Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kaiser Wilhelm Church, Checkpoint Charlie, The Wall and The Ring!!

So, we were on our own on Monday since our friends were headed to work and school.Resized_HPIM4832

We got off the train and passed a small pile of liquor bottles in the snow that looked as though they came from the much maligned hotel mini-bar.  These teeny sized bottles were scattered in snowpiles all over Berlin – though I didn’t see any drunken homeless people to go with them…..I would be remiss not to mention how popular beer is here (even though we don’t drink) and I guess they don’t shy away from the hard liquor either!

Soon enough we did see our real goal, the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.  It was massively bombed during WWII and, instead of being razed to the ground or rebuilt in a fashion such that you would never know it was bombed, they decided to keep the bombed tower as is and make it into a memorial.  In the first photo you see how it used to look and the next four show the current state of the building.  Inside, only the mosaic on the floor seemed untouched. The building is now surrounded by modern office buildings etc…. and a very modern church houses the congregation.  The building is shaped like a pentagon and each side is covered in small stained glass squares – absolutely breathtaking.

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Then we headed to Checkpoint Charlie.  This was the best known area for crossing between East and West Germany during the existence of the wall and was controlled by the Americans.  We saw a remaining chunk of the wall, lots of cheesy tourist offerings and an actor pretending to be a real-live US border patrol soldier. 

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Then it was off to the Eastside Gallery.  This is a large art installation that covers one of the last remaining portions of the original wall.  I loved the art… and another chance to see the oh-so-icy river Spree.

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My favorite was this one – from a Berlin artist (art came from all over)

It means….



Seeing the wall reminded me of the time we saw the wall display in Geneva and the walls between Palestine and Isreal and the walls between Mexico and America.  Even gated communities came to mind. When are we going to get it that walls just aren’t a good way to solve our problems???

Then we headed for lunch and I had an apple strudel (yum) while the kids had sundaes.  We stopped in a grocery store for a few things and I was impressed by the glass jars filled with knockwurst!  Griffin is showing you the drawing he made for Marie.  He also made her 2 other pictures and a few necklaces.  He told me “I love Marie and Marie loves me”

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The final event of the day (before home and bed) was visiting an antique market.  I will give you a bit of the backstory.  During the time I was in college, I one time visited, randomly, an antique shop in South Street.  It had a collection of Resized_HPIM5265beautiful, inexpensive engageResized_HPIM5263ment rings from the era of the 1920’s.  I had never seen anything like them.  The metal was filigreed and the  diamonds were small and the prices were low.  I was told by the proprietor that these were handmade to be beautiful but inexpensive since, during the Depression, there was not a ton of cash for expensive rocks.  I had told André that I liked this style of ring (hint, hint) but he got me a beautiful, more modern style ring instead.    I have had that ring for about 11 years but it is a bit damaged and I haven’t worn it for over a year since I fear losing the diamond.  André told me he wanted to buy me a 20’s ring to  replace it and we’ve been sort of looking around for about a year now.  We thought we might get lucky in Berlin and…. we finally did!  It was affordable and beautiful, and I even haggled them down 20%.  See my new Art Deco look?  I particularly like that the filigree reminds me most of a fleur de lis, an ancient symbol of France and also known to be associated with women’s virtue and spirituality.  That’s me – virtuous and spiritual – ask anyone….

We headed home, passing the classic Vietnam Bistro, the zoo (the entrance reminded me of the Philly zoo), a guy who showed us his rat and returning on the (lucky day) double decker bus!

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