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Monday, May 16, 2011

Full last day

It's my last day, which was full, and I'll need to cover it briefly.

I got up at 6.30 a.m. to issue my return boarding pass on the Brussels Airlines site. It issued that and the ongoing United passes, but I think I'll want them reprinted at the airport. I did a dry run to get where I need to catch the bus in the early morning, and had a croissant breakfast in a new place. Then, on the way to the first museum, I printed the boarding passes at a shop with a printer.

Many musueums are open on Monday, and this was the time to see the Neues Museum. I went to Museum Island and the trailer where they issue the timed tickets to this museum. It has antiquities, most notably Egyptian, had heavy war damage, and was fully reopened in fall 2009. There are great works, and the included audioguides also discussed the restoration, where the reconstructed parts are somber and modern, in contrast with the murals of the old parts. The highlight is the room devoted to the bust of Nefertiti, well preserved and which could be viewed without much of a crowd, given the timed admission.

I had a thought of buying a book with pictures of the past, and some other souvenirs, and wound up at the Galeria Kaufhof on Alexanderplatz. It's a department store that's comparable to the grand KaDeWe in the West. Since they have some nice food counters, I stopped at the Asian one and had crispy Thai chicken. I was close enough to my apartment to bring my purchases back, and it was close to 3 p.m. when I bought my transit pass at Hackescher Markt. I took the S-Bahn to Ostbahnhof, viewing the drab East German construction, and connected to a bus to start my walk around Eastern Kreuzberg. I was interested in stories I'd seen about the area during the division; it was a part of West Berlin surrounded on three sides by the wall, and known for its mix of mainly Turkish immigrants, along with punks, goths, and radicals.

I've mostly used the printed Rough Guide, but here I tried a walking tour on the iPod version of the Lonely Planet guide. They botched several street names, but there was a mix of quiet residential areas and bustling commercial streets, with some out-of-the ordinary things to see. It was sprinkling most of the time. I took the U-Bahn two stops to the center of the Turkish area, but it was raining harder and there wasn't much to record. Then two more stops to get to the Jewish Museum.

It had its security check, and they asked me to check my jacket. It was confusing to start the visit, but I found my way around in this new building with a jagged shape to show the course of Jewish history. There were halls of remembrance before going up some stairs to the top to cover 1000 years of Jewish-German history. There was much to learn, and painful topics; it took a lot of time to see.

Making the awkward transition: I took the U-Bahn home and had dinner at Asado, a steakhouse near the apartment. Now I'll wrap it up, since I need to leave early in the morning; I'll have final thoughts with my flight report.

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