This is post #13 of our Dublin-Berlin trip, Thursday, September 20, 2018.
Love the windows at the station, filled with leaves. I was trying to get up to the Uniqlo opening at Alexanderplatz, but by the time I got there, all the “first 100 people in line” bags were given out, but the hoopla was still going on. Not only was Uniqlo opening up, but C & A was also have a grand opening at this former East German shopping plaza, complete with a new-fangled bubble machine that made C’s. And A’s.
You can see the C and A floating away in the lower left photo.
These two: the TV tower (Ferneshturm) and the steeple to the Marienkirke (Marien Church) are always intertwined in the landscape; you see one, and the other is right beside it. Since this is former East Berlin territory, the commentary on a man-made structure trying to outdo the religious building is not lost on me.
I found this small billboard to be informative, showing the plaza before the Communists took it apart and carted off Martin Luther’s statue. The photo of him on a flatbed truck is startling. He’s been restored to his previous place (below), but the graceful steps and statuary seen in the billboard are all gone.
The entrance to the Marienkirke is filled with scaffolding, as they are trying to preserve an old mural from 1470, titled “Dance of Death.” Above is an artist’s version of it. The alien-looking creatures are corpses or skeletons accompanying all sorts of people– noblemen, workers, ladies, clergy–on their way to death. One writer thought that by alternating these types of people, it showed the “equalizing power of death.”
I didn’t spend too long here, as I knew I was coming back for the organ concert later on. The woman, who was there often during my two weeks, is framed against the dome of the Berlin Cathedral.
See you later, Martin.
Just as I crossed the street, a tram pulled up and I hopped on. I took it to where I’d left off on Tuesday, near the Neue Synagogue, and it let me off in front of the old Central Post Office building (from 1881).
I walked back to one of the “Höfes” which are a series of linked courtyards inside apartment buildings with the nicer apartments towards the front, and the smaller apartments (with smaller windows) towards the back. Rick Steves points out “these Höfe were designed to house different socioeconomic classes in the same residential complex. It was believed that by mingling with wealthy and cultured people from the front, the poorer people at the back would be inspired and empowered to improve their lot in life. The idea was for a family to gradually work their way every closer to the apartments in the front as they became more educated and found more lucrative work.” This idea originated with Frederick the Great.
Hackemann Höfe had several beautiful courtyards, and in the last one, I took advantage of the benches and ate the leftover salad, purchased in the department store (reaffirming my belief that one should never eat leftover salad). After finding food (the first most famous tourist activity), the second-most famous tourist activity comes up: finding a bathroom.
I only mention this here as I was tipped off that there are bathrooms near the Workshops for the Blind, in the neighboring Höfe.
I backtrack and re-start my walking around this area at the door of the Neue Synagogue (now a cultural museum), and walk the back streets, seeing the sights:
Stumble stones, or in German, *Stolperstein.* From my Instagram post: “They are placed to remind us of the horrors of WWII and the killing of thousands of Jews, and are near the victims’ homes. They changed the wording to say “ermordet” — murdered — and where. Sometimes families pay for these, occasionally it might be a school project.”
It’s interesting to look up from Stumble stones and see the building where these people lived. History really can be made to come alive, and I wondered what the current residents thought about these Stumble stones, and how did these current residents come to live here, anyway? Was it like the novel Sarah’s Key, where the new residents ignore their history and took over the building? There are so many unanswered questions, but seeing them is always sobering.
Turning around 180 degrees, I can see the dome of the Neue Synagogue, the interior modeled after the Alhambra. The was the church desecrated by the Nazis on Kristallnacht.
More wandering, to the church (not open) and the small graveyard with this veiled cherub.
After untangling my path via Google Maps, I found myself at the Berliner Handwerker Verein, which translates to the Berlin Craftsman Club (or Society). I followed the blue car into the inner space, which appeared to have some art galleries.
It was only when I stood still, trying to capture the beautiful brickwork on the front, that I heard what I call The Singing Lesson. I found out later that there is a small performance hall inside.
As a quilter, I feel like I am part of a Handwerker Verein!
It’s getting time to head back to the church for the organ concert, but I stop for a few minutes in Hackescher Market, where I purchased two pair of earrings (keeping with my idea that souvenirs are to be small and tucked into the toe of my shoe) and catching the tunes of a French musician as I tried to figure out which way to walk.
Made it back in time for the organ recital at Marienkirke, and tried to surreptitiously eat the bretzel I’d purchased (in a rush) in a convenience store on the way here: perfect, with butter baked into the thicker parts. Manna, I would say, and I was amazed that a convenience store had such amazing food. [Ours in the USA only have heat-lamp baked dead hot dogs, sugary drinks and stale doughnuts. We seriously have fallen so far behind on decent and delicious food, easily available.]
The organist, dressed in a casual summery outfit, came downstairs and brought us up to her lair, where we could better see the organ, and I could look out over the church:
No videos she said, so I hereby present to you: No Videos#1, No Videos #2. She also gave us a basic tutorial in how the stops worked (half in English and half in German), the sounds of the pipes, and when I tried to help move the chairs at the beginning, that old favorite, The German Rules. “I”ll move them!” she said. I stood back as she arranged them to her liking.
Window on the stairs, coming back down out of the loft. Yes, I bought the CD.
At first I felt guilty sitting there for over an hour, listening to the beautiful music, but then I thought: I’m on vacation and I have the time. Why not? I had outlined four other organ recitals to go to in my travel plans, but for one reason or another, never made it to any of them.
Back through the plaza (see the hot dog vendor, the Alexa store) and into the S-bahn, where I was tempted by these sandwiches, but I’m invited to dinner with the scientists, so headed home instead.
(to be continued)