Batti le mani
We had some trouble figuring out how to divide our time in Berlin – a city which Brendan immediately took to, but which took me while to accept. We ended up in the Berlinische Galerie or the “Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur”. Located in an otherwise banal neighbourhood, its design is phenomenal. Intensely high rooms, and striking paintings, sculptures and designs. A big recommendation to anyone who visits the city. We also caught the Foto Museum, which had mostly Helmut Newton stuff and then returned to the hostel for another dinner with Valerio. He first took us out for mojitos and then brought us to an African restaurant in the middle of a squatter community. When the waiter arrived, him and Valerio had a swift conversation in Italian – apparently Eritrea’s a former colony of Italy’s? You learn something new every day. The boys feasted on zebra and ostrich while I stuck to the less exotic but equally mouthwatering lamb and couscous. Germany – Portugal was on that night, so after dinner we crossed the street and joined groups of people who were watching the game on big screen TVs on the sidewalk. I wandered around a bit (I care about football, I do, I just can’t focus on it for very long) and came across a wine store. It was filled with people, in their late twenties or early thirties, clearly a tight group of friends. The door was open. The store window took up the entire front of the house. One guy was standing outside, holding up the electrical wire cause of a “contact issue”. There was a pram inside with a sleeping baby. Everyone holding a glass of white wine. Such a tender picture. Here are old friends, most of them probably married or at least paired off, some with kids. Getting together at their friend’s wine store and chilling out. True happiness.
After the game we took the train to Ostbahnhof and found a club which had 4 different DJs on that night. I wasn’t in the partying mood, but definitely enjoyed just sitting back, observing and chatting to people. At the back of the club, seats had been set up outside to look over the water and I had a great conversation with Valerio there. About Berlin and how the city was frustrating me. About loneliness. About people in your life. About travelling. About pasts and futures and certainties. About how choosing is losing. By the end of the night, as the sun was coming up again, I had found some peace again. Life is what you make of it, and all I can do is be grateful for what comes my way and strive for what doesn’t. Trust what I know, but continue to learn.
Got up late on Sunday, wandered down to the Libeskind designed Jewish Museum and to Checkpoint Charlie (again, how sad that this significant place has just become another tourist shot background with a gift shop attached). At Under den Linden we found a big collection of ceramic bears (they have them with cows and moose as well) – each one representing another country (http://www.united-buddy-bears.com/de/bears/showall.php?lang=en&bbbyear=2006)
This bullet-riddled one is from Serbia...
This one's Vietnam's entry. On the bear's leg it says "Who doesn't love, doesn't live"
Around five, we made our way down to the Fan Fest at Brandenburger Tor. We met up with Valerio who provided us with face paint and the colours of the Italian banieri and before too long we were surrounded by avid fans (“Qui no sotto e francese!”). The heat was ridiculous, the crowd huge, personal space none and the game tense till the very last minute. Henry’s crash, Zidane’s short fuse, the penalty kicks – dio mio. Brendan took some great shots from the crowd, the fireworks and ourselves, so I’ll post some when he sends them over.
We went our separate ways for a bit on the last day. Brendan went on a walking tour, but my feet made it perfectly clear they wanted to take things very slowly (standing up for about 5 hours straight the night before did not help) so I strolled along the Potsdam area, had more sushi (my last chance!) and went to the Guggenheim museum (“Art of Tomorrow” by Hilla von Rebay and Solomon Guggenheim. Suffice to say I spent more time in the gift shop, enjoying a delicious coffee and flipping through art books than I did in the actual museum). We met up again for dinner, found a cheap but tasty Vietnamese restaurant and talked deep into the night over a glass of Merlot. It’s been a good run. Thank you for sharing yourself with me. Be well.