions were so sweet. Our French waiter was a bit challenged, as he was the only one working, but it's always more relaxed in European cafés. There's not the rush to be finished and to pay and to move on. We easily could have sat there all day and no one would have bothered us.
But we went on to some shopping and found a few wonderful boutiques. I bought a new purse and some ballerina flats in my favorite color. Now I just need a pair of skinny jeans to wear with these flats and I'll look all Euro-chic. My new bag is from a Spanish designer called Desigual.
The embroidery reads: Life is fantastic. I am happy. I thought that was fitting!
Maren was a terrific guide. She knows the streets of Berlin in and out, and getting a car tour was special. She drove us past the stadium where Berliners watch Weltmeisterschaft Fußball. Impressive! We got to watch Italy play the first night we arrived in Berlin. Every bar or restaurant we passed walking in Kreuzberg had a flat screen showing the game. The constant wasp-buzzing sound of the vuvuyelas luring us. We'd pass one café and hear a whooping noise, another and hear a resounding sigh of dissappointment. By the time we made it to the end of the street, we felt we'd captured nearly every play of the game.
We stopped at Potsdammer Platz, where pieces of the Mauer and guards swarmmed with tourists stand to stamp your passport, as if you were really crossing into the East. Potsdammer was reconstructed in the 60's - lots of money was poured into the area to rebuild it. There are many impressive buildings, and an IMAX.
Just down the street, there is a Holocaust Memorial, a monument designed by architect Peter Eisenman, in memory of the murdered Jews of Europe during WWII. The monument was finished in 2004. At first, it seems to be just a series of grey, concrete stumps, but as you move deeper into the installation, the passagways narrow, and the blocks become taller and you begin to feel the weight of lives lots during the holocaust.
People, including us, were playing on the blocks. It might seem irreverent not to treat it like a cemetery, but the architects themselves expected people to respond naturally to the built environment.
Maren showed us a spot on one of the roads that maks where the Berlin Wall would have been. There is an inscription telling a bit about it. Mostly this goes unnoticed.
There really are a lot of people in the world, and when you visit a city the size of Berlin, it's easy to feel very insignificant. I think about 4 million people live in Berlin. After touring around with Maren, it seems there could never be enough space for all of them. A ton of them were probably tourists, and when we went to the Brandenburg Gate, even a Native American Indian showed up.
Maren the Amazing Tour Guide took us to several famous Berlin Theaters. We stopped off where the Berlin Ensemble performs, had a visit with Bertold Brecht, saw the foyer of the famous Volksbühne and then made our way to the Museums Insel (Island) area to the Berlin Amphitheater.
We closed out the evening near the Museums Insel (Island), on one of Berlin's Beach Bars. Strand Bar #1 comes highly recommended. Maren treated me to a Berliner Pilsner, and we relaxed before going to the theater to see Don Juan. The theater was much like the Globe in London. Outdoor theater in the round. We were lucky to have such good weather. Don Juan was very funny, and a bit slap stick.There ws even some audience participation.