(Note: The following post describes details from a previous trip, NOT a current trip.)
Thursday, September 13th.
I start the day a bit out of sorts, which is usually what happens the day before I have to travel anywhere. What it is exactly, I can’t really put my finger on. A sense of resignation? A heightened sense of melancholy/loneliness? I’ve no clue.
I begin my sightseeing on a sober note, at the information centre for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I have plans to also go to the Topography of Terror. But once inside the visitors’ centre, it’s probably best that things don’t work out that way.
I spend a lot of time in here, and it’s not time that’s wasted. Just reading the stories of families who were almost entirely wiped out – or completely eliminated – not only eresonat with me, but seem hard to fathom.
I see reproductions of letters written to loved ones and colleagues … names of those whose fate was tragic … hearing recollections of experiences … all are quite jarring. What perhaps holds my attention more than anything else, is seeing names and hearing voices of some of the individuals who survived.
Following the visit to the centre, I collect my thoughts nearby over a currywurst lunch, then hustle off to the Pergamonmuseum. This museum essentially houses fragments and reproduced parts of a specific ancient Roman settlement in a region of what is now Turkey.
It’s certainly interesting. But perhaps my mistake is trying to take on the special exhibitions. This eats up SO much time, I don’t have enough time to see what I REALLY came here for: the Near East and Islamic exhibitions, which I hear are absolute must-sees.
I get as far as the artifacts from Babylon, before I decide I’m too overwhelmed, and I call it a day. And with good reason – I just found out the day before that a travelling friend, Jeremy – whom I met in Spain five years ago – just happens to be in Berlin with his boyfriend. They’re staying in Kreuzberg, and just arrived the week before.
We arrange to meet at Alexanderplatz; Jeremy directs me to meet him under “the big world clock”. Now, keep in mind I’ve criss-crossed that open public space around the train station a handful of times over the past few days, and for the life of me, I CANNOT picture this clock.
So, of COURSE I walk around and around and AROUND, and I can’t find it. And because I can’t get my German SIM card to work (and my phone battery is almost drained) I return to the flat to get some WiFi and message Jeremy to tell him that, well, I can’t find him.
Eventually we figure it out, and I meet Jeremy and Mark on the S-Bahn platform. We take the metro to Fredrichstrasse and find a restaurant along the same strip I’d visited with Jennifer from New York. This time, we pick the Indian restaurant a couple doors down from that Cuban restaurant.
Even though it’s brief, it’s simply great to see someone I recognize – one of the small beauties about travel I cherish and appreciate.
We walk back to Alexanderplatz, passing a string of prostitutes – all in similar outfits, as if it’s some sort of regulatory “uniform”. (Not that I’ve never seen prostitutes in other places, but it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen them on my trip.)
After getting me back to my neighbourhood, we all part ways, and I return to the flat to putter around and pack again, for my next – and last – destination.