Monday, July 26, 2010

German Blog interrupted for one week to rehearse for the feature "WE WERE VAMPIRE". :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 19 – 6-10-10 - W. BERLIN

W. BERLIN – Reichstag “Beehive” Dome – Brandenburg Gate – Chocolate Store (Fascbender & Rausch) – Checkpoint Charlie Museum
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Woke from an interesting story-dream so turned on the PC and typed it up before getting dressed. The hotel has automatic lights in the hall that come on as you walk. Our bathroom has a "sanitary" toilet, that will only flush, with a really loud, electric humming sound, when the lid is down. These toilets suck.
Lightly overcast this morning, but it burned off and just got too hot again. In the afternoon, the light overcast returned, trapping the heat. Blech!

WEST BERLIN

REICHSTAG & "THE BEEHIVE" – originally built -1894; burned – 1933, rebuilt – 1998
The Reichstag is the German parliament building – like our Capital in D.C.
When it burned in 1933 Hitler blamed the Soviets, but most suspect the Nazis framed them to grab power.
It was hardly used from 33-95, then covered in a tarp & scaffolding while being rebuilt into what we see today.
Visitors line up outside, waiting to be admitted. They let people go through the doors once the group before has been totally cleared and is past security. So we waited, right at the door, for 10-15 minutes.
Once the guard opened the sliding glass door, we waited to get through a second sliding glass door. All bags and purses are X-rayed, and everyone walks through a metal detector.
Warm inside. No air conditioning. So far NO buildings in Berlin have air conditioning. Like walking around in an attic. Miserable for everyone. Stupid.
Entry is free for everyone, and we snagged an audio guide (that automatically started playing once we started walking up the dome ramp). Took a crowded elevator up to….


THE DOME – 1998
155 feet high; 40,000 meters of glass; 360 mirrors in the center section, 755 foot ramp spirals up to the top.

Light shines through all the "bee-hive" dome windows (bright and hot). We could view the roof and city from inside the dome.

As we walked back down the dome ramp, I photographed downward views, which included German Parliament, in session.

We walked out on the top of the roof. I checked my watch, before saying "Good morning," in German to a guard. He was chatty (probably bored), and didn’t speak English. He asked where we're from and how long we're in Germany and Berlin. We talked about the hot weather and he let us know there's a wonderful pool in Berlin.
Back inside, we had to wait, in the heat, for the elevator to arrive. The trip down wasn't as crowded. Again, we had to wait in front of the glass doors before we were allowed outside.


BRANDENBURG GATE (taken from the W. Berlin side), plus photos and text from a few posters by the gate.
Walked freely through the gate to…

EAST BERLIN
Like yesterday, during our walking tour, we were "attacked" by young gypsy girls asking, "Speak English?" So annoying. (We were told to ignore them completely. Yesterday, our tour guide warned everyone about them and that the best response was "No, I don't speak English," but I didn't even acknowledge their presence. If you talk to them, then they immediately try to sell you something and you waste time trying to be polite about turning them away. I wonder what their lives are like, at home.
We wandered into a souvenir shop and bought post cards – photos of bombed buildings, the burned out church, a few aerial views of the Holocaust Memorial, and a close up of the chariot on top of the Brandenburg Gate taken right beside it, from the roof.
HOT and stuffy. No air conditioning anywhere. Don't know how people bear it.
Matt waited in line to snag us sandwiches and icy cold water. I collapsed at a table, suffering from heat exhaustion. If my body is too hot for too long, without some relief from an icy drink or AC, I overheat. Matt calls me a “lizard” because I heat up and freeze so fast as a result of the surrounding temperature. Can’t help it. Really frustrating.
Feet throbbing (woke with them still hurting from yesterday), hot, breathing hot air, and inside wasn't any cooler, just stuffy. I wanted to burst into tears. Put my arms on a tall table and put my head down. Matt asked if I was ok and left the backpack so I could have some water. I told him I was just hanging on. Then I focused hard and pulled myself together.
Saw they had sandwiches. Matt snagged me a chicken sandwich (with deep fried chicken, which seems the main way poultry is served here) and an icy cold bottle or water "natural" – not mineral. I needed help getting the bottle open and then, relief! It was SO GOOD.
Matt snagged a large pastry and we sat in the back of the restaurant, which was more bearable once I sucked down some of the cold water. Needed to eat too. Slowly felt myself coming back to life as I downed the food and cold liquid my body needed.


POSTSDAMEN PLATZ "Parisian Square" – subway station
After Prussians defeated Napoleon, it was again filled with govt. buildings, which were bombed to smithereens in WWII. The Germans were unable to rebuild No Mans Land until the Wall fell. The banks, hotels, and embassies were put in exactly the same places they were in before WWII.

WEST BERLIN
Matt walked into a building, which I assumed was the Checkpoint Charlie museum (our next destination, or so he’d told me), but once I walked in, I immediately knew it was the ….



CHOCOATE STORE – FASCBENDER & RAUSCH
Claims to be Europe's biggest choc. store. 250 kinds of chocolates in a 55 foot long buffet. Family owned for 150 years. Along with an incomprehensible variety of chocolate, there are enormous choc. sculptures – The Reichstag, the Titanic, the super tall TV tower, a two foot high volcano that erupts choc. (took a video) every three seconds, a four foot high "Berlin Bear", etc.


I took pictures (they don't mind, even if you don’t buy chocolate), then asked Matt where the liquor filled chocolates were. He pointed it out and helped me translate what was in each choloate. We selected 5-6 and ate them as soon as we got outside (so hot, they were already melting). Matt would bite a chocolate in half, then hand the rest over to me. Some were better than others, as in “WOW” verses “not bad”.
Finally, we arrived at the…..

