Auf Wiedersehen

Well, it has been fantastic to be in Berlin for a week.  I hope all the great artwork and cultural images will impress on my brain and, in some modest way, help my own artwork.  I’ve found some really interesting work done by more obscure artists here.

I learned today that the transit station Friedrichstrasse Banhof, where I check my e-mail, was split in two during the Cold War.  People traveling east were kept separate from people traveling west.

I visited the Jewish Museum today.  Extraordinary building by Daniel Libeskind and a very moving exhibit.  There is an empty concrete angled room with a very, very high black ceiling. Down one seam between the walls there is a long crack of light.  The room represents the loss of Jewish culture during the war. The exhibit is brilliantly designed and lots of women represented in it, which is very good.

There is a chain of cafes here called Cafe Einstein.  I usually get a coffee and yogurt and sit in the window.  I’d only sit on a high stool in the window in a city where no one knows me.  Seems goofy.  But it’s a great way to check out the passing scene.

Strolled through the Tiergarten, the big park in the centre of the city.  Lots of people.  It’s a really lovely place, especially with leaves changing colour now.

There is a food place near the internet station that has huge loaves of meat of some kind.  They saw off a one inch slab, put it in a tiny bun – which is just a kind of holder- and then give the huge slab to the customer.  As a near-vegetarian, I can only watch agog as the customer rips into the meat.

I see the little green traffic man everywhere.  Signs,  shirts…I guess he is a kitschy symbol in Berlin.

One interesting thing in Berlin is the sheer arbitrariness of what survived the 1945 bombings and what didn’t.

Luckily, the medieval Marienkirke near Alexanderplatz did.  It has a 22 foot mural “Der Totentanz” from the 1400s – a kind of conga line of clergy dancing with skeletons. I entered just as the huge organ started playing.  The sound exploded through the church, seeming almost too powerful for the building.  I sat down and listened to the organist play 2 pieces.  An unexpected treat.

Spent the morning in Mitte, lots of art galleries.  Saw a lot of contemporary art.  Then I went to the Egyptian Museum – above it is an art installation that says in giant letters ALL ART IS CONTEMPORARY.  The showpiece of the exhibit is the 3000 year old bust of Nefertiti, but the other artifacts with their clean lines and mysterious auras were a pleasure to look at.

I just got comfortable saying ‘Eine Bagette mit Kase, bitte” and now it’s time to go home. I made inquiries and found the Hauptbanhof has luggage storage I can use for a few hours and the bus to Tegel Airport leaves from there.

So…tomorrow it’s “Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin – Hello Vancouver”


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