Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Berlin Part 3, or, Sharks Are Not Confined to the Water Anymore

I planned out my attack beforehand. Because of the late check-out, I had until 4 pm and then had to catch a train at 4:16 back to Lueneburg in order to not walk back alone in the dark.

My choice of poison: the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island (which has five other museums as well), because I'd read that it had the Ishtar Gate and I'm really into pretty ancient things. Which is good, because it is chock full of things . You get a pair of headphones and guide once you tell the nice ladies what language you need, so you an key in the exhibits and actually figure out what's going on. It's nice, after a string of places where I haven't been able to read signs.

The first thing you see when you enter is a giant Greek altar. In fact, it's a good thing the talking headphone will tell you it's an altar, because  altars are to this thing what doghouses are to Bill Gates' house.

You learn about its history the art of it/the statues/the reliefs/everything, and you can walk up the steep stairs to the top, which has an actual altar in a courtyard-type thing. Seriously, ancient Greece, maybe a bit of overkill. There's also a mosaic, which is supremely detailed and made of the tiniest little pieces ever, which makes the art student in my wince because how long did that take?

I'll try not to dwell too long on everything, because what it amounts to is a bunch of very old stone things, along with some pottery. Once you're done with Greece, you can see similar things (in that they're very old stone things) from Syria, the collection of a German whose life's love and work was this excavation site. He'd had a private museum, which was hit by a bomb during WWII. That which wasn't destroyed in that was by fire. If not by fire, then by the ham-handed fire-quenching efforts. If not by that, then by people moving them after all of that. (Basically, karma really hated either the German guy or Syria did some seriously bad stuff back in the day.)

To illustrate exactly how bad it was (and how puzzle champions have nothing on archeologists), see this:

Obviously the smooth part in front isn't original. Either those parts were completely destroyed or just haven't been pieced back together yet., but the rest? Devilry, I can only assume.

Then I did the rest of the museum backwards because the map assumes that the ancient-broken-things exhibit is the last one you'll do, and I fail at reading maps so I did everything else backwards. Including the ISHTAR GATE:
It is big. And blue. And pretty.

An Islamic art exhibit:

 (Everything's so intricate!)
And more on ancient Babylon:
(Did anyone else make these in the sixth grade? Mine had horses.)

The rest of the day is pictureless, which isn't a disappointment unless you really want pictures of a German flea market. The only exciting thing that happened was that I had to dodge the street sharks on my way to the hotel, which is what I called the trams. They're like trains, in the streets, and they are electric and therefore silent until two inches behind you and I'm pretty sure the drivers have a daily competition to see who can kill the most tourists.

 Berlin was a very different city than what I'm used to, because so much of it has had to be reconstructed, but I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. When I get the chance to go back, I'm definitely hitting a bunch of places I went on the bike tour, like St. Hedwig's Cathedral, and maybe even doing a more specific bike tour. There were a ton of museums I didn't get to see--the Neues Musuem, with the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, the DDR museum about daily like in East Germany, the museum at Checkpoint Charlie documenting failed and successful escapes, and more.

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