“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand – or say they don’t – what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin!” — John F. Kennedy
It’s been a good month in Berlin. I’ve kind of come to love this city, which is unusual for me. Its sad to say goodbye, but I don’t think this is the last time I visit.
Took me 3 weeks, but I finally figured out how to properly wear a scarf.
On Saturday I went back to the Brandenburg Tor. I visited the Topography of Terror, the site of the Führer Bunker, the Reichstag, and a part of the Berlin Wall. I had a small lunch of Bratwurst and hot Glühwein.
Sunday was dedicated to searching for Checkpoint Charlie. It’s really the hardest historical site to find (unless you’re a smart person and just walk down Friedrichstrasse the whole way). There was a small museum about the Mauer and the Cold War, which was very interesting. I wandered around the area a little, in order to find more pieces of the wall. It took a while, but I found some parts eventually!
Checkpoint Charlie and the nearby museum.
Monday afternoon I went to the Schwules Museum. “Schwule” means gay in German. I first learned about the Schwules Museum a couple months ago while doing my own research. Magnus Hirschfeld founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in 1919; this institute was a research library and an advocate center for a variety of issues. It was destroyed by the Nazis in 1933. And since 1985, the Schwules Museum has been open, showcasing art by and about famous LGBTQ* people, as well as temporary exhibits.
I was pretty lucky — they were showcasing LGBTQ* Comics. I’m a big fan of webcomics, and probably half of the ones I read are LGBTQ. I even saw two that I know: Eth’s Skin and Oh Human Star. They’re both very good. OHS is kind of a family drama, set in the future with robots. It’s one of my favorites. And Eth’s Skin is a fantasy, but all of the characters are non-binary. So its really cool to see how the authors portray the characters.
Tuesday was the last day of class. It was sunny and very cold — a blessing with a curse. I went to Bernauer Strasse to see the Mauer Memorial. It was very cool, because there are pieces of the wall still standing, and at every block there are different information boards about the effect the wall had on the people as well as the city. For instance, one part of the wall went straight through a graveyard.
On Wednesday, I went to two museums: the Spy Museum and the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. They’re both smaller museums, so I could do both in the same day. The Spy Museum was mostly about the Cold War (if they had more room, they could have easily doubled their WWII section).
The Käthe Kollwitz Museum had a lot of her drawings and woodcut prints, along with a few of her sculptures. She had a couple main themes to her work: social inequality, death, and children. She was born in the late 1800s and died just before WWII ended, so she saw a lot of war in her life, as well as the plight of the poor late in the Industrial Revolution. I think her work is beautiful.
In terms of food, Wednesday was a very good day. At almost every bakery I go to, I’ve tried to find a Berliner. Berliners are just jelly filled donuts, but since I’m American, I can’t resist the joke. It’s another history thing, so bear with me, people. When JFK gave a speech in West Berlin, he was trying to show his solidarity with the German people, right? So he gives his speech, and at one point he says “I am a Berliner” in German. Or at least he tried to. In German, you’d say “Ich bin Berliner/in” (male/female), but JFK said “Ich bin ein Berliner” which essentially translates to: “I am a donut.”
So I just had to find a Berliner while in Berlin. But none of the bakeries had Berliners! I was almost tempted to get a jelly filled donut from Dunkin Donuts and call it a day. But on Wednesday I saw a small bakery in the U-bahn station that had jelly-filled donuts without a label. So I asked the lady there what they were called. She said “Pfannkuchen oder Berliner.” (Oddly that also means pancakes…) I had seen donuts labeled Pfannkuchen all month and I hadn’t realized that those were Berliners. *fail*
At any rate, I got my Berliner. Here it is, the real thing. Thank goodness I didn’t have to go to Dunkin Donuts and lie to you all.
I also found a cool Polish Restaurant some days ago, but I hadn’t had the chance to go there. So I went on Wednesday and I’m so glad I did. I had their Pierogis, which they make daily. They were so good! I also had their chocolate crepe dessert, which isn’t exactly Polish, but it was very good.
Thursday was my last day in the city, and I went to the Brandenburg Tor/Tiergarten area. I wandered around the park looking for statues and monuments. It was a good last day.