This is part of my trilogy of posts about the Fulbright Berlin Seminar. See the first post for an introduction. This post is about being a tourist.
Let me get this out of the way: I found Berlin to be a very ugly city. It felt sprawling, dirty, and architecturally unappealing. That said, it has some beautiful monuments and churches and tons of interesting museums, so it wasn’t a bad place to be for a conference. I used every spare moment to visit things in the city. While I certainly didn’t see it all (I most notably omitted the Reichstag, but I really could have used a few more days for museums, too), I think I did a pretty good job of sightseeing given the time I had!
Berlin is full of historical monuments and memorials, some dating back to the Prussian years and others commemorating the Cold War and the city’s divisions.
The Dome is a large and centrally located church with (predictably) a big dome. It’s very pretty on the inside, but more importantly, you can climb the dome and get fabulous views of the city. We (accidentally) managed to time our visit to coincide with sunset, so it was doubly beautiful.
Berlin supposedly has over 170 museums. I didn’t see all of them! But I did get a day ticket to the Museuminsel (“museum island”) and spend a long afternoon there with various artistic and archeological treasures. The New Museum with the bust of Nefertiti was closed, as was the wing of the Pergamon Museum with the famous Pergamon Altar. But there were lots of other impressive sights in the other wings of the Pergamon Museum and in the Old Museum. (We weren’t as impressed by the paintings in the National Gallery, which were mostly very dark and German.) Lions became a bit of a theme—because they were so popular in ancient art, I ended up getting photographs with lots of them!
My favorite thing I visited was actually something I didn’t get any pictures of—the Turkish market near Schönleinstraße. I sampled lots of foods, chatted with a vendor in Italian, and bought a whole mango (for just one Euro!), which I ate on the spot. I also got to eat a grab bag of Turkish delights and some very unhealthy fried dough and cheese. I couldn’t resist the flavored honey I sampled (particularly the salted caramel flavor), so I bought some to bring back to Munich. I marvelled at the cheap, pretty fabrics, scarves, doorknobs, and gloves and wished I had such a market near me!
Berlin was fun, but it’s good to be home. Not for long, though: on Monday, I’m off to Bratislava!