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE MUSEUM – MUSEUM OF THE WALL AT CHECKPOINT CHARLIE
When the Wall was up, each gate between East and West Berlin was given a letter – A, B, C, D, etc. In the military, to clarify letters, the military uses a word the the letter it starts with – “Alpha” gate was at the East-West German border, “Beta” as you enter Berlin proper, “Charlie,” “Delta,” etc.
The “Charlie” gate was used more than the rest, allowing foreigners in and out, with Americans on one side of the gate and East Berlin Germans on the other. It became known as "Checkpoint Charlie." (The German side was WAY more intimidating. Longer, multiple places with guards – really nasty.)

The museum was created by someone who wanted to make sure Germans never forgot how awful conditions were when the Wall went up. It existed long before The Wall fell, and stood right next to the E. Berlin boarder guards. Drove them crazy, but there wasn’t anything they could do. The museum was a real eye opener about how loved ones were separated and risked their lives to be reunited in West Berlin. They came up with many clever methods of escaping.



Before people exit the museum, the final exhibit is a car that’s black outside and inside. Visitors are invited to try and find the person hidden in it. Matt patted the front seats, and checked everywhere. I laid down and looked under the car. Someone finally found that the passenger seat was dug out and the black cover was over the mannequin (representing the real woman who escaped E. Berlin with her boyfriend).
I couldn't believe the heat. There were 3 floors, each hotter than the last. Matt and I wandered separately, though when I finally went upstairs, Matt led me to the two most spectacular hiding place exhibits. Then we went downstairs and finally to the cooler first floor (probably "only" in the 80 degree range). I felt better about being so uncomfortably hot when I noticed the guy behind the counter was also dragging from the heat. It's too hot for everyone, even the natives. Crazy not to have air conditioning!

Matt snagged me another cold bottle of water from somewhere, which helped, then we walked around the block to an ice cream store and I got a scoop of mango and one of passion fruit. Sat on chairs outside the little shop and ate.
Another gypsy approached us. We ignored her. She saw the brochure, in English, sticking out of Matt's shirt pocket, and knew we did indeed speak English. She had a bag of water bottles. Matt lifted my empty water bottle and finally got her to leave us alone.
Walked into the blissfully cool subway (no A.C., just underground). Could not believe how crowded the train was. Insane! 2:30, and we were packed tightly in the super hot, stuffy air. It was frigging awful. I didn't faint, but only because I worked at it. The trip went on and on and on and the air was so hot and there wasn’t even room to even drink water. It was probably a 15 minute trip.
After getting off the subway, I collapsed into a seat. Matt sat beside me and handed me a bottle of water. He drank from the other one (and offered to buy me a bottle of cold water, but what we had did the trick).
The walk back to the hotel seemed to take forever. Matt went to the store for food and a beer while I took a lovely cool shower (and washed my flip-flops again). Ah! Better! Charged my camera battery, wrote a list of what to work on today. Started on today's Diary and Matt arrived with food (including more of the crunchy-chewy candies we enjoyed).
We ate, read, rested. I told Matt not walking as fast as him, getting too hot, and failing in any way to match or meet his own abilities and expectations makes me feel like a failure as a wife. I’m not good enough for him. It doesn’t make his life better. He denied I had an adverse affect on him. How did I get such an amazing husband?
Matt asked me to select what to do tomorrow, and so I looked through the chapter on Berlin and picked what sounded most interesting. Matt approved. Worked a bit on today's Diary and then suddenly got super sleepy and had to stop and nap. Damn. Fortunately, I only slept 30 minutes.
Matt went off to snag a hot dog (sliced into little pieces, with ketchup poured over the top, and eaten with a little tiny fork, served with a roll) and I woke myself up and did the rest of Diary for today. When Matt returned, he opened his second little bottle of wine and read on the deck. After Diary, sorted the post cards and stuff we picked up yesterday and today, so they were chronological to things we've seen and been to.
Ate a snack while reading another story.
Stretched calf muscles while Matt was watching TV and then he snagged the computer, so I stretched a few more leg muscles, prepped, and brushed my teeth.
Matt got an email from Mom that she and Dad got back to the U.S. Mom said she and Marlies cried and hugged and hugged and cried goodbye. Tough parting. Everyone knew it would suck.
I got back on the PC at 10:00 pm. Downloaded and sorted today's photos. Went through Rick Steve and added to today's Diary notes. Matt wanted the light out and it was nearly 11:30, so I backed up the most important stuff and turned out the light.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 18 – 6-9-10 – E. Berlin Walking Tour – Burned Out Church

We got up around 7:00. Nice variety of food, including a star fruit (cut up to decorate, but I snagged the slices and ate them – Mmmm). I also had 3 hard boiled eggs, cereal, and a super treat – mandarin orange slices in Jello with an inch of custard on top which had a single, fancy piece of choc. in it. I mixed it all up and ate it. Delicious!
Met a couple from Wisconsin and told them I'd be performing in their state in Feb.
We prepped to get ready to go and I stretched my tight muscles while Matt checked email.

