Day 13 Berlin : A World Class City for Museums
We couldn't have asked for a nicer day in Berlin today. The sun was out, the temperature was in the 70's, and with low humidity it was a great day for exploring.
Near our hotel are some interesting alleys leading to courtyards with wonderful stores tucked within the walls. In the former East Berlin the crossing lights showed a red man standing with his arms out at his sides for stop and a green man wearing a hat who is walking for go. Known as Ampelmann, it is now so popular that many of the new crossing lights show Ampelmann and there are entire stores dedicated to him that sell everything from sweatshirts to cookie cutters.
Today was a day for museums. The Neues Museum was constructed in the mid 1800's. The building suffered severe damage during WW11 and after being closed for 70 years, reopened in 2009. We saw a magnificent Egyptian exhibit of artifacts. I was really struck by how beautifully everything was displayed. Each case looked like a treasure chest with tiny lights to provide perfect illumination. The highlight was the world famous bust of Queen Nefertiti placed in a room under a dome. It was exquisite.
Next door is the Pergamonmuseum. What was inside was astounding. The main attraction is the Pergamon Altar (180-160 BCE).
Next was the Market Gate of Miletus from the 2nd century CE.
The third incredible exhibit was the colorful Ishtar Gate and processional way from Babylon dating back to the 6th century BCE. It was massive and reached high into a room purposely built for it. Beside the room was a long processional wall with lions.
We also visited a Mesopotamian exhibit with cuneiform tablets. I loved this exhibit because we have taught about Ancient Mesopotamia at school.
In the evening we visited an unusual laundromat. It had state of the art Miele machines, but to operate them required knowledge of an elaborate central computerized control panel that no one could figure out so the two owners were in perpetual motion helping everyone. When our wash was about done, I noticed what appeared to be a Kleenex in the machine, but upon closer inspection, to my horror I realized it was one of two ceramic dogs I had bought in Denmark and had wrapped in a shirt to protect. It was smashed. When it was time to dry the clothes, many young people from a local hostel appeared and became very impatient for a dryer. The whole scene reminded me of college dorm days. When I saw someone eyeing my dryer, I indicated to him I still had 6 minutes to finish drying one last shirt, but he would have none of it and the dryer was quickly flung open and the shirt thrust at me!
Dinner tonight was by candlelight in the courtyard of our hotel. We have had a wonderful time in Berlin and hope to return here soon. Tomorrow we head to Croatia!