Since we had a 3.5 hr drive home we wanted to get an early start. We quickly drove by the Olympic stadium (where there was a color run going on) and then stopped to walk around Schloss Charlottenburg. I had read that there were renovations going on inside and that some of the most impressive rooms were closed, so we didn’t do the tour (hopefully we’ll make it back there in a couple years) and just walked around the grounds for a while. The drive home ended up taking FOREVER.. there was lots of road construction so our GPS detoured us to “avoid traffic delays” and made us go through Potsdam/Sanssouci which was a TERRIBLE idea. Since it was a nice Sunday, everyone and their brother went here to walk around the parks and see the palaces. I think this “time saving detour” added on 1 hr. The town is fairly small and it was a 4 lane road getting through it but two lands were closed so traffic was all backed up. However I do want to go back to Sanssouci someday – it looked really beautiful. The rest of the drive home was fairly uneventful, other than the mass exodus of the entire population of Poland towards western Germany. I swear every car around us on the A2 was from Poland!
Saturday morning we stopped by the Brandenburg gate one more time so we could see it with less people/ fences and equipment around it. Sadly the huge stage was still set up behind it, but at least we could get closer this time and there were fewer people. Next we headed over to the Museuminsel (Museum Island) to visit the Neues Museum and the Pergamon Museum. The Neues Museum’s has Egyption, Prehistory and Early History collections. One of the most impressive pieces is the Bust of Nefertiti, a 3,300 year old painted limestone bust. The room it is displayed in is itself really beautiful too (as are most of the rooms in the museum!)..sadly we couldn’t take pictures in that room, but we did get a couple post cards. Next was the Pergamon Museum which is divided into three collections: the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. The most impressive pieces are some reconstructed monumental buildings – the Pergamon Alter, the Market Gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate. By the time we finished up here we were ready for a snack, so we left the museum island and had some coffee and apple strudel sitting outside with a great view of the Dom.
After our snack we took the UBahn to Wittenbergplatz. Tauentzienstrasse is a huge shopping street (this is where KeDeWe is) and this is also where Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is. Kaiser Wilhelm Church was badly damaged during WWII and only the spire remains from the original church. It has become the symbol of Berlin so we made a point to go see it, but sadly the entire thing was surrounded by scaffolding because there is some restoration work going on. Next we checked out KeDeWe which is a HUGE high end department store (think Harrods). We looked around the first floor a little which was all designer boutiques and makeup before heading to the gourmet food floor. They had a huge selection – I think you find just about anything there. They even had an “American food” section and we were tempted to buy a few things (Hershey’s syrup, cake mix, peanut butter, popcorn, etc) but everything was sooo expensive and we weren’t hurting for anything too badly so we resisted. We headed back to the Gendarmenmarkt area to have some fun (but pricy) drinks at a fun bar Antje had recommended before dinner at Die Zwolf Apostel (The Twelve Apostles) – a really good Italian restaurant that is underneath the railroad tracks (literally). While heading back to our place we stopped at the Oktoberfest festival going on at Alexanderplatz to look around the stalls and have some Glühwein.
Friday morning we ate breakfast at a little café near our apartment and then walked over to Alexanderplatz and then headed over to city hall- the Rotes Rathaus. Next we walked over to the Berliner Dom – which is a bit of a misleading name since it isn’t a Dom (Cathedral) since it has never been the seat of a bishop and it isn’t Catholic- it is associated with the Evangelische Kirche Berlin. The floor plan of the church was quite different from others we’ve visited and I couldn’t get over the Dom height. The mosaics and stained glass at the top of the Dom were really beautiful as was Sauer’s Organ. The crypt was also really interesting – it includes the sarcophagi of over 80 Prussian royals. We also climbed up to the dome gallery (great view of the inside of the church) and then up to the walkway that is on the outside of the dome. When we left the church we walked up and down Unter den Linden a bit, thought the road wasn’t nearly as pretty as usual (from what we’ve heard) because there is a ton of construction going on for a new UBahn line that runs under the road. We stopped at St. Hedwigs Kathedral, Humboldt University, and the Mercedes museum/showroom. From here we visited the East Side Gallery which is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall covered with paintings.
After walking along the wall and the river Spree which is behind it, we took the train back to our apartment so we could get ready to go to the Philharmonic. We got all dressed up (I wore high heel pumps for the first time since moving over here which turned out to be a terrible idea) and ate dinner at Lutter & Wegner (a really nice, popular German restaurant). After dinner we took the UBahn to Potsdamerplatz and walked the few blocks to the Philharmonic (right about now my feet really started to hurt). The show featured “music from the time of Mozart” – so Jean-Fery Rebel, Mozart himself, Christian Cannabich, and Johann Christian Bach and was conducted by Reinhard Goebel, who is the founder and head of the ensemble Musica Antiqua Köln. It was fun to do something a little different and overall the night was a success (despite the super painful trip home.. at several points I was tempted to take my shoes off and walk back barefoot…).
October 3rd and 4th were holidays over here so we decided to head to Berlin – if we had looked up why these days were holidays we might have gone to Berlin on a different weekend. Thursday the 3rd was German Reunification Day – so Berlin was soooo crowded. There was a huge festival going on around the Brandenburg Tor, which was cool to experience, but made sightseeing a little difficult. We didn’t arrive in Berlin until around 2pm, so after checking into our apartment we only had time for a few things. We took the UBahn to Potsdamerplatz and then walked towards the Grandenburg Tor, stopping by the Holocaust memorial on the way. We walked around the festival for a while, listened to some good (and some really bad) karaoke, ate some bratwurst, and checked out some of the vendors. Then we headed over to the Reichstag which is the German Parliament building. We had hoped to go up in the Dome because there are beautiful views of the city and you can see down to the parliament floor, but sadly when we headed to the ticket office there were several HUGE tour buses worth of people already in line and all the time slots that would have worked for us were sold out. Next time we’ll know to book way in advance. We walked around to the front of the Brandenburg Tor (earlier we were behind it and there was a huge stage set up) and we were able to get a few pictures, but because of the festivities there were fences and trucks all around it. We walked down Unter den Linden a little ways then headed over to Gendarmenmarkt. We looked around Fassbender & Rausch (a huge Chocolatier) and bought some heisse schokoladenpulver (hot chocolate powder) before walking down to Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known Berlin wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. By this point it was getting late so we headed to dinner at Izumi (a Sushi place Antje had recommended) and let Morgan get his sushi fix. It was really good! We finished off the night going to see a movie (Gravity) – in English! In Osnabrück movies aren’t shown in OV (original version) very often, so this was a big treat.