I spent nearly a week alone in Berlin except for my friend Nino (the dog). It was cold and gray, but now that it’s been a few days since I’ve left the city I’m really missing the train rides, quiet happiness and politeness of the people, tasty street food, flea markets, the musical flow of ladies conversing in German and wandering a new city with all of the freedom in the world. I wonder what Berlin is like in the summer?
Besides the performances I mentioned earlier, I also went to Easter service at Berliner Dom, where they performed Bach’s Cantata BWV 4. I also met up with some friends-of-friends who showed me the excellent bar Das Gift and took me to a club called Farbfernseher (Color TV) known for it’s house music, where the ceiling had started to crumble in the coat check due to the dancing above. I didn’t stay very long because I know I live in Chicago, but I’m just not that into “deep house” music. I sadly didn’t get to see any noisy bands while in Berlin.
I highly recommend Mauer Park Flea Market on Sundays and a trip to the gourmet foods floor of KaDeWe. I spent an hour there looking in every cheese and bakery case and having a glass of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. I also fawned over the adorable Steiff stuffed animals while laughing at myself—wouldn’t most grown women be interested in shoes or clothes rather than toys?
I hit many of the major historical sites which were helpful in getting to know the geography of the city. Topography of Terror held much impact, especially due to it’s location. Reichstag’s audio tour was very informative and interesting, though it was a bit cold in the open-air dome at 8 in the morning. Getting up so early allowed me to see the Brandenburg Gate with almost no one in the street!
I had one day to spend with my hosts (they were on holiday, hence the dogsitting) and Axel took me on a fascinating drive through the East side of Berlin through Kreuzberg, past the East Side Gallery, over the Oberbaumbrucke bridge and into the wide streets with Stalinist architecture. I stopped at Alexanderplatz where an Easter market was in full-swing and I was able to eat my first Berliner. As my brother says, it was “bomb.”
The only disappointment I suffered was at the Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum, where I had an adverse reaction to almost every piece except this tiny sculpture. I was in a bad mood that day, with sore feet and quickly felt better after leaving the high art alone and having a sausage from a street vendor and buying some sneakers and a figurine for my mum.
I can see why many artists and musicians choose to live and work in Berlin. Although I was on vacation, I felt a sense of quality and balance between art and life in the city. There are so many things happening and it’s so easy to get around. I hope to get back soon—maybe performing next time.
Here are two shaky videos I made: riding the U Bahn from Grunewald and the Easter Bells at Berliner Dom (recorded this for the sound).