Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 11 - Berlin

Day 11
1.Quotes of the day
2.If you can train a dog to read…
4.Meeting up with friends from home

Hamlet: (Reads.) For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion, — Have you a daughter?

Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain

Begin this beautiful weather day at the local Farmers Market, sharing a Berliner (jelly donut, this one with icing on top) and a whole wheat almond croissant. Two lattes, total of $8. When Kennedy made his famous remark about being a Berliner, who knew he was really referring to himself as a local donut.

Rest up the rest of the morning, lunch of fresh greens, cherries, odd striped white and green berries, and “pizzas” from the morning’s shopping.

On the metro, we see the oddest Berlin (anywhere?) sight yet: a dog is walking down the aisle with a magazine in a plastic holder hanging down from his mouth, panhandling!! Ah, here comes his partner, following behind by about 20 feet. The dog stops most of the way through the car, his buddy stops, leaving the 20 feet between them, hawking the magazine (we assume, it’s obviously in German, or at least the part being spoken by the panhandler, we're not sure if the dog is speaking German). As the train slows to enter the next station, the dog even does a half turn of the head to show off the magazine for sale. Of course, we do not have a camera with us.

Off to the Neue National Gallery, the good news is that the Imi Knoebbel show is already down, the bad news is that they haven’t put up a new show yet, and the sculpture garden is closed. The rest of the museum (downstairs) is dedicated to a collection of surrealists, and is very well put together (if not the finest works by the artists). The entry to the show is a gallery of photographs of all the artists in the collection, which is terrific. Then throughout the show there are more photographs and mini-biographies, very well done. Outside (not below in the sculpture garden), are a real Serra steel block and a Chilleda.

Then we walk back towards the Brandeburg Gate to take in the information center below the Memorial to the Murdered European Jews. It is down below the memorial, and extends the theme of the “coffins” above, projecting stories of families killed during the Holocaust; very moving, and totally complementary to the above ground memorial. We’re glad we decided to go back and complete the experience and in retrospect to do the two parts separately in some sense has allowed us to appreciate each more fully as independent pieces that work on their own AND resonate so well together. While it is not easy to talk about memorials as art (in the sense of seeming to appreciate or reward the reason for the memorial), the best ones are terrific art that makes you think about the event being memorialized in deep and respectful ways. Both “halves” of this memorial succeed dramatically.

Dinner with friends from Trestle Glen neighborhood who just happen to be in staying in Berlin for a week, at a hotel around 6 blocks from our apartment. Eat locally, DB has fish and I have Weiner Schnitzel, which is fine as long as I squeeze a lot of lemon on it. Share a bottle of German merlot, pretty decent. Total per couple, $90.

During the pre-game, we also share the bottle of bubbly pinot noir purchased at the farmers market, it's better than expected (pretty low expectations!), and other goodies. During the conversation, we realize that we also overlapped when we were in India in early January, and then that we had both stayed in the same resort in Mamallapuram about a week apart!

It’s cool enough tonight that people are wrapping themselves in the restaurant-provided blankets and many people are eating inside, and there aren’t as many people out (or so it seems). People are wearing sweaters and jackets, not your loyal correspondent, who is definitely enjoying the shift in the weather and sticks to short sleeves.

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