Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Thursday evening, my host parents informed me their party got cancelled so I would not need to babysit on Friday. Spontaneously, I decided to go to Berlin! If you know me, you know I like plans. So with one day left, I planned anyways! I was lucky enough to stay with Freja Lina, a very nice Swede who went skiing with us. With a place to crash out of the way, I went about figuring out what I wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t even buy a bus ticket to go back until Sunday! That’s definitely living on the edge if you’re me. Anyways, here’s what I did:
Saturday morning I started out with bagels and lox for breakfast. One of the other Au Pairs I know from Hamburg told me that if I enjoyed the whole bagels and bookshop combo that I had to go to this place called Shakespeare & Sons. My beautiful pumpernickel topped with chive cream cheese, lox, onions, and capers, tasted like home and tradition and happiness. I also enjoyed looking at all the books in the shop (in English of course!) like the ones my parents read to me as a child or cookbooks my mom and I use together. Fueled for the day, I walked by a neat market called Urban Spree and a part of the wall called the East Gallery. From there I went to a market recommended to me by my host family. Called Markthalle 9, it boasted many local vendors and an overall feast for the senses. I drank coffee and took it all in, then grabbed a Mango Lassi ice cream cone and headed for a walk.
After checking out a couple of cute shops and buying some postcards I took the train to Bernauer Strasse. It was neat to see a monument to the wall. I enjoy the panels they have all over the city that make the wall into a sort of outdoor museum. Then I headed towards Mauerpark where I sat on a swing and watched graffiti artists at work. Afterwards, I met up with Freja Lina and her girlfriend Karo (also at Skiurlaub) and we looked at all of the cherry blossoms nearby! It was the first time I had ever seen a cherry blossom tree and now I understand what all the fuss is about. I’ve found some here around town too and I absolutely love them! Then I went with them to meet up with some friends at a beer garden. I also walked down a beautiful wide street and found a synagogue nearby. I appreciate how much Berlin sometimes can remind me of home with things like quality bagels and synagogues. After that, it was pretty much dinner and sleep. Sleep is always a goal for a weekend away as I can always sleep a little longer when I don’t hear children, though I do miss family breakfast.
The next morning, I went back to the bagel place because they were having a Challah French Toast special. My mouth waters just remembering that deliciousness. From there, I decided to go to Potsdam. Potsdam is to Berlin as Versailles is to Paris. Having loved Versailles, I figured I had to see Potsdam. The beautiful palaces (yup, there are multiple) and expansive gardens did not disappoint. Plus the train gave me lots of time to catch up on War and Peace. I realized I read about 10% of the book each month, so at this rate I’ll finish this summer woohoo! Anyways, because I’m probably the only person who thinks reading War and Peace is cool, back to Berlin.
Karo recommended the museum inside the Hamburger Bahnhof, the old train station right near the new central station. Having liked the layout of the Musee d’Orsay, I knew I would enjoy this. I even met some Americans in line who spoke Brasilian Portuguese! I really liked the variety in the exhibitions I saw, especially the one about art during WWII. It was a collection of the kind of art favored by Hitler, as well as art done by artists in response to what was happening after they had fled Germany. Overall, my visit to Berlin was a success! For me, it’s the coolest city outside of NYC and I definitely hope to go back.
Bagel of my dreams
Mango Lassi Ice Cream (too impatient to not eat some before taking a picture)
Palace in Potsdam
Seen on a street in Potsdam, it says "Here lived..." with the date of deportation to Theresienstadt
Bought chocolate ruggelah from Shakespeare & Sons and ate it in the park in Potsdam
Thank you, Freja Lina!
A building burned down across the street from the kids’ kindergarten and school. It was over 100 years old and now it’s a heap of softly smoking rubble. I had to walk by it several times today and each time at least a dozen people just stood there looking at it. Everyone feels upset because this building was such a part of the town’s history. But there’s also a Jewish cemetery across the street. And where were you 85 years ago when my people burned?