(Note: The following post describes details from a previous trip, NOT a current trip.)
Wednesday, September 12th.
Today, I’m hoping to make a go of Museum Island – specifically, the German Historical Museum, as recommended by my walking tour guide from Sunday.
But I have a bit of a slow start – I think I’ve hit my personal wall, and have realized that I’m supposed to be on vacation and need to SLOW. DOWN.
I eventually make it down to the museum by noon and start from the beginning, sans audioguide.
Here’s the problem with me, when I visit museums: I still haven’t mastered the art of efficient museum-visiting. I somehow have this annoying inclination to look at everything – every single cup, armband, plate and sword.
So my intention to breeze through the entire building – or at least, the main wing – turns into a huge time-sucking exercise, which only lands me somewhere around 1830 before I decide to put an end to my visit.
I go to the museum café for a sit-down and a pastry. At first, no one so much as gives me a menu to peruse – and the café isn’t even all that full. So I move from the four-seater to the closest table for two – right in front of the glass case filled with case, and the cash register.
A floppy-haired, moustachioed server comes up to me and says, “Tach!” which startles me. I’ve no idea what my face looks like to the server, but I’m hazzarding a guess that my eyes may have opened to twice their size, and I’m possibly sporting the blankest expression I’ve ever worn since my vacation began.
The server says it again. If the bewilderment on my face was slight before, it’s on full display now.
He finally ends my suffering by explaining it’s some type of casual greeting, to which I was supposed to have replied, “One beer, please”, in German. Sadly the moment’s wasted on me, since my language skills are non-existent; I awkwardly ask for a hot chai and a piece of cake.
By the time I emerge from the museum, I realize I don’t have enough time to visit the Pergamon Museum, which was my other goal for the day.
So instead, I wander over to the DDR Museum – an interesting and (in my opinion, almost absurd) look into life for East Germans under the Iron Curtain.
This museum is a bit nuts. EVERYTHING – from the fashion, to specifically-made products, to when (and HOW) East Germans vacationed (which includes a diorama-display of naked miniatures), makes the impression these people were under … almost surreal.
And to think: this went on for decades. And it didn’t even end all that long ago, if you think about it.
My museum-seeing day done, I go to meet fellow Fat-Tire tourist Joanna in another part of town – we’re going to try some currywurst and some (apparently) good falafel.
Before we embark on our evening’s adventures, we stop by Joanna’s vacation rental so she can collect something from her guest room. She’s renting a room in the industrial-looking live/workspace of a German couple. The wife is an interior designer; the husband makes furniture.
The whole scenario is cordial, but absolutely (almost painfully awkward). Me, a complete stranger, waiting for another complete stranger, in the kitchen of complete strangers. We make conversation which, as brief and a bit uncomfortable as it is, is not terrible. We speak about the cycling communities in Berlin and Toronto – the couple says in Berlin’s case, it’s actually becoming a problem (although, I suppose, that perspective all depends on whom you speak to).
I even find out that the wife – when she was in high school – did a student exchange program in Canada. In Brampton. I’m not kidding.
The awkwardness ends when Joanna and I take off, for Curry 36 – said to be one of the best places for the famed currywurst. It’s well worth the trek. It is ONE of the tastiest things I’ve never had. I split one with Joanna, then we go to the falafel stand just feet away, and split a falafel (with no onions). Also very tasty! And not filling, which is a nice feeling.
We take the metro to Revalerstrasse, where the warehouses of RAW are located. Compared to seeing it during the day by bike, it looks a bit daunting/sketchier in the dark. As we get closer, though, we see the glow of lights in various establishments.
The interior, however, is anime-sleek – a bar at one end; tables for dining, and special sections for playing games out in the open … as well as “VIP” rooms for parties, and another room at the far end, specifically with a roundtable for serious gamers – complete with monitors.
On this night, it’s empty, as it’s only mid-week, and we’ve arrived about 40 minutes before closing. So I get a drink for the road and we continue wandering.
We drop in at another bar, where it’s sparsely populated, and the DJ was already spinning. (I couldn’t tell you what genre, to save my life. It could’ve been drum-and-base, for all I know.)
I order another drink, and we take in the scene before us. The place eventually begins to fill with more patrons, all obviously younger than ourselves. Joanna starts getting into the music and starts moving in the corner we’re occupying. Two female Berliners notice Joanna’s jiving, and obviously start making comments about her dancing abilities, amongst themselves. I see this and think it’s not really warranted. But who gives a shit?
I eventually leave my seat and let myself to move to the music. It’s feels like an eternity since I’ve done something familiar that doesn’t require a verbal language. And it feels good. For a while.
We set out for “home”, but discover that the metro has stopped running. So we split a cab and go our separate ways – with Joanna asking me to remember the cab number, just in case anything happens. (Wait – I get, that it’s all about “safety first” and all that … but are cab kidnappings a thing in D.C.?)
It’s a nice evening out, and finally a chance to get a little taste of Berlin’s nightlife during my stay.