Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Berlin Day 2
On this 2nd day in Berlin we performed the same routine as yesterday; using the train to get in from Zossen, from about 40 minutes south of the Capital. Last night on the way back Berlin, at the rail road station I asked some strangers if they could give us a ride back to the hotel. Without much to do these young, hippies looking, folks packed us in a VW bus and we did not have to walk the 2 miles from the Railroad Station to the Hotel. It all worked like clockwork.
After getting into Berlin on Day 2, we wanted to visit the Reichstag Building, part of the German Bundestag (Parliament). Already, at 10am a long line waited to see the inside of this Building. We saw the line yesterday and figured that on a Sunday morning we would not have to wait. Well, there is always a line up to see the glass cupola Sir Norman Foster, the British Architect, created for this old building. There is a security check before entering the building. Outside the Reichstag looks old, but inside it is very modern, totally new and technologically advanced. A glass cupola was chosen to show the transparency of Government. Admission to the glass dome is free but only so many people are allowed in at once. Large, adjustable mirrors hang on a center column to direct the sunlight into the actual Parliament right below. A rotating sunscreen was added to create shade, if and when needed. This design by Sir Norman Foster was effective and artistically pleasing.
The concept, this very modern approach to a building inside an old, historic building could be a guide for many historic places. I liked it a lot. Could we have planned better and also get a tour of the actual plenary chamber of the German Bundestag section? This is the room where political discussions are held. Well, there is so much to do, so much to plan, we were happy with the little we could see. Besides, in the 2 days we had, where is your preference?
Being in Berlin we wanted to experience a classical music performance. Carol read about a 4pm performance at the Konzerthaus on the Gendarme Market. This building, like many buildings in Berlin was designed by Karl Friederich Schinkel, the famed Architect of the 18th Century. It is a splendid building on a famous square lined with outdoor café’s. We used one of these coffee places to write some postcards and then it rained. Lucky for us we had a cover but it rained extremely heavily. I don’t know about you but I love to sit in a protected area having a coffee and watch people’s reaction to a heavy downpour. To me this is the ultimate in people watching. We just sat and enjoyed our coffee and let the world go by.
We learned later that while we were sitting there peacefully, all tickets to this afternoon’s performance were being sold. Not a seat left for the 4 pm Concert. What to do? We are off to KaDeWe, the largest Department store in Continental Europe.
There are tons of articles for sale on about 600,000 Square feet. There are 2000 employees servicing 180,000 daily customers. The 6th floor is famous since here alone 34,000 products are available in the Deli Dept. Yet when we go there, on a Sunday afternoon, it is closed! The store hours in Germany, yes, even in big Berlin, are much more moderate than in the U.S. or Canada. Normal store hours are from 10am to 6pm Mon-Fri, Sat until 2pm only and Sunday most of the stores are closed. We took a chance that KaDeWe would be open but no such thing. So we had to think of an alternative.
We tested out the U-Bahn system and liked it a lot; it was much easier getting around the city than using buses. On one platform we read that the ‘Blue Man Group” had a performance and we bought the tickets for this performance right away, having learned from our Konzerthaus experience. After a slow dinner of typical german food (sausage and sauerkraut for me, Berliner liver for Carol), we experienced the world famous Blue Man Group performance. A pantomime in blue with loud, weird music and slap stick comedy. Not my favorite thing to see. Yet, it is all part of life and life is good in Berlin. We might come back to this city some day. For now, we are off to explore places in the former DDR that were hidden for so long by politics.