Sunday, February 05, 2012

Berlin... take two

As most of you know Mariko and I visited Berlin with my dad when he while he was here in Germany, but what you may not know is that it was the windiest and coldest day out of our traveling. We trekked all around Berlin in cold with fog, wind and rain to keep us company.... it was not pleasant by the end of the day. Being as the weather was so miserable, and we had walked so much more than planned (thank you Google Maps for incorrect walking distances), Mariko and I knew that we would want to go back and visit more of the city, and what better way to do that than to visit with friends as well.

Our friends J.J. and Alisa Carlson had moved to Berlin after their stay in Marburg for the language course. Being that it had been such a long time since we had seen them, Mariko and I planned to spend the weekend hanging out at their apartment. We also hoped to be able to see more of Berlin, as there were things that we missed on our previous visit.

So one Friday night Mariko and I headed off to the train station and made our way to Berlin. The really nice thing about the location of Braunschweig is that it is on a direct ICE route to Berlin and only 1.5 hrs away. Soon the hustle and bustle of Berlin was all around us and waiting for us was J.J. and Alisa! A small S-Bahn trip and a short walk later we were at their apartment (most of Berlin is accessible by S-Bahn). They have a lovely 2 bedroom apartment (which makes it easy to spend the night with them) and it was a comfortable and relaxing place.  We sat down and inadvertently started talking... and the next thing we knew it was 2 am and the ladies were starting to nod off a bit.

The following day dawned a little later for everyone as we were tired from our evening of talking (well it was normal wake-up time for me). The day looked grey and wet outside, but we were determined to try and see something! We bundled up and braved the Berlin weather. Our first stop was the Charlottenburg Schloss. It was a beautiful castle, and I'm sure during the greener seasons it is even more so.... Berlin is rather grey and dull during the cold months.

Even though the admission price was a little expensive (20 Euro for Mariko and I) we opted to take a look around. I also payed the extra 3 Euro to be able to take photos inside... that's right photos are not free here. The rooms all looked very palace-like and had some ornate decorations: ceiling mirrors, elaborate hand-crafted picture frames, porcelain, pictures of old men with impressive mustaches... you know, the usual. Every room contained at least one guard and they were vigilant! If you didn't have your "photo wrist band" they would pounce as soon as you grabbed your camera. I made sure mine was visible at ALL times.

The painted porcelain room ceiling
Our favorite room probably had to be the porcelain room, mostly for the ceiling. The ceiling was intricately painted with a large amounts of small detail. The over all picture was comprised of the morning sun pushing back the night, an allegory for which I have forgotten (I'm not a history major).  But it was all the little tiny details that were fascinating, many different actions that were quite bizarre.  Everything from cherubs slaughtering animals to god-like angels
Not sure what this is supposed to mean
driving demons before them, there was even a small cherub stabbing another cherub with lightning bolts.... in a very awkward spot.

After the whirlwind tour of the castle we went out into the Berlin weather once more... and were buffeted by cold, wind and rain. At this point we knew that we weren't going to last much longer and decided to make our way towards the nearest U-Bahn station. Ice pelted us on our way, giving weight to our decision to shelter back at Alisa and J.J's place. Frozen and slightly numb we made it back with our any major incidents.

The rest of the evening was spent talking, watching J.J. cook his specialty dinner (General Tso's Chicken) and eating! This was especially nice since Mariko has never really had Chinese food ... it's all those unsafe nut contaminations!! But it was delicious and a good one for her to try first. We also had one of the other Fulbright couples join us that evening, Tyson and Caetlynn. We were happy to see more of our friends and spent most of the night just talking and drinking wine.

The next morning dawned cold and wet once more. A quick stop at the local bakery and we were headed back to the train station. We bid farewell to our friends and boarded the train to our slightly less cold city of Braunschweig.

As of now Berlin has a 0-2 record for us, and we are hoping that the city doesn't just hate us. Being windy and cold does not make for a good time while wandering the city. But it has at least 2 more visits from us to redeem itself. Look out Berlin, round 3 begins March 18th!

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