“Ich bin ein Berliner”

This past weekend I visited Berlin! I was there from early on Friday through late on Sunday. You’d be surprised to hear that it was actually a lot colder down south in Berlin than it is in Sweden. Brrrrrrrr! Here’s what I was up to:

The weekend started with a 4AM alarm and catching the 5AM train over to the Copenhagen Airport. I arrived with plenty of time, but had quite a brain fart while going through security, having the wrong size bag for my liquids, not taking out my laptop or iPad, having water in my water bottle, and a hand sanitizer bottle in some random pocket in my backpack. Stupid American! The flight was pretty uneventful and we arrived on time! I decided to take a cab into town as I didn’t really want to figure out the public transport system right then. I had no Euros with me (as Sweden is not in the eurozone…) so I expected to pay with my credit card as the window of the cab said I could. The driver of course spoke no English and denied my credit card, so she instead took me to an ATM where I had to get cash. Annoying, but whatever!

After dropping off a bag at my hotel I headed out to start sightseeing! My brother suggested I go to Alexanderplatz, so that’s what I did first. I don’t know why he suggested it because it is basically a train station? There were some Christmas markets too but not much else…so don’t take travel recommendations from my brother. After that I walked by a church (St. Mary’s Church) and went in to look around. There was a sign that said something about organs and 1:30pm on Fridays, which I assumed would be a concert, so I planned to come back later and find out!

Oh, this thing was near Alexanderplatz.

I then went to the DDR Museum (no, not Dance Dance Revolution). It was really interesting and interactive which was nice. It made me realize how little I know about German/European 20th century history so it was a good starting place. After some lunch I went to Berlin Cathedral:

It was €4 to get in, which I thought was a bit steep if all you got was to sit and look. But it was actually quite extensive with several floors of museum-like exhibitions and even the chance to climb up the dome (to just below the green part) and walk all the way around outside. It was actually perfect timing too as the 12 o’clock service was ending so I got to hear The Lord’s Prayer in German and some organ music too before climbing to the dome. Here’s one panorama I took:

After the Cathedral, I walked back to the previous church for the organ “recital”. It actually turned out to be the organist taking a small group up to the organ and going into detail about all the inner workings and playing several examples for us. It was much better than any old recital! Luckily she spoke excellent English so I had no trouble understanding. The original organ was built in 1722 and reconstructed in 2002, here’s a picture:

After that, I was pretty frozen and tired (a 4AM start really wears you down!) so I headed back to my hotel. Luckily the restaurant downstairs had schnitzel so I didn’t have to go far for German food!

I spent most of the next morning on Museum Island, seeing the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum. The Pergamon Museum was listed on TripAdvisor as being one of the top things to see in Berlin, but it turned out that most of it was being renovated so there wasn’t too much to see. I did find one interesting thing in the Neues Museum though, from a display case about the Vikings:

Hey, I know that place!

From my googling, it seems that Torna härad was a region in Skåne, the county that Lund is in. Guess I was lucky to find that in a giant museum! After I officially had a case of museum back, I left museum island and headed in the direction of the Brandenburg Gate. I stopped off at Tränenpalast to see the free exhibit. It was actually pretty extensive and similar to the DDR museum, and it was in the same actual building. After I had warmed up a bit in the building I headed back out to walk towards the Brandenburg Gate again. I actually made it, too! (For some reason I decided I really like panoramas this weekend.)

I then walked over to see the Reichstag and Bundestag before jumping into the subway station to keep from freezing.

(Now is a good time to listen to Germany’s excellent national anthem)

The Berlin public transport system is a bit confusing to a newcomer, so it only took me backtracking once and changing trains twice to make it back to my hotel. After a quick dinner (of Vietnamese Bánh Mì) it was time to head to the Berlin Philharmonic! For some reason I selfishly thought that the pre-concert talk would be in English, so I showed up in time for that. As I sat down it finally dawned on me, and I really had no idea what the guy at the podium was talking about. Anyway. The concert featured Martha Argerich (one of the finest living pianists) who I have wanted to see for quite some time as well as Riccardo Chailly conducting. Martha Argerich is 73 years old and could stop touring soon so I figured I should take advantage of it! It turns out I enjoyed the first piece they played the most. Here’s yet another panorama (I have a problem) of my view:

I swear more people showed up!

Sunday was unfortunately mostly filled with doing some work for my class the next day. It’s my Africa class with like five people so I couldn’t really show up without doing some work (though I usually continue to be clueless even after reading). BUT! I did get to have coffee and catch up with my friend Hannah (woo, shoutout) who is doing her exchange in Berlin! Later I did figure out the bus back to the airport and managed to make it back home even having to run through the streets of Lund with a backpack (nobody looks cool doing that) and handbag to catch the last bus to my corridor. The excitement never ends!

In other news, I got my stitches out today! The hand is healing nicely. Off to Norway on Thursday.