Family in Berlin

In September, I went to Berlin. My aunt works there at a private university that had its inauguration and my sister lives there with her family. I’ve been to Berlin once before and took the time to see all the big sights then, this time around was mostly family, but I managed to cram in a museum or two.

[Unfortunately I hardly took any pictures on this trip, so this post might seem a little dry.]

I arrived Thursday morning, an hour after my parents (we booked flights seperately) who waited for me at the airport. Together we made our way into the city and to their hotel (I stayed with my sister).

Their hotel (Hotel Friedenau) was the quaintest little thing, it was really cool. The rooms were filled with Biedermeier furniture and they regularly have literary readings there.

Anyways, from there we went to meet my grandmother who travelled with her friend and had arrived a couple of days earlier. We went to the Hotel Adlon since my great-grandfather had died there during WW II. Unfortunately, that also meant paying the prices of the Hotel. (6 fucking Euros for a glass of water!) I’m glad my parents paid for me…

Well, after, my grandma and her friends did their own thing and I took my parents to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen last time and I was no less impressed this time. And this time I had the time to see the museum below the memorial.

It’s an amazingly well made museum: First you get the general timeline of WWII and the prosecution of the Jews. And then you get personal stories about single people and families. I cried more than once.

After that, I went to see my sister and my parents went to their hotel. I had a rather quite evening, catching up with my sister and her family and having an early night.

On Friday, there was the inauguration. It was a rather long affair, starting with coffee, then some talks (from my aunt to the minister of education), then lunch and general milling around.

My parents and I left pretty early and headed to Kreuzberg, more specifically Bergmann street and Riemann street. That’s two streets full of shops and caf├ęs and more shops. And really cool stuff, too. There’s Another Country, an English Second Hand Book Shop, and Baggage, where you can buy all kinds of bags and tons more very cool shops.

We had planned to spend an hour or two there and then head to a museum but in the end, we spent for ever there and didn’t have time for anything else before meeting my aunt in the evening.

On Saturday, I met my parents in the morning and we went to the DDR Museum (Museum of East Germany). It’s an interactive museum (you can open drawers and touch stuff etc etc) and it’s fun to be there, but for me it felt too much in the nostalgic vein. Other people I talked to didn’t have that impression and maybe I’m just overreacting but there’s definitely a tendency in Germany right now to think nostalgicly about its socialist past. And while I don’t think that everything was bad in the DDR, I don’t think that nostalgia helps, either.

DSCN5721A typical living room in the DDR.

Afterwards, we went on a boat tour on the Spree.

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As you can see in the picture, the weather was perfect and we really enjoyed it.

When we came back, we quickly headed into the Radisson Hotel to see the AquaDom thingy, which is basically a giant aquarium with an elevator in the middle (you can also pay the entrance fee and ride the elevator, but we decided that looking was enough, especially since my parents had already done it and the queue looked to be a couple of hours long.

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From there, we went back to my sister’s and since my parents had barely seen her and her family and would leave the next morning, we spent the rest of the day there.

My parents left Sunday morning, but I stayed till Monday, so I had Sunday to spend completely with my sister and her family. And to sleep in.

So after a late breakfast, my sister and I headed to the Sony Center. I love the Sony Center (generally speaking has Berlin the greatest modern buildings I know).

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Then we went to the Film and TV Museum (which is in Sony Center). The Film Museum part is very cool – it focusses especially on the very early movies and then Marlene Dietrich, but there’s tons of other stuff. The only thing they don’t do too well is WW II propaganda movies. They mention Leni Riefenstahl and then they basically go on to talk about other things.

The TV Museum part is a little boring and if you’re not from Germany even more so, I’m afraid.

Anyway, then it was time to meet the rest of the family again and we spent another evening just talking about absolutely anything and everything.

And Monday so early in the morning that it was still night I had to leave again, unfortunately. And that was Berlin.

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