BERLIN HISTORY
Berlin (means "swamp") started out as two little villages. It was founded in 1287.
In 1600's the canal brought trade and the Hohenzollern family became powerful and started ruling.
Berlin was where they (the royal family) lived.
1871 – Germany was founded and Berlin became the capital.
1914 – WWI
1920's - Treaty of Versailles divided Germany
In 1923 German marks lost value hourly, so people spent it as soon as they got it, which is how
Friedrichestreit turned brothels and cabarets into the most expensive shops in Berlin.
1930's - Democracy wasn't working out. This allowed Hitler to rise to power and generated
WWII. 90% of Berlin was bombed.
After the war, the Allies split Germany and Berlin into 4 pieces.
When the Soviets blockaded W. Berlin, trying to get them to submit, the Berlin Airlift dropped
food and supplies every 3 minutes.
W. Berlin said if an E. Berlin citizen put one foot in W. Berlin, they'd become a W. Berlin citizen.
Masses of people escaped to W. Berlin (which comprised of barbed wire).
1961 - The Wall was “enhanced” with something harder to get through, like cement.
1990 – Germany reunited.

Park land is filled with trees that belonged to royalty.
World's 2nd biggest mall in E. Berlin contains "Matt's” sausage store.
(We didn’t have time to visit it though.)
Zoo – First in Germany. Has most species in one place in the world. Has a 2 year old polar bear who was orphaned, raised by the zoo, and became the Berlin mascot. (Didn’t see it either.)
The Potsdamen Palace is 70% reconstructed (after WWII bombing)


EAST BERLIN WALKING TOUR

BERLIN CATHEDRAL – original built in 1905 – dome restored

NEW NATIONAL GALLERY – original 1860's – rebuilt 1970's

TV TOWER ANTENA – built in late 1969
1,200 feet tall (tallest spire in Berlin). Built to celebrate the communist govt. and show the power of the state. At the time, the govt. was removing crosses from all the churches around town. The architect retaliated by designing the huge mirrored ball on the spire so it reflects a huge cross when sun shines on it. Nicknamed, "The Pope's Revenge."

BRIDGE TO MUSEUM ISLAND – mid-1800's
The island originally housed Berlin's first museum. Currently the museums are undergoing internal renovation (supposed to be done in 2015).

SYNAGOGUE DOME – original - 1860's – Dome & fa├žade rebuilt in 1990
Oldest, finest synagogue in Berlin. Desecrated by Nazis in 1938. Bombed in 1943.

OLD MUSEUM – 1830's – photographed back & front.

NEW PALACE (being built now) & OLD PALACE (built in 1600's, bombed in WWII)
Currently just pictures on material hanging by construction site.

RED TOWN HALL – E. GERMAN CITY HALL – built in late 1800's – rebuilt post WWII

GERMAN HISTORY MUSEUM – original 1695 - rebuilt 1960's
Oldest building on the boulevard. Was the Royal Arsenal or "Zeughaus". After the war, the weapons were removed. Contains 8000 artifacts from German history – starting at 1 B.C.

NEW GUARDHOUSE MEMORIAL –built in early 1816 – rebuilt 1990's
After Berlin Wall fell, turned into memorial. Tomb of Germany's unknown soldier and concentration camp victim. Statue is replica of Kathe Kollwtz's "Mother with Her Dead Son". Her son was killed in WWI and grandson killed in WWII. She died towards the end of WWII as well. The sculpture originated as a very small piece.
The mother is supposed to be a universal symbol (not someone specific). The figure of a mother holding her dying son is similar to the Pieta, done by Michelangelo and located in St. Peter's Basilica depicting Mary holding Jesus.
The dome has an open circle directly over the statue that allows sun, rain, snow, etc. change how the statue looks (and feels). Plaque says, "To the victims of war and tyranny"

STATE OPERA HOUSE – built 1743, rebuilt 1850's, bombed in 1941, rebuilt in 1943, bombed in 1945

HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY – built in mid-1700's – repaired in 1950's
Marx, Lenin, brothers Grimm, and more than 24 Nobel Prize winners studied here. Einstein taught here before teaching in Princeton in 1932. (He left a year before he'd have been thrown in jail and likely killed by the Nazis.)

FREDERICK THE GREAT / FREDERICK II – statue – rebuilt
Ruled Prussia 1740-1786 & est. it's military, intellectual, and cultural might.

OLD LIBRARY – built 1700's – rebuilt now

ST. HEDWIG'S CATHEDRAL – built mid-1700's – rebuilt 1990's.
Nicknamed "The Upside-Down Teacup". Asked how to build it, Frederick the Great slammed a teacup on a table.


BOOK BURNING MONUMENT – 1995
Represents the space it would take to shelve all the books that were burned by the Nazis in the Bebelplatz square in 1933. 20,000 books (like Einstein's) were banned. Universities and students were ordered to toss them in the bonfire. The monument is a white, square room, filled with white, empty shelves, that would hold 20,000 books. Over the top of the room there's a glass window, so people can look down into it.
Near the glass, there's a plaque, with a quote from where Heinrich Heine. In 1820, he wrote, "Where they burn books, in the end, they also burn people." Nazis hated Heine – Jewish before becoming a Christian. His books were among the 20,000.

MANHOLE COVER – city map

E. GERMAN TRAFFIC LIGHT SYMBOLS

RUSSIAN EMBASSY & THE GATE PROTECTING IT – 1950's
The gate is decorated with golden grain (a staple of Russia). The USSR cycle and hammer symbol remains carved over the windows.

GHOST SUBWAY STATION – 1930's
Map of city
Original tiles from 1931.
There are words at a ticket counter that says "Under the Linden Trees" This used to be the name of a famous street, filled with thousands of Linden trees. In the 1400's it went from the king's palace to the hunting grounds. In 1600's powerful people built houses on it to be nearer the king. Hitler replaced the trees with Nazi flagpoles. Some of the trees were 250 years old.
During the Cold War, it was cheaper for W. Berlin to pay E. Berlin to let them run their train straight through E. Berlin (without stopping, on pain of getting shot at, of course), rather than going all the way around. This kept the lines in working order, so after the cold war, they reopened the stations again.

