Gone to the West Side
Today was a quiet day, a stay-in day, but we've been mostly roaming as much as possible. We went to the requisite tourist attraction that is the square kilometer that holds the Brandenburg Gate (of "Tear this wall down" Reagan fame) and the Reichstag.* There were the requisite tourists, the expected crowds. Hilariously enough, we forgot the camera that day. No worries. We'll go back, many times I'm sure.
We did, thankfully, not forget the camera when we visited the Schloss Charlottenburg in the western district of Charlottenburg. Brad took this amazing picture.
Just look at it. Let it soak in. In the expansive gardens surrounding this palace, there were people practicing martial arts, people speaking Russian, old women sitting on benches, and tons of banana slugs. Actually there are banana slugs everywhere here.
We saw, too, the broken and burned Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche. It was built in the last decade of the 19th century and almost destroyed in the middle of the 20th. Now it stands in the midst of a commercial district full of street vendors, designer stores and flashing cameras, kitty corner from the infamous Erotic Museum (which was very interesting to visit but not particularly erotic to the non-trench-coat crowd). Despite the tawdry surrounding, though, the church still looms with austerity.
Later that day we saw a different sort of monument, one about which I was less than delighted.
Germany recently had a tussle with the Scientologists, so I'm surprised that they would have such a huge building in the center of Berlin. They're nothing if not stubborn.
And, as I said, today was a quiet day. I did, however, manage to go to a bakery all by myself and order some pastries and pay, all without saying "Wie, bitte?" (Rough translation: I'm sorry, I'm stunted). That was quite satisfying. Mostly I allow Brad to do the talking because, a) he speaks more German than I do, and b) he looks more German than I do. This has resulted in generally clean interactions, with the occasional compliment to his accent and one strange instance of someone accusing him of being Austrian, and therefore slow. It was both an insult and a compliment, I suppose.
Finally, on a personal and domestic note, I have killed absolutely none of the plants that we are now living with. My involvement with them has been limited but ten days in my company usually converts plants to compost, at best. I'm on a roll.
*We went to the Berlin Airlift Museum the other day, which is where I learned about how apparently important that Reagan speech was. It was being played on a continuous loop; it didn't bring tears to my eyes. It was, however, a fascinating museum.