Yesterday was spent in it's entirety in Potsdam (a suburb of Berlin, but really it's the capital city of the State of Brandenburg). I'll blog about that later since I'll be going back to Potsdam later this week and can keep everything about there in one blog.
Today was more Berlin, but it came after a long conversation last night with The Scientist about our relationship - or lack-there-of anymore - and unfortunately, I was the instigator. I could feel it happening and I could see it in his face. I knew he was falling for me again and I just don't feel the same way anymore. So I needed to put a stop to it before his feelings got any more damaged than I knew they were already going to be. Yes, he's the one that left. But he's also the one who moved across an ocean and is a long way from home. I KNOW what loneliness looks like and feels like and tastes like, and he is so very lonely right now it kills me to see him hurting. But it is not a reason to fall back into the pattern of a relationship that wasn't working anyway for 3 weeks just so that we can leave each other all over again at the end of this trip. So I had to set the record straight. And he didn't like that very much. It was a long night for both of us - when he's upset he doesn't sleep and he was pacing the hall with the creaky wood floor all night long.
This morning was sombre at best. I got up, showered, got dressed and made my breakfast while he remained in bed. It's one thing to break up with a person and then go your separate ways and not see them again until you're ready for it (or maybe you're never ready for it). But try breaking up with a person that you then have to live with for the next 2 weeks, and not only live with, but try to have fun with. I have the utmost respect for this man right now. I broke his heart, and he's dealing with it. It's painful to watch - but it's also necessary to preserve our friendship. I love him dearly as a friend and I want him in my life - but we're not right together and we both know that. Time will heal the wounds. But right now we don't have time.
My plan was to catch the 10am walking tour of Berlin at the Zoo Station. I grabbed my tea and ran out the door at 5 minutes to 10am, knowing full-well that I was going to be late. Rule #1 - Don't be late in Germany. They like to follow the rules around here. I arrived at the stop at 10:07am. Not a soul in front of the meeting place. Drat. Missed the tour. The one I took in Paris sure as heck didn't start promptly, but you'd better believe it does here. Tomorrow I will be there at 9:30am...with bells on!
So overall, not a great start to the morning. But all was not lost! I knew where [The Story of Berlin] Museum was on the Ku'Damm so I headed over there to check it out. SO glad I did! This museum houses 800 years of the history of Berlin from it's beginnings as a shipping port through feast and famine and World Wars, to the building and then demolishing of The Wall - totally incredible. The museum spans 3 floors and includes a visit to a real live nuclear bomb shelter, known as "The Bunker" that was built during the Cold War. The top floor spans the years 1237-1930 and the tumultuous start of the now popular city. They've seen pretty much everything here - including a 3 wheeled car that was nicknamed for it's predilection for tipping over all the time:
The number of times that this city has been rebuilt for whatever reason is remarkable. Descend to the basement floor and you walk into the beginning of WWII and Hitler's reign followed by the rebuilding of the city into East and West Berlin and the building of the wall. Here's a couple of pictures of the division of Berlin by all the neighbouring countries and a really big bomb.
The whole museum was very interactive and had the most stunning visual and audio displays. The most chilling was walking into what was modeled after a gas chamber in a concentration camp (I can only imagine that my trip to Dachau in a few days is going to be just as memorable) and then seeing the rebuilt wall while watching video montages of the people on the West and then the people on the East. The museum owns 4 pieces of the original wall. There isn't much that still remains in Berlin at all besides these 4 pieces. Most of it was busted up by slabs and sold to the highest bidder in countries all over the world. Here's the part that's left:
All in, it took me 4 hours to see the whole museum. I read absolutely everything - I couldn't get enough history, it's all just so fascinating to me. But the best/creepiest part? Das Bunker. Built under an existing parking garage during the Cold War (unbeknownst to ANYONE actually living in the area) we were brought first through the airlock area that has a shower room.
Anyone coming into the bunker would be made to undress and shower and put on a German military outfit before entering. The Bunker was built to hold 3500 people in the occurrence of a nuclear bomb. Once we were let inside we saw this:
It's not a great picture, but that's row after row after row of sleeping cots lined up head to toe. We walked down a very long corridor and that's all you could see around you. SO CREEPY!