HOTEL ADLON
Didn't take pictures. Destroyed by Russians shortly after WWII ended. Rebuilt in 1996. Only for the richest of the rich clients. There’s a “game” people play, seeing just how far into the hotel they can get before being turned out. These days, it’s best known as the place Michael Jackson dangled his son Blanket from the balcony.


BRANDENBURG GATE – 1791
One of 14 gates in Berlin's old city wall. This one went into the district of Brandonburg.
Built as an arch of peace , crowned by the Goddess of Peace, showing Mars sheathing his sword.
QUADRIA – the chariot statue on top of gate – 1791
Stolen by Napoleon in 1806 and put in the Louvre for 7 years. Prussians defeated him and stole it back, renaming the woman "Goddess of Victory".

DZ BANK WITH ABSTRACT FISH SCULPTURE IN IT
The artist who created the fish wanted it as a stand-alone statue, but was forced to put a wall around it.


RIECHSTAG WITH DOME (known as "the Beehive")
Original building from the 1890's had a dome that was more like the top of a rounded square – with 4 sides.

BRICK LINE INDICATING BERLIN WALL
Outside the bricks – W. Berlin
Inside the "V" – E. Berlin

HUGE BALLOON
Originally used as advertising for a newspaper - now takes tourist up.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL – "Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe" - finished 2005

2,711 (as many as could fit into the space) hollow, gravestone-like pillars, coated with anti-graffiti paint. Any graffiti just washes off. The paint was invented by a subsidiary of the company that made the Zyklon B gas used in Nazi death camps.

Controversial because it’s a memorial just for the Jews, but so many others were also killed. The govt. promises to built everyone a memorial….eventually.

HITLER'S BUNKER
The original underground bunker was so solidly built, over several decades it took several attempts to finally destroy it. Hitler and the Nazis stayed there during the war. It's where he and his wife (married just the day before) committed suicide with cyanide (then Hitler shot himself. Then his officers burned his body, as he’d asked, so that he wouldn't be dragged through the streets like Stalin. His body was burned, but the gas-fueled fire wasn't hot enough to destroy his bones. Soviets took his jawbone (easy to I.D. through dental records because Hitler had rotting teeth). Eventually, all his bones were burnt to ashes and scattered on the Rhine so there's nothing left of the monster.

MONUMENT TO JUNE 17, 1953 UPRISING – long photo on the ground
Depicts the reality of communistic community. It’s a real photo of a 1953 uprising against the communists.

AIR FORCE BUILDING & E. GERMAN PROPAGANDA MEMORIAL – 1935
Former headquarters of Nazi Air Force. Survived WWII bombing because aim was inaccurate. Mural created in 1953 to show communist ideal (and sparked the creation of the Monument to the June 17, 1953 Uprising).

BERLIN WALL – 1961
Rebuilt 4 times since the division of E. & W. Berlin (see photos from Checkpoint Charlie Museum)
Photo of 1974 photo
100 miles, 13 feet high, 16 foot tank ditch, "death strip" 30-160 feet wide, 300 sentry towers.
Existed 28 years (1961-1989).
Boarder guards fired 1,691 times & made 3,221 arrests.
5,043 documented successful escapes - 565 of these were boarder guards.

MARTIN GROPIUS BAU – built in mid-1800's? – rebuilt 1987 – now a museum

PHOTOS AND TEXT OF BERLIN WALL
Areal Map showing Berlin Wall in red - W. Berlin was inside the wall.

Photos of The Wall & boarder patrol
"Berliner Mauer – 1961-1989" – the marker where the Berlin Wall was


CHECKPOINT CHARLIE – rebuilt - actors portray the American soldiers
It’s the most famous gate because it's where most of the foreigners passed through. On the other side, (not rebuilt) was the E. Berlin patrol and extensive gates, wall, guns, etc.

GENDARMENMARKT – 1600's
1/5 of Berliners were French. Frederick the Greats' Royal Guard headquartered in the square. The name is part French "Gens d'Armes".

CONCERT HALL – early 1800's

FRENCH CATHEDRAL – early 1700's – rebuilt 1990's
Not a true cathedral – never had a bishop's throne in it. “Dome" in French was mistranslated by the Germans because "dom" in German means "cathedral.”

GERMAN CATHEDRAL – mid-1700's – rebuilt 1980's
Jealous Germans envied the French Cathedral so much they wanted one of their own. The two buildings are nearly identical on the outside.
Like the French Cathedral, not a true cathedral for the same reasons.


EAST BERLIN WALKING TOUR – My Perspective
Horribly hot weather. We toured (mostly) E. Berlin walking 4 1/2 hours in 90 degree heat without enough water, food, or bathroom breaks. Forced my body to ignore all discomfort and carry on. Terribly uncomfortable, and the heat kept getting worse and worse and worse.
Heather, our tour guide, was wonderful. She got a Master's in German history and loves Berlin so much she's (effectively) moved here. Heather loves history, esp. German history, and particularly Berlin history. Snagged her card so I can email her questions.
I focused on just taking good photos. Trying to first shoot the larger photo – for orientation when I took close up shots. Didn't take a single note about what I was photographing, (as I usually do).
Chatted with her every once in a while, but she talked to everyone in our group of about 20. I asked if she'd ever heard of James Burke's historical documentaries, and she hadn't, so I wrote down his name, the name of a few of his series, and the imdb.com website. (Matt also tipped her $10 Euros.)
Matt had been on this tour 6-7 years ago, and remembers when the East German Palace of the People was still standing (last time he was in town). It was flattened, because of what it symbolized. It's such a thrill for me to be where Matt was while he worked here. Two weeks, separated such a great distance, makes the time seem to stretch as well.
At the Brandenburg Gate, we only had 30 minutes to find and eat lunch.

