Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 10 - Berlin

Day 10

1.Quotes of the day
2.Paying Olympic homage
3.A long walk in the woods
6.Hidden restaurants

What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.

The weather has truly broken, it was almost cold tonight. We wondered what the blankets laying over the chairs at the restaurants were for, and tonight coming back at around 10:30 we see that the outdoor patrons have put them on, laying them over their shoulders...who knew?

Off we go, a bit earlier today, to the outer reaches of the S-Bahn. In fact, there is construction on the line and we ended up transferring to the U-Bahn, all to end up at a Seventh Day Adventists month-long meeting. Well, that’s who has rented out the Olympic Stadium, and thus we are only able to see the 1936 (and updated for 2006 World Cup) edifice from the outside.

It’s a nice day, best weather so far on the trip, and from the Big O we head to a spot in a forest where the allies piled up a huge amount of rubble to give a view of the city. It’s about a 2 mile walk from the stadium, the last 100 meters straight up a set of stairs. The vista is very impressive! And, we notice three huge “golf ball” buildings, in tatters, on an adjacent hill, and learn later they are the remains of listening stations for the West to spy on the East. 200 years from now, tour buses full of aliens will stop by and wonder what these odd structures were used for.

From the forest we head over to the Berggruen museum, full of Picassos (some very good), Matisses (all very good), smattering of Giacomettis (also all terrific) and a bunch of Klee (only one I liked, of course totally different from the work he is known for) and a few Braques (good). A gem of a place and the benefactor, Heinz Berggruen, is the father of John, who runs a gallery in SF. Across the street is a sister building and Museum, this for Surrealists. A no-go…nothing of note except for a few more Giacomettis, which again are terrific.

Museum café for lunch, one cheese and one salami sandwich, two drinks, $15. Eat outside, it is lovely today, no humidity, finally. (Maybe you can tell by now, the big news of the day was the weather.)

Back to town to walk along the Eastside Gallery, where in the early 90s artists painted panels of the wall. Graffiti artists have covered all the original panels, and so the government is in process of putting fresh concrete on the panels and inviting the original artists back to recreate their work. We see two such artists in process, so you can see the four layers: original (with graffiti), blank canvas, recreations in process, recreations completed.

Then cross over the Calatrava-updated Au Oberdaum Bridge, no way to tell what he did to it, nothing of his signature work at all.

We visit another schmuck spot recommended by a friend of a friend and DB scores a ring.

Off to dinner. This was to be our second night at a “hidden” restaurant, found through an article in the NYT. The first reservation fell through, the Shy Chef e-mailed to say that she was having kitchen problems. Tonight we are at Cookies Cream, in an alley off the Unter Den Linden. In an alley isn’t quite right, it’s between the opera and the Westin. That’s not quite it either. It is down the alley, behind the Westin, past the garbage bins (not a few garbage bins, MANY garbage bins), the opera’s hydraulic freight elevator lift, around another corner, take another turn, go up a short flight of stairs and ring a bell (that we aren’t sure belongs to the restaurant), enter into a dark foyer with several doors (that we can see in the dim light) that say No Entry (in German) and then we go up a flight of stairs and then, there we are, right in the restaurant. Gosh, so simple, we can only wonder at how they never have a single drop-in. The place next door is a nightclub, open from 11pm to 6am.

Dinner is vegetarian (something I forgot when we booked a month or two ago), and very good and very rich. Three course meal for $40 and all three courses are very interesting, somewhat strange, and decidedly not German food. More like California cuisine, e.g., first course of backed egg yolk with compote of beluga lentils (olive of egg yolk, crème, rondini), second course Pearl barley-lettuce rolls with backyard gardening vegetables (orange emulsion, jus, backed shallots)., dessert of Lemon tarte with kokoa parfait (marinated currant). Along with a very nice bottle of Gruner Vetliner and tip, all for $155.

Then we exit (down the stairs, into the garbage bin alley, etc.) from a very warm restaurant to find it is cool and breezy outside. Take a detour to see the Classic Open Air festival in Gendarmiren Market (between sister cathedrals) and they are singing arias with a full symphony, from the steps of the building between the cathedrals, with bleachers set up for viewing. Shades of Wrigley, opposite the stage there are people in the upper floors of the apartments listening in from their balconies.

Back to the apartment; today we have taken seven different tram trips, all separated by at least 2 hours. We think we’ve been in or out of at least 20 stations so far on the trip, out of the 100+ on the metro map. It is quite a system, and the 7 day pass has been terrific for us, we have yet to take a taxi after the initial ride in from the airport.

(one more weather note, today on morning of Day 11, again cool and now overcast...we may be moving quickly to rain and cold!)


  1. hey, was that a touch of hubris in the statement "have yet to take a taxi..."?
    perhaps one taxi ride a couple of days ago would have allowed you to avoid a "discussion". and
    think of the conversations you are missing with taxi drivers who, incidentally, need to make a living, too.
    meditations not withstanding, I'm enjoying your trip. joann

  2. Wellllllll...the 'cheap' part of THB is definitely enjoying the maximizing of our metro cards, and isn't above including a shot or two of how wonderfully frugal we're being by not using cabs. And, yes, THB would not have had much to write about the journey to Spinnerei if he had just decided to cab out...though something tells me that the $ amount of that ride would've made it into the blog!!! thx, THB