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25 July 2015

Berlin, day 2 of 3

sunny
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The next day began with another stroll. On Museum Island, we went through a street market. At the entrance to the market, several of the cement blocks (holding up street lights or whatever) were graffiti'd (?) with quotations.

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A most interesting vendor. Note the selection of items: Russian clothing and uniforms, gas masks, and an American flag. (That's the Bode Museum in the background, one of five world-class museums on Museum Island.)
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One of my favorite street musicians of the entire trip.

This guy was fabulous! If you peruse my full set of photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/43163337@N02/ you may notice that there are several shots of street musicians. (And horses. And doors.) This is because, in my fantasy future, I will travel extensively and write a book about street musicians around the world. Since it’s unlikely—haha, impossible—that some publisher is going to front me the money to conduct this research, the best I can do is take a few photos/videos of the musicians and give them some coins. How I would love to interview them and ask their stories. “Tell me about your musical life… were you trained formally? Do you perform anywhere else? How long have you been working on the streets? How does your city treat you? Will you do this forever?”

Later, the full group headed to Checkpoint Charlie.

You are entering the American sector--to confirm, look at the soldier on the sign.
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You are leaving the American sector--to confirm, look at the soldier on the sign.
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The booth is a reproduction of the actual Checkpoint Charlie booth (original is in the nearby museum). The "soldiers" are there to take pictures with tourists--for a fee. I found this a little too celebrational-feeling for my taste. They play their part well, however--when we students posed for a photo under the nearby “You are leaving the American sector” sign, Dr. Scott and her sister were somewhat near the "soldiers" to frame the shot. The "soldiers" were quite surly; they had a few words with Dr. Scott. I’m not sure what their problem was, but they were definitely rude.

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Lunch was currywurst. It had no taste, but I could tell that was because it came from a horrible touristy location. It was pretty much a large hot dog.

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By going for lunch, I got separated from the group, so the rest of the day I just explored on my own.

From the Checkpoint Charlie museum. This photo is everywhere in Berlin, and I didn't know what it meant, so I snapped a photo of this display, which includes an explanation. It's Brezhnev (Soviet leader) and Honecker (East German leader) on the 30th Anniversary of the founding of East Germany. It's called the Fraternal Kiss, acknowledging that the relationship was tremulous and dangerous. The caption quotation is: "Lord! Help me survive this deadly love!"
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Amusing trash can.
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A large section of the wall that still stands. This is where the SS was headquartered; it is now a memorial and documentation center, titled the Topography of Terror. http://www.topographie.de/en/
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Berlin has many faces, many facets.
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Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The graveyard-esque memorial is 4.7 acres of confusion. It's not a maze, but the rows of concrete slabs are uneven in height and ground slope, creating an uneasy atmosphere amongst an otherwise orderly location. What remains of Hitler's bunker is in the far left corner of this picture, still controversial and relatively unmarked.
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My first glimpse of the American Embassy, its flag at half-staff. You can see the edge of some of the concrete slabs from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the foreground.
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I fell in love with Brandenburg Gate. Something about its majestic structure and reminders of peace really appealed to me--particularly the statue of Mars sheathing his sword.
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The Room of Silence is a thing of beauty as it attempts to shut out the noise of the world outside and remind its visitors of the original intention of the Gate of Peace.
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I stood for a while inside Pariser Platz, just enjoying the atmosphere. Even amongst the chaos that can be found in any heavily-trafficked area on a sunny summer Saturday, there was an air of jubilance. The bagpipe musicians played for money, sure, but their tunes were appropriate; "Amazing Grace" would transition to a jig without feeling awkward. The flags of the Allied nations whose embassies line Pariser Platz all flew proudly in the breeze; silent partners in peace and cooperation. I took a moment to take a video, doing a 360 of Pariser Platz beginning and ending at the American Embassy.

It was almost evening and my toes hurt, but there was still so much to see!

The Reichstag. You can barely see the dome from this angle. We'd hoped to be able to climb it, but it's difficult to arrange.
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In Bebelplatz, a memorial to the book-burning event of May 10, 1933. The Nazis burned about 20,000 books that day; the memorial is empty bookshelves, enough to hold 20,000 books. It's underground, viewed through a window in the ground in the middle of the platz.
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My dinner that night was another attempt at currywurst. The older Asian man running the place (a tavern across the street from our hotel) was quite intriguing; just one of those people who inspired me to wonder what their story is. Writing about him would take up another whole post; it's enough here to say that this currywurst was much better than lunch. :)
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Posted by OhMissLia 08:51 Archived in Germany Tagged germany berlin summer_2015 25_july Comments (0)

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