Heather said Germans don't celebrate the falling of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9 because that date is usually when BAD things happen in Germany. She described how the Wall fell. The Berlin ruler claimed (later) that he "didn't know what was going on because he'd just gotten back from vacation" so he said the "wrong" thing. He just answered questions off the top of his head that allowed E. Berlin citizens to just walk into W. Berlin, immediately.
While waiting for Heather to finish talking to other tourists (and get handed $5-10 Euro bills in tips for her excellent service), Matt helped me figure the names of what I’d photographed on the tour. Heather helped. Then I went through them all again, asking her when the original buildings were built and reconstructed. There are a very few buildings that survived WWII bombs, but not many.
Matt offered me immediate ice cream, but I needed real food. He suggested the Italian restaurant we went to last night, and that sounded great. They were pleased to see us again. Felt like the world was moving when we sat down to eat dinner, but once I drank and ate for a few minutes, things stabilized. We each had a pizza. I ate half of mine.
We ordered the special ice cream made by the restaurant that was Sicilian. It's flat, thicker, with nuts and fruit in it, choc. drizzled over the top, plus berries artistically placed.
Before we walked out, I asked our server from last night for cards to pass out, and he snagged a few. I also went to the cook's window, just like last time, and said, "My compliments to the chef" in Italian. We were showered with “Ciao!"s as we left.
Matt said it was a 6 minute walk, but it was more like 10-15 to get to the….




BURNED OUT CHURCH – KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH
It was incredible to see first hand what the WWII bombs did. Very little of the pretty stuff remains. Matt let me walk all around the outside and take pictures. He'd seen it before, because it was across the street from his hotel when he worked here.

NEW BELL TOWER – a separate building, as tall, I think, as the bombed spire would have been that's located beside it. Tall, square, filled with ugly looking glass squares.

NEW KAISER WILHELM CHURCH –
Right by the church is the functioning, new, add-on, created in 1961. Looks incredibly ugly from the outside – tall gray rectangle (blocking good shots of the church) with little squares filled with dark glass. But Matt let me inside……


Incredible. 11,000 six inch squares of stunningly beautiful deep blue glass, each surrounded by black building material to frame it. They start about 4 feet up, and continue all the way up the 6 story walls. The glass was given to them by the French as a reconciliation gift. From the inside, I could see that some glass had yellow or red as well. Each square of glass isn’t solid, but made up of abstract shapes, put together, to form a square.

Then we walked to the grocery store to pick up Matt's alcoholic "dessert". He hunted for a bottle of wine (which he declared delicious, esp. for the low price). I checked out the candy isle. Matt was particularly thrilled at the M&M bag that only contained black, red, and yellow M&Ms (in honor of the World Cup).
The walk back to the hotel (probably 10 minutes) was hot, my feet hurt, and my legs were tired. Matt asked me to put the food in the fridge, which I did. Got my camera battery charging.
Wanted extra towels to help dry my long hair. The night gal also has long brown hair and understood my need. She taught me how to say "bath towel" and "hand towel" in German. Europeans don't use washcloths. I always wind up using the end of the smaller towel.
Matt got online and learned Roger bought the motorcycle he was interested in. He showed me a picture. Roger said he kept checking how the bike was operating. Said he lost about 14 years of his life, checking and worrying that Matt would ride it and end up a smear on the highway, (and added that Matt's worth 14 years of his life). Aw….Matt has the sweetest brothers.
Washed my flip-flops in the shower before washing the dirt off my own body. Berlin is a dusty city.
Kept bonking my head on the liquid soap dispenser in the shower. I also keep smacking my head on the shelf above the lower shelf where I have my suitcase. Feeling better, stretched while Matt washed clothes. I worked on Diary and then asked for a Wine Kiss. Mmmm. Good wine.
Matt ate some of my pizza, then wanted to try the candy I bought. Matt and I both liked it. Hard on the outside, chewy inside. Sort of like a jelly bean, but the harder outside is thicker – more like an M&M. Have no idea how they made it taste so good. It’s just sugar with flavoring, but wow!! I think I should get another bag before we leave.
Back to Diary. Matt told me, with tears in his eyes, that he loved me. He also got teary, talking about how the Book Burning Monument hits him every time he sees it.
Downloaded photos and sorted yesterday's. Will do today's tomorrow. Matt went to bed right as I was getting leftovers from the fridge. Ate the rest of my seafood pasta, and the fruity parts of the other half of the pastry.
It's nearly 11:00. Read just the intro. to a Zombie anthology Matt got for me at the used bookstore. Excited to see the editor has also done an anthology about apocalyptic stories.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chocolate Twizzlers are totally tasty and delicious!
Really great having a director who is awed by the many ways I'm able to save time and help make the production better. Sweet!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 17 – 6-8-10 – Frauenkirche Dome – Golden Rider – West Berlin

