Unbeknownst to either Brad or me, daylight savings hit Berlin today. Were it not for the inexplicable talents of my computer, I would probably still think it was an hour later than it "actually" is (what is actual, anyway?). That, however, is not very important, as it is a sleepy Sunday of laundry and cranked-up radiators. It's as good a day as any for an extra hour.
The last week was busy with work and friends in town (both of which are still current events). A strange fog moved into the city and riled up my sinuses, so I'm glad for a couple days of home-bound tasks and reading. (I've been reading the Pulitzer-Prize winning book Middlesex, which, despite my misgivings, is very well-written). And, of course, now I have time for you.
I've got a couple weeks to tell you about, don't I? Alright then.
Two weekends ago, Brad and I went to a town called Leipzig. Anyone been there? I see some hands.
It was a small town, at least compared to Berlin. A university town, I couldn't tell if their "Stamp out White Power" march (or whatever it was called) was for or against the aforementioned Power. I almost thought it was a party of soccer houligans. That aside, though, it was a very picturesque little community with an obsession with Bach and shopping.
Leipzig's Stasi Museum occupied the building that was formerly the Stasi headquarters. Though I have no photos of it, it smelled funny in there. It was cold, white and cubic. Aside from that, though, Leipzig was grand and friendly. The narrow cobblestone streets almost always gave way to unexpected and lovely structures, and the people were jolly. The "new" parliament building was storybook-worthy (except for the modern rust of electricity and gas in the foreground).
We only spent two days there, but that was pretty much enough. It was very charming, but I was glad to return to Berlin. The longer I'm here, the more at home I feel, and there's nothing to emphasize that like going away and coming back. To amplify that sensation even more, the bizarre but awesome October Lights festival went on here for two weeks, and it was worth fighting the cold for. Crowds of people roamed the city with tripods and friends and snapped pictures of already-eerie building with even more eerie lights cast on them. Here is the Berliner Dom with the TV Tower in the background:
And the Brandenburger Tor:
While I'm not always impressed by the Brandenburger Gate's appearance, I am impressed by the fact that Napoleon dragged the chariot on top all the way to France, and that it was then dragged all the way back. There is a distracting amount of construction going on around the Gate, and that sort of dampens its magnificence, as well. All of Berlin is a construction zone.
We took the opportunity, given the nighttime sight-seeing, to actually go into the Reichstag. It only took a half an hour waiting in the cold, rather than two or more hours like it can sometimes take, and I suppose it was worth it. The inside of it has been well-documented by any and all travel books about Berlin and/or current German parliament, but it's irresistible, once you're inside. It's like every person thinks "I can take THE defining picture of this, I just know it". Here was my attempt:
OK, it's a little blurry, and the eagle is visible but not detailed, and the flag is present but a little stick-like, but hey. I gave it a shot. The walk to the top had made me a little woozy, anyway. Not usually afraid of heights, there was something about the spiral march to the top of the dome that gave me a touch of vertigo. It was awesome.
And now, it'll be a pretty standard week. Maybe a couple hours of struggling to get a tax-id number, a sum of a few hours on the train to various works and back, and, with any luck, sufficient sleep. Should be pretty uneventful. The constantly-running CNN International being broadcast into my living room will bring me excitement enough - you know, fires in California, flooding in the Congo, Putin, the frenzy of hopeful Democratic presidential candidates. (It turns out that CNN International is much better than its domestic counterpart, thank heavens). Hope all is well elsewhere.