20 Sep 2011

Berlin Day 2 – Monday, September 19, 2011

Posted by Deborah

(by Deb)
We started our second morning in Berlin with a leisurely breakfast at the Pfefferbett Hostel. The breakfast buffet wasn’t too appealing but they had reasonably priced alternatives – aka a chocolate croissant for me and eggs and bacon for Seth. Our first order of business was checking into our next hotel. We’d considered extending our stay at the Pfefferbett because it was actually a very nice, new hostel with a funky bar area and super clean rooms. But there were a few annoying details – like showers that automatically turned off after a minute or so – that motivated us to find another place. We decided on the Circus Hotel, which had been recommended by both of my Europe books and also happened to be ranked No. 1 out of 600 some Berlin hotels on TripAdvisor.

The room was ready by the time we got there around noon, so we dropped off our bags and headed off to explore the offerings on Museum Island. We started out with the Pergamon, which is renowned for its Greek and Byzantine relics. It was built to house the enormous Pergamon alter, which the Germans pillaged from the Greeks. I took several pictures of a replica of the walls leading to the main gate of Bablyon, but it doesn’t quite convey the scale. It was certainly worth the visit to be able to experience that perspective. I also enjoyed the Islamic art exhibit on the second floor. Of course, the Persian rugs weren’t as pretty as ours, but I’m sure they’re worth much more. 🙂 Pages from illustrated books reminded me slightly of our ketubah design, though of course the subject matter was very different.

From the Pergamon, we rounded the corner to check out the Bode Museum. Seth went upstairs to read articles on his phone while I toured the exhibits at whirlwind speed (well, by my standards). Meanwhile, Seth chatted with a jolly old German guy from Dresden who had visited Canada at some point in his life, or that’s what Seth thought he was trying to say in his Germ-glish.

To complete our museum-happy day, we went to the History Museum, but we didn’t even get through the top floor before it closed. That floor covered German history from the beginning of civilization through the end of the first World War. The second half of the museum covered the post WW I period onward. There was a lot of reading, which Seth enjoyed, and a surprising amount of art and artifacts.

Racing against the sunset, we took the train to the “East Gallery,” which is one of three areas where remains of the Berlin Wall still stand. Artists were asked to decorate panels of the wall in this section, which resulted in a kind of memorial/public art project. It was surprisingly long, which gave a real feel for what it must have been like when the wall actually divided the city.

After walking to the end of the gallery, we hopped a train back to the Pfefferbet Hostel stop. Though we were no longer staying there, a restaurant sharing the hostel’s courtyard called Tauro had previously caught our eye. Upon entering, we learned that it was actually two restaurants with completely separate kitchens: a Spanish tapas place downstairs, and a steakhouse upstairs. Since we’ll be eating authentic tapas in Spain shortly, we opted for the more generic menu. Seth got a rump roast to make up for the fact that I ate half of his meat the previous night, and I had sea bass on top of a “salad” of tomatoes (fresh and sun dried) and buttery fried bread. Little Mole helped us lick the plates.

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