Woke at 5:00, laid in bed an hour. Starving! Went downstairs to eat breakfast.
Ate fried eggs with a medium croissant and a small roll. Enough to take off the edge, then went back to our room for an hour. Matt was pissed when he learned I'd eaten, because he didn't think I'd be able to get back in the dining room, but I’d told the gal I was going to find my husband, and then come back, and she didn't mind.
Reorganized my big suitcase. Downloaded photos to PC. Worked on Diary until time to leave for breakfast - already starving. Smugly happy there was no problems getting in for Second Breakfast. Ate about 3 scrambled eggs, bowl of cereal, 2 smaller bowls of fresh pineapple. There’s nothing like fresh pineapple. Droolingly delicious.
Our longing to see more of each other was expressed as Peter kept trying to persuade us to go to back to their home near Zeigan. Our response was asking them to visit Seattle. Peter wanted Mom and Dad to stay another week in Germany (with them). I suggested they met up with us after dropping Mom and Dad off in Frankfurt today.
That conversation led Matt revealing had no idea his mom wrote his dad every day he was in the navy. Mom said Grandma wrote her every day her first year of college, so she wouldn't be so lonely. Mom tossed most of those letters while still in college (no room for storage). Now, of course, we’d do anything to have those dear letters. So glad I’ve kept every letter anyone wrote me. Even notes from elementary school.
Peter told Dad to talk to him in his right ear, because he can't hear in his left ear. I piped in the deaf ear was the ear Marlies was supposed to talk into and everyone laughed. We headed up to our rooms. Matt and I packed up our stuff, then went to help the others and say goodbye.
Peter wasn't successfully hauling his heavy suitcase, so I snagged it and had no problems dragging it behind me, using the strap. Marlies trailed behind Peter. Peter took her heaviest bag (and it weighed a ton – filled with water, shoes and other stuff).
Matt, the packing expert, loaded everything into the back of Peter's car. Took him a few tries to get it right, but he did a great job. Then Marlies somehow crammed their rather large bag of dirty clothes into a crevasse between a suitcase and the side of the car.
Mom and Marlies sat in the back. Peter drove. Dad beside him. Hugs goodbye. Peter and Marlies will drive 3 hours to get my folks to Frankfurt, stopping to see something for an hour, then my folks will stay overnight at the hotel, and Peter and Marlies will drive 90 minutes to their home.
Matt and I went upstairs to snag some stuff, then split for Frauenkirche, noticing how much the swollen river has receded since we first came here. Much lower than last night.

FRAUENKIRCHE – CLIMBING UP TO DOME


Took pictures inside, as we went up, then more of pretty building spires on the surrounding buildings.



We walked back and I spent an hour frantically typing mostly yesterday's Diary. Be nice to catch up by the end of today. Spent nearly an hour doing that. We checked out, left our bags with the front desk, and had lunch at an Italian restaurant. I had a salad with chicken. Matt had a spinach ravioli and let me have a few bites. There was some bread, but I left starving, wondering if I’ll stay hungry until we get back to America and I’m not walking around all day.
Getting a little tired of being hungry most of the time, but I’m not gaining weight. I'm trying not to overeat.


GOLDEN RIDER – Augustus the Strong – gold statue
Matt took me to the famous statue of Augustus on his horse that I've only photographed from a distance.
I took a few photos of some surrounding pretty stuff (FOUNTAIN, GREEN BASE OF POST), then sat and looked for the name of the golden statue in the Rick Steves book while Matt found an ATM.

When Matt came back, he pointed to an interesting clock, so I checked it out but didn't photograph it. It's relatively new, and not interesting enough.


Did take a precious shot of Matt reading on the bench, waiting for me, with the Golden Rider behind him.

Matt bought us ice cream, which finally killed the hunger. He got the P.B., which I didn't know existed because I couldn't read "nut" in German like he could. He gave me a taste. YUM!
We walked back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby for a bit. I looked through today's photos and deleted a few. Then we snagged our bags and hopped in a taxi that took us to the train station. Germany has "stupid lights" like we do. (No cars, and yet the lights are on timers, so traffic doesn’t move.) Pissed off the driver, made Matt laugh, and we all realized it must be a universal thing.
At the train station, I got to sit on a bench and finally work on making sure I'll be able to understand my hand written photo notes. We moved to the train platform and I started hunting for pictures of my New Green Vault descriptions in the book Matt bought me. Finding about half so far. Not bad.
Our car on the train to Berlin was absolutely roasting. No AC and it was probably around 90. No breeze. Nothing. I ate and worked on finishing up Diary from today and yesterday.
Finally finished Diary catch up from my memory. Still need to add Rick Steves notes but that's easy. SO HOT. I checked out the First Class car ahead of us and it was cooler, so we moved and shared an enclosed group of seats with 2 guys from CA.
Matt helped me sort photos from June 5 (most of them). That helped. I sorted June 6 and took a break. We were nearly at the station anyway, so it worked out fine.
We moved out of the cooler car and back into the hot one, which had an exit. Talked to an old man in German. We complained about the heat, and he said over the next 2 months, it'll get much hotter. Blech!

