Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 55: The Reichstag

There are items that you miss only when you really need or want them. I've already mentioned a blender (for all my older fruit... all the missed smoothies...) and maybe a mixer (I've been making muffins and cookies by hand, no electric mixer... brings back a few times in my childhood when we did this). Today, I'm missing my sewing machine. I so rarely use it these days, but today, I miss it. One of my jackets is tearing in the pocket. Good thing I figured it out before my phone or house key slipped through! And, bad me, I know a travel sewing kit should always be on your list... but I didn't bring one. So I will live with my holes for a month and only use the right pocket while ignoring the other holes in the sleeves.

Xander's headphones had broken. We didn't find any in the stores that we were visiting, so we decided to buy them on and have them shipped to Chris' work. Xander has been watching and asking every day... and today, they arrived! On the way to lunch, we went to Chris' work to pick them up (so Xander wouldn't have to wait until tomorrow to use them).

Today, Xander picked our lunch spot... the Chinese restaurant whose cart we patronised at the Reunification celebration. I forgot it was at Alexanderplatz and had us heading towards Hackescher Markt... Again, I got too confident in my navigation skills. Good thing Xander remembered where it was and we corrected our paths and made it there just fine. We got the food for Take Away and headed home to enjoy our food in the comfort of our own dining room.

While the kids were resting, I headed to the market. I'm getting pretty good and knowing where things are now. Finding flour the first time too 20 minutes reading and translating all the different packages. Now, I can find it within 2 minutes. Yay for learning! There are times, when I'm feeling pretty good about myself and my skills that I really yearn to learn German. To be able to hold a conversation. To understand when someone asks me a question. To understand the announcements on public transportation. But then, there are days when I'm feeling tired and I hear a conversation nearby happening at a rapid pace when I think, ugh, it's so hard. I could never reach that level without a crap-ton of practice and time. And Steve Martin's, "It's like those French have a different word for everything," comes to mind, exhausting me at the prospect.

Anyway, subject change. Today's the day we visit the Reichstag. (basically what the building is called) which houses the Bundestag (parliament). This building has a long history and was restored after reunification for the location of the Bundestag of the newly unified Germany. The glass dome at the top, is the only "new" architecture and symbolises transparency of the government for the German people. After reunification, transparency has been extremely important to the German people and seems to be a theme.

The two photos on the left were taken by Venice.
I think I'll take photos of the Brandenburg Gate every time we pass by it. It is a cool landmark.

Chris left from work and we left from home, set to meet at the front of the Reichstag. Admissions are free to this building, again, I think this is part of the transparency theme. The Germans want their government accessible to all. While you do not need to pay to get in (even the audio tour is free), you do need to make an appointment (schedule your visit). They do limit the numbers allowed in the Dome at one time as well as, I think, they check that you aren't a "bad dude." You have to give names, birthdays, etc. of everyone who wants admission and you must show your ID (passport) at the entrance.

Unfortunately, this is something you much plan ahead of time. I saw a few people get turned away as there were only times at the 9pm slot open for the rest of the day, until the next day. And/or people didn't have their passports with them. Glad we found this out ahead of time and I was able to apply online to set our reservation. And P.S. They can cancel at anytime due to parliament being in session or some other event. Good thing our time was not canceled.

Walking from the Brandenburger Tor to the Reichstag.

Side note: The security guard who checked our IDs had a really hard time with Xander's name. I should have said, "Like the fish Zander," but it happened too fast. By the time I was able to assess his light (versus super serious-all-business kind of manner he exuded at first) attitude, we were already through. But he kept saying, "Ks-ander," really pronouncing the "X" (like in the word "axe"). I think he would have appreciated my "fish" reference.

Front of the Reichstag (left)
Memorial in remembrance of the murdered and persecuted
members of the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic (top-right)
Inside the lobby of the Reichstag (bottom-right).

First the Fernsehturm day was cloudy and and now today. We made it through security and just got to the roof just as the rain (sprinkles) arrived. We walked around the roof first, knowing it would only get darker and wetter. We were able to get some views, but visibility was difficult at times. We did pick this time (right during dinner) so that we could watch the sunset while we were in the Dome. Doh!

Views from the top. EU and German flags (top-left), The Dome (top-middle), "The Population" (top-right)
The Brandenburger Tor (bottom-left), flag (bottom-middle), Family Selfie (bottom--right)

The kids skipped the audio tour, while Chris and I tried to figure the talking-units out. At first, we were worried they didn't work. But, instead, we found out they are magical little boxes. They only work when within the Dome. And, they are triggered by where you're standing. The audio tour guides you to walk up one way, and down another. As you pass by different "triggers", different historical facts are pumped into your ears.

The Dome
At the top of the Dome, there is no ceiling. It is open to the sky. Using creative architecture and science, rain that falls into the Dome is caught and sent down a giant metal silo. Air circulates up and out of the top, helping to regulate the freshness and temperature of the air inside. Mirrors in the middle of the Dome help to reflect the natural light, diminishing the reliance on electrical lights for Parliament.

At the top.
There was a little boy trying to copy Venice and Xander as we waited for him to move,
so we could take a photo without him. But I think the photo with him is cuter :)

Waving to Chris and Xander across the way (left)
Looking down into the "blue" seats for Parliament (right)

On our way home from the Reichstag, you walk through the Brandenburg Gate to get to the Bahn station. We were able to see "them" setting up for the Festival of Lights. So, of course, more photos of the gate in the rain (beautiful) and being lit up (beautiful).

In black and white and in the rain.

Setting up the lights (left) and seeing a bit of it on the gate (right)

Now that it's late, we realise we're all hungry. We head towards home and take a detour at a new restaurant "Supreme Burger," thinking, yummy burger joint... only to find that it's super fancy, high end. We spent more money than we planned, but the food was super delicious. Perhaps our enjoyment had to do with the hunger we had or feeling cozy on a rainy evening. Either way, we went home full, warm, and happy.

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