Saturday, September 04, 2004

From Lithuania I nipped into Berlin, Germany, I had hoped to catch the Sunday flight to Ulaan Baatar, but it was full and I had to wait for the Tuesday flight. This gave me a very long weekend in Berlin. I bought a three day pass for Berlin’s huge network of city trains and subways and wandered around the city’s various far-flung neighborhoods. I started each morning, however, at Potsdamerplatz, in what was old East Berlin but which is fast becoming the new center of the city. Great coffee shops, which open at six on the morning, and good internet cafes.

Of course just east of Potsdamerplatz is the Kulturforum, a collection of various museums and concert halls. I mosied into the Gemaldegalerie, a musuem packed with Old Masters paintings. I especially wanted to see the paintings by Botticelli. These have been reproduced to often its hard to believe you are actually looking at the originals, especially since the paint is so crisp and clear they look like they were painted just yesterday instead of five hundred years ago.

One of Botticelli's famous ladies

Of course, several works by Caravaggio are also found here:

A Caravaggio Boy Toy

Walking from Potsdamerplatz to the Brandenburg Gate I went by the site of the old Furhrerbunker, the underground shelter where Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Supposedly his body was doused with gasoline and burned here, although of course that remains a highly contentious subject. Now a memorial to Jews who died in the Holocaust is being built on the site of the old Furhrerbunker, a development which would surely make Hitler spin in his grave, if only he had a grave in which to spin.

Jewish Memorial on the site of the Furhrerbunker

Just past the Brandenburg Gate (whose official reopening I, along with Bill Clinton - we stayed in different hotels - had attended two years ago) is the Reichstag. A holiday atmosphere now prevails at this historic venue, with many people picnicing on the huge lawn just in front of the building. Lots of Japanese. They too got caught up in the events that transpired here back in the 1930s . . .

The Reichstag, once again the home of the German Parliament, just as it was in Hitler's day.

Then back down Unter den Linden, past the Adlon Hotel, now infamous as the hotel from which Michael Jackson dangled one of his danglings.

Adlon Hotel with its now infamous balconies, sans dangling