WEST BERLIN
It was hot outside the train too. We walked about 20 minutes to get to our hotel. Matt admitted later that he doesn't want to walk any longer than that, with all our luggage. I sat and drank water while Matt talked to the hotel desk clerk.
The hotel is a tricky place. Can't exit unless you take the elevator. Getting into our room requires laying our key over a round electronic receptor on the door, then turning that knob with one hand while pulling on the door handle.
The room comes with a sewing kit. After just resting on the bed for 5 minutes, I sewed the growing rip in the top of my backpack. Just a few inches long, but it's grown over the last week from a tiny hole to something longer. I also snipped the frayed bits inside the backpack and did a little reorganization to create more room.
Matt claimed we couldn't use the fridge because removing anything would result in getting charged. Well, duh! I suggested keeping everything in the fridge and use the space that's left (there’s plenty)
Asked the hotel desk lady for restaurant options. She asked what we wanted to eat, and Italian sounded good. It was on the other side of the block and hired real Italians – cooks to waiters, so I flipped into speaking Italian (learned before our Italy trip 3 years ago). They appreciated it, and were so kind to us.
Chatted with our waiter. He spoke English and moved here 7 months ago, following his German girlfriend, who is going to school here. German is really hard for Italians to learn, so she's learning Italian.
Matt ordered us an appetizer that was delicious round bread. Best I've eaten in Germany. Soooo goooood. I had seafood in pasta. Matt ordered lasagna. I ate about half. Not starving, not full - just right. After my meal, I went to the cooks' window and said, "My compliments to the chef," in Italian and they BEAMED. I bet I made their month. Cooks don’t get enough compliments.
The waiter thoughtfully stuck a plastic fork and spoon in the bag with my leftovers.
During our meal, I was reminded that Matt's been here, in Berlin, about 5 times, working for his Swiss client. He hasn't seen much of the city though. He's been on the walking tour we're doing tomorrow (in spite of the fact that it's supposed to be even hotter than today).

West Berlin is very modern, but with a communist feel to it. Crammed with buildings and cars. It’s a modern city.

Back at the hotel, I ate half the delicious berry pastry Mom bought me yesterday. WOW! Best pastry I've eaten in Germany. Matt did Soduku while I ate, prepped for tomorrow, and got ready for bed. I got on the computer and did Diary while Matt watched TV.
Sorted photos from yesterday as well and older ones I’d not had time to organize. Ah! Better!. Matt rubbed my shoulders before I went to sleep around 11:00 I think. Felt good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 16 – 6-7-10 - DRESDEN – Hof Church – Green Vault – New Green Vault – Zwinger – Opera House

Matt and I woke up at 6:30. I got up first, hoping to eat and work on the computer. Matt couldn't go back to sleep and said he'd get up and follow me downstairs. No fresh pineapple available today (nothing beats fresh cut pineapple – addictively delicious). Ate scrambled eggs with a slice of cheese on top, about a cup of cereal, and a few pastries. Trying to keep from getting hungry.
Matt joined me before I finished. I was reading the final story in the sci-fi short story book, so read the last few page. Now we can leave it in the hotel. We buy used books to read on trips for this purpose.
When Matt came in the room, put away the computer in a flash and impatiently watched him strip off his clothes. ATTACK! I believe I’m finally getting my normal energy back. ;-)
This time I took photos of the buildings across the river so it was easy to figure out their orientation and identify them. I discovered part of my confusion was that the Zwinger and The Royal Palace (or Residenz) are both palaces. I was calling both buildings "the palace". Matt didn't have reference points when I just shot photos of steeples.
In Old Town Dresden, all the cool buildings are mostly in a clump, with one hiding part of another. Usually, when traveling in Europe, the individual churches/museums/old buildings/sites are separated. Require planning to get to each one, so it’s easier to keep track of what I’m photographing.
Mom and Matt helped me identify the buildings I’d photographed, but there was some frustration involved.


HOFKIRCHE - HOF CHURCH – INSIDE - Rebuilt after WWII. Went inside and took photos.

PULPET is the original (hidden in the country by locals before WWII bombing).

MEMORIAL CHAPEL (facing rear of church, on the left) – dedicated to those who died in WWII bombing. Altarpiece made in 1973 out of Meissen porcelain.
There’s also a crypt where Augustus the Strong is buried but we didn't go into it.

I asked Marlies when the church was reconstructed. Figured she’d figure it out from the information posted around the church in German. Instead, she bought me a little book about the church in English instead, as a gift, which made me feel bad, but how could I refuse it? (Matt later called her his 3rd mother, because Peter and Marlies are so much like our parents.)

RESEDENZ – THE ROYAL PALACE – Rebuilt after WWII. (Actually, they are still rebuilding it.) After leaving the New Green Vault, I took pictures of the inside section, where 3-D drawings cover the cloth hanging from the roof to the ground. They're painting the designs on now, and then they'll carve them. Some photos inside the palace show how they are recreating the gold-covered wood used to decorate the inside.

GREEN VAULT – Reconstructed. No photos.

We picked up our reserved tickets for The Green Vault, turned it in to get a flier, and showed the flier to the people handing out the actual tickets. Then we waited for our tour time to be called. Every bag, including small purses, every jacket and even Peter's vest had to be checked in. People walked, a few at a time, into an enclosed area that vacuumed dust up. Couldn't feel the suction or anything though.


After our tour, bought a book with pictures of some of the items I really liked, plus postcards of the rooms. I also got a bookmark with a picture of some porcelain flowers in the New Green Vault - very similar to the lifelike, porcelain bouquet on the King Ludwig's "magically setting table". YES!

We ate a quick lunch, because we wanted to see The New Green Vault. I volunteered to go back in side and ask someone inside if we had to get new tickets (yes) and if they were easily available (yes).

THE NEW GREEN VAULT – Reconstructed. No photos.
Matt made sure I didn't lose myself in the exhibit, examining each detail carefully, losing track of time, and everyone else. (Instead I wrote info. about each item I wished I could photograph, so I could get pictures from books or the web later). He also made sure I saw the two most impressive objects:

*The Throne of the Grand Mogul Aureng-Zeb – 132 figures – 1701-1708
Marlies loved the tiny porcelain figures celebrating the Grand Mogul Aureng-Zeb (ruler of India)'s B. Day – she kept going back to see it. Mom bought her a book with lots of photos that’s about the display. (Matt, found the book in the bookstore.) Mom bought a copy for us too.

