Last Looks at Berlin • Part 1

This is post #22 of our Dublin-Berlin trip, for Thursday, September 27, 2018.

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Okay, what day is it?  Oh, yes.  Our last day in Berlin.  Dave’s conference finishes at noon, so technically I have a half day.  I note in my travel journal: “Two things to see today and I only did one of them: see inside Galeries Lafayette.”

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As I try to recall from the distance of time and miles, perhaps visiting this church ( in the opposite direction) was the other thing, which remains unseen.  But it may have instead been some of the official State Buildings on the river.  Or that museum I can’t quite remember the name of.  Next trip.

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I took the bus to Kochstrasse U-bahn station, then hopped on it for two stops, exiting near Galaries Lafayette.

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Perhaps it was because these buildings were behind the wall, but their architectural style is so different than so much of what I’ve seen.  There is quite a mix of architecture in this city, from all schools and styles.

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I’d walked by this multiple times, and today was the day.

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The center “dome” extended far up into the upper floors, although with this view, it just looks like a spaceship about to land, and then below street level one floor. (Supposedly this is supposed to mimic the Reichstag dome.) I went down in their little space-capsule elevator with glass walls and a curved door that opened to each side and descended into their food section.  I strolled all around their food aisles, picking up lunch (seemed like enough prepared lunches for all of Berlin, with multiple counters and multiple menus), and then buying chocolate to take home:

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We love European chocolate–the low-end kind from the supermarket shelves.

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These caught my eye–aha! the Ritter chocolate shop.

I’d heard you could “build your own chocolate bar” but they didn’t have dark chocolate — only white and milk.  Apparently dark chocolate doesn’t appear until October, several days after our visit.  Makes perfect sense, I guess, if you live here.  I still bought a few to try and some bars and tins to take home to friends.

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As I came out of the shop, I turned right, passing by this building with fascinating decor.

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Lunch: a small turkey salad, a bretzel roll, my “water” bottle (Volvic) and the bag of yummy things from Ritter Sport.  I strolled to the big square I’d seen last night: Gendarmenmarkt, found a bench and ate my lunch.  At the time, these small acts of being “inside” a city, not just being “in” a city, are what I treasure about long-term visits overseas.

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While I can still remember the feel of the brisk morning, the sunshine flickering through the trees, the sounds of the workmen renovating the large building towering over this spot on the bench, I know these sensory sounds and feelings will fade. Hopefully, though, I will remember the taste of the bread, the delicious flavors of my dessert:

I was feeling sort of wrenched about leaving Berlin: on one hand it WAS time to head home, especially given my tenuous health situation (funny how chocolate was always fine to eat).  But I’d grown accustomed to finding places to visit, hopping on the transit and heading there, observing new sounds and sights.  I was tired though–to be truthful, I was tired to the bone.  But it was bittersweet, this last lunch in Berlin, so I lingered, hoping to soak it all in deeply.

The workmen spilling out into the square reminded me that Dave was meeting me back at the room, and I’d better return.

Although I had a hunch as to what it was, I was curious about this green structure some distance off to my left.  Curiosity satisfied.

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Map Key: pink circle (upper edge) is the U-bahn stop; yellow X is Galeries Lafayette Department Store; green X is Ritter Sport chocolate shop, and the red X is where I ate my lunch, under the trees.  This visual view gives a sense of the enormity of the square.

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Gendarmenmarkt is a huge square, with two churches on either side of the Concert Hall.  According to my guidebook (Rick Steves’ Berlin), the name  — part French and part German — comes from Gens d’Armes, Frederick the Great’s royal guard, who were headquartered here.  In the 17th century, “a fifth of all Berliners were French émigrés.”

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The Concert Hall is in the center, and I loved that some group was posed on the red-carpeted steps for a group photo.  This square is busy.

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This is to the right of the concert hall as you face it, and is the French Cathedral. The church on the other side is known as the German Cathedral, “bombed flat in the war and rebuilt only in the 1980s” (guidebook).  They look remarkably the same, and unbelievably, even though I have multiple photos of this square, I couldn’t figure out which was which.

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Buildings on my way home.

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When I arrive back at the hotel, there is a helicopter circling overhead.  I guess security is tight for his visit.

Next post: Last Looks at Berlin • Part 2

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