The holiday is almost at an end. I have 48 hours left in Europe so I bolt north on the ICE train for a quick visit to the Berliner Bear.
I am staying in the leafy suburb of Dahlem in an old, opulent apartment complete with parquet floors, french doors and high ceilings. Berlin’s Botanical Gardens and the Free University are just a short walk away.
Dinner is in Charlottenberg and most of the conversation is about art and politics. Later my host takes me into the city for a drink at the famous Adlon Hotel on Pariser Platz facing the Brandenburg Gate.
I have a full commentary on his experiences growing up in a divided city whilst I down Bellinis. We talk so late we leave the hotel to find the Brandenburg Gate almost devoid of tourists.
Next morning I eat breakfast in a local cafe pouring over the Berliner MorgenPost reading of the recent election. There have been gains made by the far right party which is a little unsettling in what is normally a liberal city.
Its a glorious day so I eventually rouse myself to walk the length of the Unten den Linden towards the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral). I note many of the familiar old buildings are now draped in scaffolding for repairs.
I have just the afternoon free so choose one gallery to visit today, the Bauhaus Archiv.
It’s a good call. On display are some of the top items in the archive. I am back amongst work by Klee, Itten and Kandinsky and for the first time, I home in on Oskar Schlemmer. He has an incredible aluminium statue that looks like something out Fritz Lang’s Metropolis film. There are also examples of the Bauhaus ‘design for living’ furniture. These 1930s prototypes are still part of many design houses even today.
The evening finds me supporting my host’s team in what we would call back home a ‘fun run’ in the Olympic Stadium which, if you know your history, was where Hitler staged his showcase 1936 Olympic Games. Still standing are large statues that look haughtily down on us as the teams celebrate in hospitality tents on grounds where huge rallies were held in the 1930s.
And then its pumpkin hour. I am driven to Tegel Airport for the last Air Berlin flight to Frankfurt and my arduous 26 hour journey back to the end of the world in the morning.
Thanks for taking this journey with me. Vielen danke für alles to my friends, old and new, across Europe. I look forward to seeing you again soon.