Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finishing the Daytrip in Berlin

So because we were taking so long to finish the one day tour, I decided today we should start at the other end and work back. We began our day with a stroll along Karl Marx Allee, formerly known as Stalin Allee. Stalin, another rather wretched dictator, was in power when the Red Army plowed their way over Berlin at the end of WWII. Interestingly, when Hitler committed suicide he selected one of his personal favourites to succeed him and as that man waved the flag of surrender to the Western Allies advancing from the west, he continued the fight against the Soviets approaching from the east. He did this so that any soldiers or civilians left in the city could flee to the western side to avoid the Red Army. It seems a rather thoughtful move by a group not known for their humanity.

Anyhow, the stroll up communist alley was delightful. The buildings were exactly as I would have expected: large rectangular boxes of about the same size and shape spread in an orderly fashion up the boulevard. The boxes were 1950’s communist chic; that is to say, they were not completely unfortunate. We stopped in a café to see the piece of ear and moustache of the old Stalin statue that used to stand on the boulevard. Kind of Van Gogh-like actually. When we got to the end of our stroll, we arrived at the TV tower. This was a monument to communism. It towers over the city and can be seen from almost everywhere. It was built to commemorate an atheist state but in a bizarre twist, a cross is reflected in the huge mirrored ball when the sun shines. This is known as “the Pope’s revenge”. The sun was not shining today so I cannot confirm this happens.

We went up the tower elevator and had a spectacular view of the city. I did wonder what it was used for during the Cold War. I mean, come on, you have a tower view right out over West Berlin after all. In Hungary we saw a fun spy training video so we know the spies were out in force. I say “fun” because it was truly funny but only because it was done so long ago. It was, in fact, a real training video used to train citizens forced to spy for the communists. So, the tower would have been a great place to spy on your neighbours. On the other hand, maybe they’d send people up as a form of torture. You know, a kind of “see what you don’t have” view?

We had lunch at a fun bakery café which Rhys announced was the high point of his day. Sigh. After lunch we finally made it over to Museum Island where we had left off the day before. We bought the three day museum pass and proceeded to file through to our first museum: the Egyptian Museum. While Rhys’s high point was lunch, I have to say mine was seeing the bust of Nefertiti. It moved me to tears it was so beautiful. She has her own room and you aren’t allowed to take pictures so I had to download one from online. I have seen this picture in many different books on ancient Egypt and it has always been one of my favourites. Seeing it today was extremely moving. If they had had benches, I would have sat to gaze at the statue for longer. She was perfectly preserved and skillfully created.

We all enjoyed the museum and each had our highlights. For Rhys it was the necklace of shells found in a 6000 year old grave. For Julia it was the Berlin Green Man, a bust of an Egyptian done in green stone. Again, so skillfully crafted that archaeologists aren’t sure what date to give him. Perhaps the artist was “before his time”. For Tom it was the copper axe heads from 6000 years ago found by a farmer. He was impressed at the technology and ingenuity shown by people so long ago. Another piece that I particularly liked was the 3000 year old hat made of solid gold. It looked like a wizard hat and was perfectly preserved. The pattern of lines and circles decorating it were actually a system of calendar and time. It is thought the hat was a ceremonial piece. There were more surprises inside but those were the highlights.


maryanncart said...

Wow...love having your blogs...and talking/seeing you...I say Yea for the POPE...and I loved your Van Goh "ear" comparison...still laughing about that...And Rhys,,, why the choice you made at this museum? Love all of you...Grandma Mac