*Green Diamond – 41 carats and part of a hat brim or agraffe composed of 2 huge diamonds and 411 others. The large diamond is light green because it was exposed to radiation.
We got a book with pictures of some of the super cool object I like. I’ll use the internet to find the rest of them or buy books featuring the main artists who contributed to the collection.

We ate at a nearby restaurant, a little pricy, but I was starving (again). Ate a large slice of quiche. Still starving. Ate 2 big scoops of chocolate. and cherry ice cream with cherry "salsa" and whipped cream. Some sort of egg liquor was drizzled over the top. Marlies said was very good. (I couldn't even taste it because the flavor was lost in the rest of the dessert. Peter gallantly kept offering to keep me from eating so much ice cream I'd grow a big belly like his. While I kept chowing down, I gave him dirty looks and told him “No,” in German, which made everyone laugh. The dessert finally killed off my hunger. Better!

Marlies really wanted to see the porcelain in the Zwinger museum, but it was closed. We did however, go to the Zwinger….

ZWINGER INNER COURTYARD – Reconstructed.
Took photos all the way around it, plus close ups. Peter took pictures of us (using his still and video camera), and we got one stranger to take photos of all of us. Mom and I also took photos of the others while we were there. (It was Peter's idea to find a pretty place to have behind us.)

CROWN GATE – 4 eagles support a crown (the eagle is a symbol for Poland). Loved the Crown Gate.
Big entryway to the right is the

RAMPART PAVILION "Wallpavilion" – first wing of palace.
Crown shaped building capped with a sun pavilion for Augusts' orange and fruit trees.
At the top is Atlas (with Augusts' features)
Opposite it is the

GLOCKENSPIELPAVILION – 40 bells of Meissen porcelain play a 3 min. song every 15 min.
(Mom loved the music!)
Location of the porcelain collection Marlies so wanted to see.
Across from the Crown Gate is

SEMPER GALLERY – built 100 years after the rest of the palace by the same guy who built the Opera House.

The entrance to the courtyard and the entrance to the palace are both in the shape of crowns.

OPERA HOUSE – from the square by it, I took pictures of all the buildings around me, starting with the Opera House. Opera House
King John on his horse – statue
Hof Church
Residenz
White house (I think a replica of a house in Florence for the Hof Church artists from Rome – while they constructed it – to make them feel more comfortable.)
Zwinger
Albertinium – behind left side of the Hof Church. King John on left, Hof on right, Albertinium in center.

The men went off together, and we women walked to a shopping mall because Marlies and Mom wanted to buy stuff. Mom wanted to get souvenirs and chocolate. Marlies kept searching for a specific store.
Mom bought me a 5 inch diameter pastry with berries on top. We didn't stop moving, so I didn't eat it today. Mom waited outside while Marlies and I went inside the grocery store she was looking for. She bought a 6 oz. bottle of the egg liquor I’d been so curious about earlier – one for Mom and one for me. Marlies!
There were also some cute kids doing ballet on a stage in the center of the mall. We watched some 6 year olds. Later Marlies got excited when she heard Greek music and hauled us back over to watch some older kids dance (all girls, except for one boy). Marlies used to do the Greek dance when she was younger.
While Mom was shopping for stuff to give friends, Marlies showed me the grocery carts. They are chained in place and cost 1 Euro to use. (Great way to make extra money and keep shopping carts from getting stolen.) There’s a hook to hang your purse or a bag from plus a magnifying glass (the latest thing on German shopping carts) so older people can read tiny print on items. Brilliant!
Peter called her cell, to find out where "the ladies" were. Matt took Peter (and Dad) to see the inside of the Frauenkirche. Matt later said he saw some tears in Peter's eyes, because the church is so amazingly beautiful.
On the way back to the hotel, we again passed the….


BLACK SPIRE FOUNTAIN

Marlies's knees were bothering her on the steps. So I looked out for her and tried to find the most “knee friendly” paths. Mom went back to her room to drop off our bags of stuff. Marlies and I found the guys in the second beer garden we checked.
Matt gave me money to get half a chicken – delicious! Around us, small fat birds begged for food. We talked and laughed. Dad gave me a book on Dresden, with photos, to help me figure out the buildings. So thoughtful!
It got cold, so I went to the hotel room (Matt walked me partway, so I wouldn't get lost).
On our way inside, we stopped, in spite of the cool weather to take pictures of the …….

MOSQUE SHAPED BUILDING – "Yenidze" – originally a tobacco factory designed to advertise Turkish cigarettes.

The plan – more Moon Flower drinks in the hotel bar. Last night Marlies ordered a Moon Flower drink from the hotel bar and got hooked, so we went over to have a drink at the bar, so Marlies could have another Moon Flower. Mom wanted one too.
While waiting for our drinks, learned the various preposition words for people from Marlies. Marlies said people address each other less formally now than they did when she was growing up (particularly kids to adults).
Had a few sips of Mom's Moon Flower. It has a chain of flavors the mouth isn’t used to. Strangest drink I’ve ever had. Not bad, but so different, my mouth was always surprised.
Got ready for bed and really wanted to do Diary, but, because I love Matt and I've already driven him crazy, just wrote notes and will do it tomorrow. Also have notes in my "what I took pictures of" little notebook.
It was totally dark in the room when Matt opened one of the curtains, then called me to the window to look at the lights on the…

HOF CHURCH – Lights on the building, reflected in the river. Beautiful.