Monday, December 12, 2011

This Year's Berlin Trip

The train is approaching Berlin's central station
Berlin, near the central station
J and I spend a weekend in Berlin every December to celebrate our cousin's Birthday. Some parts of Berlin look really somber in this light, but as a Berlin weekend means a lot of walking and riding on suburban trains, I was rather glad that temperatures were above freezing point. In some parts, Berlin looks as if the war had ended 10 years ago, not 56.

Noon in Spandau (looks like evening, doesn't it?)
We reached the city at noon -- you wouldn't believe it if you see the Spandau picture left.
After all, we are on the same latitude as James Bay, Canada.

These old houses have double windows
"Israeru'no Miyage dessu"
 I gave an angel to H, our host's wife. It was made by Yael in Israel, and H who comes from Japan was enchanted by the angel's naive charms and bright smile. So here's the guardian of a huge flat in a 1900 house in Berlin's quiet suburb Friedenau which means "Meadow of Piece". You can see H in a pic below, drinking hot wine punch.

A star on top of each tent
A Berlin Xmas Tree
And off we went to the Xmas market on "Gendarmenmarkt" ("Police Square") which is a lovely ensemble of 18th century churches and other buildings. The buildings were heavily damaged during WWII, but have been perfectly reconstructed. The entrances are guarded by "Gens dArmes" in historical costumes.
J seems to be listening to a sad story
Here, we had "Gluehwein" -- hot wine punch --, and I had an egg punch which I found pretty strong. My husband gives a funny glance, but he is not shocked, just listening to the conversation. You can imagine how noisy the crowd was.
Smoking Gun
And I caught my husband smoking a cigarillo which he does once a year (or 2 onces, maybe), but never at home. He pretends to have a bad conscience, as you see.
There was a stage on the market where young girls performed a ballet with the music of Caikovsky's "Nutcracker", it was quite enchanting, but much too crowded to get closer. So I shot this picture with a zoom in very dim light, holding my camera above people's heads. Berlin is having a large number of emigrants from Russia (mostly Jewish), so there is some culture worth mentioning establishing again.

"Nutcracker" ballet

The market was so crowded that I did not even have a chance to see the shops -- or rather: I almost panicked, honestly. I made an appointment with my friends to meet me in a near café and fled from the crowd. There was a queue of 200 yards length, people waiting to get in, so it was getting even worse.

Brunch with a lot of kids
Next morning, we had a brunch with friends and kids, also Japanese friends of H, then J and I started for another item on our agenda, modern art.
"Berlinische Galerie" -- Museum of Modern Art
We took another suburban train to visit a museum by the old-fashioned name "Berlinische Galerie". After all these walks (and Berlin stations often don't have escalators!) we were done and tired, got back to our hosts to pick our luggage, had a good-bye tea, and they saw us to the station.

Some of you have requested to publish a video of my ukulele play, but I haven't got the technical means. I'm working on it.

P.S. A technical hint. I switched off the light box for my blog which can be done under "settings" -- in case you don't like it either.


Ms. said...

Hello dear Eva--Verlin does look dark and isn't travel exhausting. i always prefer to go and nest in a place for at least 10 days, more when it can be managed, to have down time and sink in to the real flavor away from tourist crowds and long lines. hope you are resting now and will have a lovely holiday season. happy solstice on the 21st and may the sun shine for you.

Yael said...

Eva, I love how the angel fits in with all that lovely Christmas decoration at the window sill!
And I can relate to your panicking - it happens to me in a large crowd too!
I can see you enjoyed your weekend in Berlin, I am glad! I was hoping to see you in a photo though! :-)

Chris Gray said...

How I envy you those lovely Christmas markets!

...we only have "pretend" ones here...

Cheap stuff priced too high!

Unknown said...

Crowds can be so frustrating and overwhelming. I enjoyed these glimpses f your trip to Berlin, thanks for taking us along, and merry Christmas to you and your family. -sus

ArtSparker said...

Lovely feel of a walk in the Marketplatz. I can't bear crowds either - where anything involves large amounts of people wanting to get in somewhere, I want to be somewhere else.