The next thing we were shown was a double layer automatic door that could shut off an area of the bunker if it were destroyed or was leaking radiation and the kitchen which only held rations enough for women, children and the elderly for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, everyone would have to leave and board buses out of the city because the radiation in the city center would still be too strong to survive...but what happens when the buses are destroyed by the bomb? An installation of a number of briefcases was hung over what looked to be a small sitting area. Our guide explained that this wasn't actually part of the bunker but was a reminder of the propaganda of the time that stated "Everyone Has A Chance" - to save themselves against a nuclear attack. When studying the affects of the bomb on Japan, they noted that men carrying briefcases who crouched down and held the briefcase over their heads were less torched than everyone else. Hence the "duck and cover" strategy. Oy vey! Next we were walked through the facilities and shown the bathrooms, the emergency room (with only 2 gurneys for 3500 people) and the air filtration room. The bunker was designed to be about 86 degrees at all times, warmed only by body heat of the people in there. Humidity would be high and the air filtration system was designed to give people only the amount of oxygen they needed to survive. The thought being that if they could keep everyone in a hot, humid climate for 2 weeks, there would be less wide spread panic since all you would be able to do is sleep, eat and use the bathroom. Sounds AWESOME. Remember LOST and "The Hatch"? That looked like a PICNIC in comparison to this thing...yikes!
By this time my feet were really starting to kill me and I had lost my daylight, so I decided to walk back to a little corner restaurant that's around the block from the apartment for some dinner. I brought my tour books with me and enjoyed the most delectable lamb chops, potatoes, bacon wrapped green beans and garlic butter with a large stein of beer. Since I hadn't stopped for lunch, I figured all of this was perfectly legal :) I took my time and read my book and planned where to go to next. I debated just going home and resting my weary feet for the evening, looking at my pictures and writing my blog, but something was calling to me and I sucked in a big breath of determination and made up my mind to go back out into the world. I decided on a visit to Alexanderplatz and Nikolaiviertel and bid goodnight to the waiter. As I was walking up the street to the nearest U-Bahn stop I heard my name. The Scientist was home early from work and just happened to be walking the same street as me...in the middle of Berlin. Our greeting was awkward after this morning, but I was really happy to see him. I asked if he wanted to come with me an he agreed, so off we went. And here's where we ended up:
There are too many beautiful photos of tonight to even begin to share them all, but in brief, what you're looking at there is the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) - the second tallest building in Europe. At the base of this tower is Marienkurche - the second oldest church in Berlin (I'm sensing a theme here).
Alexanderplatz is the park that surrounds these monuments and in the park was yet another Christmas Market! (We went to one yesterday in Potsdam as well, so it's actually becoming funny now that there are so many here - about 15 total in the city!) This market was different from all the other though in that it has pony rides and a HUGE Ferris wheel and some other original things that we haven't yet seen. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the evening.
Do you SEE what I'm up against here people? OMG I cannot even tell you what this booth smells like...
This is the Rathaus "Town Hall" at the base of Alexanderplatz. It's known as the "Red Town Hall" - not for anything Soviet, but because of the colour of the bricks used to build it.
At this point we started walking again towards to historic Nikolai Quarter in search of this building:
The Wirtshaus zum Nussbaum that was made famous by this painting by Heinrich Zille:
It's just as it appears, no?
The Nikolai Quarter is gorgeous - especially at night and with all the Christmas lights lit. It was completely destroyed in the war, but was rebuilt for Berlin's 750th Anniversary, so it appears as it once did. We ended our night walking around and snapping a few more shots:
Nikolaikurche - St. Nicholas Church is THE oldest church in the city. Built at the founding of Berlin in the 1200s.
The final shot is looking down the very cold River Spree towards the BerlinerDom - a great shot to end the evening.
Whatever made me get up out of that restaurant at that point in time and walk down the street to find The Scientist walking my way I will never know. But I'm so glad we found each other and got a chance to spend the evening together. However this day started, he is still one of my best friends and has been for the 2 years that we were together. This is not the end of something, but the beginning of something new. I have hope for us yet. And tomorrow is another day...in Berlin!