This is post #11 of our Dublin-Berlin trip in September 2018.
(Continued from this post, Tuesday, September 18th)
I need to do a whole post about signs. Just kidding, but seriously? Wanna?
This sign, right by our elevator, made me ask our hotel desk clerk about our “sleeping” room. Apparently we’d paid an extra 15 euro that first night (an add-on, after we changed our plans) and had a special sleeping room, with mattresses that could offer different “comfort levels” controlled by a remote control that would inflate it to a specific firmness from 1-20, although since we had no idea what any of those numbers meant, we just tried something. The shoulders had a control as did the hips. We also had a chocolate bar and a bag of lavender (ditto). We also had a pillow menu.
So on any given day, depending on what I’d asked for from the front desk, our bed looked like this: stacked up on a very thin “comfort level” mattress were pillows. Today’s gift was the “Spelt Pillow.” It was as it sounds: a small pillow filled with barley-like kernals. That went back the next day, but it was interesting to try.
After being out for most of today, I dropped my purchases at the hotel. The room looks dark because they insisted on drawing closed the blue lightweight curtains, because supposedly blue light is best for sleeping, even though I hadn’t contemplated sleeping in the afternoon. I intended to head to Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing store near KaDeWe. I grabbed the bus, climbed up to the top level and enjoyed the ride and the sights:
Getting off the bus, I walked toward the ruined church I could see to my left, passing by this fountain by a shopping area. Apparently its nickname is the “Wet Meatball.”
The ruined church is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Originally dedicated to the first emperor of Germany, it opened in 1895 with scenes of his coronation and great events in his life done in mosiacs and reliefs, designed by the same man who had done the Anhalter Banhof, the relic outside my hotel window. This church was bombed in World War II, leaving a structure that has its own nickname of “the hollow tooth,” and if you see pictures from a different angle, it’s easy to see why (from here):
While some Berliners wanted to tear down these ruins, they were reinforced and kept, with the bottom floor being made into a Memorial Hall.
It must have been a lovely church. After the war, a competition was held to choose the design for the replacement:
This modern church, with 11,000 little blue glas windows, was the winning design, the glass given to the church by the “French as a reconciliation gift” (Rick Steves guidebook). Wikipedia notes that “The glass…was inspired by the colours of the glass in Chartres Cathedral. The predominant colour is blue, with small areas of ruby red, emerald green and yellow.” It was completed in the early 1960s.
The outside street, Ku’damm (nickname for Kurfürstendamm) was noisy, with pamphlets being pushed to me from young men standing outside, but once I entered the foyer, and then the octagonal chapel, the noise fell away. I sat down to enjoy the beauty of this church, its simple design enveloping and inclusive of all who sat inside. I looked at the flyer and saw there was an organ concert there that night. Next trip, I thought, a mantra I would say many times while in Berlin, acknowledging that I couldn’t do it all and would have to save that experience for another time, knowing that time would never come.
Pavement outside, with the church’s name around the outside of the medallion (drain).
I visited Uniqlo: no shirts that I wanted, but tomorrow their newest store would be opening in Alexanderplatz and (the salesclerk checked her little handheld mobile) they “have full stock.” I walked outside, past this structure known as “Berlin” which is a broken chain, representing (as it was made before the Wall came down) the severed connections of this city. It was installed on the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin, in 1987.
Scenes from an M29 bus ride: I loved that they have a suburb called “Wedding” and the Landwehr Canal, a sight I never could photograph well while traveling on the two-decker bus.
Back at the hotel, I received email that Dave was at a reception until later. I walked back up to Lihn Yu!, the Vietnamese/Thai restaurant, and picked up two different meals, and came back to the hotel. I ate mine, but when he arrived home, he was too full from the reception snacks to eat. We visited briefly, then he tackled the reading he had to do for the next day, for as chair, he had to be on top of things. I wrote in my diary, posted on Instagram, and read about Alexanderplatz, my destination for tomorrow.