Willkommen in Berlin

I am in Berlin.  Everyone is speaking German, which seems surreal for some reason.  Even I am speaking German.  I have spouted out my few practiced phrases to great effect, I think.  But I learned quickly to ask young funky people for help.  Luckily, they really like to speak English.  I am typing at a pay terminal in a busy rail transit station.  A funky, young man helped me use it!   Which reminds me the transit here is great and easy to use.  There are many signs up for tourists to track down the sights.  Berlin sights are clustered in several areas which are very walkable and I can take transit in between them.   And weirdly, everybody is white.

Some notes –

I found a great little coffee shop to frequent in Savignyplatz – a trendy area with lovely parks and streets, not too far from my dodgy area (see below).

There is the most amazing architecture here.  Every couple of blocks it seems there is some wild variation on the building code.  And I wasn´t going to bring my camera.

Also, amazing open spaces and squares around some building.  I saw one wonderful plaza amid beautiful classical buildings on the Unter den Linden – of course, that where the Nazis staged their book burnings.

I saw Napoleon´s hat in the German History Museum.   They have all kinds of remarkable paintings, documents and artifacts there.  Went to a wonderful museum on the art of a Berlin artist, Kathe Kollwitz.   Really amazing churches here.  I saw the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and some other great art museums.

I must look like a native Frau.  Some well-dressed Russian women approached me for directions.  I said Ìch bin ein Tourist` but got out my map and tried to help anyway.

The taxi driver from the airport was very friendly and warned me I was in a not good area, but it would be fine during the day.  Some bars and prostitution.  No problem –  I saw on an internet site that the area around this pension looked dodgy but was ok.  And the pension was discribed as `friendly, cheap and useful´ – words to warm the cockles of the heart of any descendent of Scots Presbyterians.   It was for me and it´s perfect. It´s a formerly bourgeois building with great staircases and fancy classical molding on the walls and really high ceilings.  I think my room is higher than it is long.  And it´s full of respectable bargain hunters like me. 

I had a lot of trouble finding an internet machine, but a young girl at a pastry store told me there was one in the station near Dunkin Donuts.  Dunkin Donuts is everywhere, unfortunately – even in Berlin.

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