June 10′ 2015
Berlin Day 2 – Museums and the Wall
It always takes a day or two to figure out mass transit in a big city like Berlin. Mission accomplished and now we get ready to move on. But let me summarize the day’s adventures. We started with our usual Danish and coffee at a bakery down the street from the hotel. We also picked up our picnic sandwiches. It seems to work better to have your meal with you before launching into new territory.
We reached Berlin’s Museum Island easily by walking from the train station through an open air market. While the fruits and veggies are efficiently ready for sale, the German markets seem to lack the panache of the French and Italian open markets. Just an observation.
We had our Berlin Pass tickets so we walked to the entrance passing two hour waiting sign. We were there 15 minutes before opening and were about the 10th persons in line. Despite what the guide book said, we did not need to reserve an online time slot. We were in and moving around within 5 minutes of opening and storing our bags.
Right inside the door puts you back in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The Ishtar Gates from Babylon loomed up before, around and above us. Impressive and I am glad the Germans removed this unique artifact from Iraq before the maniacs had a chance to destroy it. The same can be said for many of the antiquities although I do feel sorry for the Greeks. The Brits got the front and back of the Parthenon, the Germans got metopes on the sides. They made it through the destruction of WWII. The same cannot be said for large parts of the collections that now reside in Russia or the items that were damaged and in the process of restoration. Unfortunately, the Pergamon Altar will not be available for viewing until 2019. There was plenty of other things to see.
The Diocletian gate from Miletus was amazing and brought back memories of Split. Peggy enjoyed posing with the large cats that reminded her of our own wonderful cat Goldie. The presence of the Stele of Hammurabi was worth the price of admission alone. We then switched museums easily and found ourselves wandering through the massive Egyptian collection. They didn’t find the Ark of the Covenant but they brought pack plenty. Their were several complete tombs with the hieroglyphics that were crisp enough to have been carved yesterday. Of course, we saw Nefertiti in all her glory. No pictures allowed because of the painted plaster. Great collection of hieroglyphs that were translated. I enjoyed the one complaining about bad wine. I need a copy to post in the cellar.
There was a floor dedicated to Neolithic and Medieval German and Northern European archeology. While using limited energy to walk the collection was not in the plan, we were glad we did. We encountered a cabinet with 500 BC pottery from Graubunden. This is the region of Switzerland that Peggy’s family comes from. The pottery was the rich green that we seem to collect. Now we know why.
This is not original cone head. It is a calendar from 1000 BC that a German Merlin used to wear to keep track of the days and years. It does all the stuff that the 50 ton Mayan calanders do and you can wear it on your head. It is even made of gold.
World’s toughest sparrows.
We had lunch with some aggressive sparrows and headed back on the train to the Berlin Wall Memorial. The open air displays feature some of the only real,sections of the wall that was built in 1961 and became a part of our living history. The grassy areas were the dead zones. The East Germans went to tremendous lengths to imprison their citizens. There are pictures of those killed trying to escape as well as brass escutcheons marking successful escapes. This was the real thing and no tacky tourist junk was permitted. There was a church that interfered with fields of fire that was first sealed off and then blown up by the Commies. A small chapel now sits where the old church was built. The twisted cross was hidden by grave diggers from the authorities until after the fall of the Communists.