Auf wiedersehen

auf w

Back at the hotel I cull the accummulated travel detritus of the past weeks to compress my belongings into one bag for the Air Berlin flight to London. The next day is my 26 hour journey back down to Das Hobbit-Land. (New Zealand).

I hate throwing out all the scribbled on visitor maps, museum brochures and train tickets that document my journey. I jettison some well travelled-in clothes instead.

I find a generic key card from some hotel I stayed in (oops) and think about the variety of places I have laid my head on this journey.

From a monastic room in a 17th Century pension building complete with bat (not a typo) –  one really did fly in for a while one night. To a cheap hotel where I was issued with a set of ear plugs due to major road works outside my window and finally my budget blow-out night in a former palace.

Its been a great adventure. Thanks to those who joined me on it. I appreciate you following me as I braved London’s crowded tourist attractions, then went on to the European Cultural Capital Festival in Plzen, Czech Republic.  I just hope the Pilsner Urquell beer profits didn’t plummet too dramatically after my departure.

Until finally I was in Germany, my original destination. Images of Dresden’s beautiful buildings with sooty traces in their brick work as a reminder of the city’s near destruction, will remain with me for a long time.

Lastly, the return to Berlin. Rehaunting old haunts. It was not the same of course. But special in its own way and I am absolutely certain I will be back.

dresdn board





Pergamon Museum Berlin

If you ever angst about how short life is, then don’t go to the Pergamon Museum. Its exhibits, dating back 5000 years, will make you realise what a small inconsequential blip your life occupies in the continuum of time.

Pergamon Museum is the home of the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate for the processional way to Babylon. Currently there is an exhibition of Uruk, a 5000 year old city in southern Iraq. This exhibition has artefacts demonstrating an extremely sophisticated city with advanced administration and the first writing systems not only for pragmatic, but also literary reasons.

The Uruk exhibition celebrates 100 years since the German Archeological expedition there. Apparently the Kaiser was a fan of archeology, which explains the abundance of ancient booty unearthed and brought to Berlin in the early 1900s. Whether these foreign treasures should eventually be repatriated is a discussion for another day.

Regardless, the Pergamon Museum, with the Nefertiti exhibition next door in the Neues Museum, and three other fascinating museums in the Museum Insel precinct, comprise the most interesting collection of museums I have ever seen in any major city.


Another chip out of the wall

I have a postcard in my hand. It has a chip of the Berlin wall captured in a plastic bubble stuck on the front of it. That, with thousands of cards like it, if they are real, are about all thats left of the ‘mauer.’

There’s little left to physically see of the wall now. Much of it I am told, was broken down into chips for parking lots. There is supposedly a section of the wall in the CIA headquarters as a triumphant reminder of the restoration of democracy, and a number of international cities also appropriated a display piece.

You can trace the footprint of it though in the pavement from Potsdamer Platz. There is a Watch Tower still standing just around the corner. You can follow it right through into Friedrich Strasse where the daily Check Point Charlie circus plays out with faux American soldiers posing with tourists for 10 Euros a time.

They stand only a few hundred metres from where real American soldiers witnessed a young East German man bleed out in no mans land, shot trying to scramble over the wall to the west by a GDR border guard. His name was Peter Fechter and he was 18 years old.


The scenic route to school

A quick survey of my colleagues on where they are staying and how, from couch surfing, to apartment sitting, to commuting with several train changes to the school, and I consider myself amazingly fortunate for the apartment arranged through the Goethe Institut. For a start, no tourist bus or boat tour company will make a Euro out of me.

My apartment is next to a spree canal, where from my window I see people sunning themselves on park benches, whilst tour boats ply the water. Around the corner is the Ku’damm, the boulevard of chic shopping currently choked with tour coaches. And my local park is the Tiergarten.

My commute to the school by local bus, is a Top 10 of Berlin sights including, Schloss Bellevue, Haus der Kulteren der Welt, the Grosse Stern, the Brandenberger Tor, the Bundestag, Humbolt Universitat, Berlin Dom, Unden den Linden and terminates in Alexanderplatz, below the Fernsehturm. I have whiplash from constantly turning back to get a better look as we pass. And I get to do this every day.