Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010: Berlin for E19,95/Day

(Dieter) Got an early start today (4 am) as I completed a number of my sabbatical projects for this week so that I could spend the day with my family. After a relaxing breakfast, we walked out to begin our day of walking. Our first sight was this huge bag of people’s belongings, ready to flee the east to the west (symbolic). We then headed down toward Check Point Charlie and were met by a convoy of old DDR cars. The Topography of Terror, was our next destination, headquarters of the former Secret Service. We held back the tears as we saw photos of the many atrocities that were committed as the result of the decisions that were made behind these cold surreal walls of brick. Stunned, we walked quietly down the road, following the brick path that marked the place were the Berliner Mauer once stood until 1989. The path led us right to the Sony place, right into a new building (were Karannina and Alexander met SpiderMan), past the Lego World and onto our next destination, the Musical Instrument Museum, just in time to hear the performance of an amazing Wurlitzer Organ. The sounds filled the entire museum, echoing off the walls and the windows as well as off the many musical exhibits of harpsichords, pianos, violins, cellos, brass instruments, wind instruments and even experimental instruments like violins with horn assemblies. Even violins disguised as walking sticks and collapsible harpsichords. Karannina got to see the makings of a grand piano. We had an opportunity to play on four old instruments, an Italian harpsichord from the 17th century. Next, we walked a little aimlessly, trying to find the Gemäldegalierie with its many paintings from the early 1400 to present. The most interesting was Rembrandt’s painting of a Mennonite minister – Hildebrandt. However, I liked framing Karannina in one of the three arches of the museum. Just a tunnel away, we entered the Kunst Museum. Amazing displays of handiworks from the Dark Ages to present from fabric, metal, glass (Vase dedicated to Napoleon), and precious metals. Had a quick look at the Berliner Philharmonie and Karannina wishfully is playing her magic air flute, with hopes of one day playing in this amazing hall. She discovers Mistletoe growing on a tree. Then a long hike back to our youth hostel, we had the opportunity to see the incredible difference between the capitalistic west with the high rises, the Sony building and bright colours whereas the east side was cold, dark run-down buildings (had to peak behind one wall) and vacant lots facing toward the west (no man’s land). Pink pipes, used for draining the high water table in many buildings throughout Berlin, greeted us as we got closer to our home. As a prize for our efforts of walking so many miles, I find a 20E bill and present it to our children as a challenge to find a creative supper to feed all four. With the challenge and money in hand, they led us through the closest HIT (supermarket) and came up with one red pepper, one prepared green salad, one cooked ham sliced in 7 pieces, one large loaf of Weltmeisterbrot, and one frozen dessert of Tartufo (chocolate dessert). Alexander was amazed as the cashier rang up the bill: E19,95. WOW! And 5 cents to spare. We added our cheese, our sour cherry drink and grapefruit beer from yesterday and had an amazing supper in our room with the music of David Garrett – German violinist, playing in the background. Legs exhausted, eyes fully stimulated from the many sites, and emotions somewhat torn, we let go of the world around outside of our room and focus on the incredible blessings we have of life, comfort, family, peace, food,… and we don’t deserve any of this. Why us?

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