After coffee time, we headed to our dinner destination. No reservations, but we're going on the idea that we're early. Seems to work every time.
As we near the area of the restaurant, we notice the street ahead has multiple polizei cars blocking the street. We try to go around, so as to avoid whatever's happening. Only, when we round the corner on the other side, there are more polizei. No one seems to be panicking, no one seems to be "alert", they just seem to be blocking car traffic. Pedestrians are strolling within this "boundary" of polizei. We did have to go about half a block past the barricade, but we never did see what was going on. We did hear someone on a megaphone. We're guessing some sort of rally? Again, no one sounded too energised or angry, so a peaceful rally? We arrived safely to our destination and there were plenty of places to sit.
Chris had heard of this restaurant (Zur kleinen Markthalle) from a friend. Supposedly the crispy Chicken here is really good. Crispy Chicken is a popular dish, here in Germany, and is usually sold as a 1/2 chicken plate (1/2 Backhendl or baked chicken). Because dinner is so early today, we're not as hungry as we'd like to be. You know, to enjoy more food! So, we only order a few dishes to share, including a warm, freshly cooked pretzel. Funny thing, Chris asks, "How big is the pretzel?" The server looked confused as she said to us, "It's pretzel-sized." Ha! Just for the record, it seemed smaller than pretzel size (at least smaller than some of those giant ones we see at the stands), but perhaps it was the size of a normal, every-day pretzel.
The Festival of Lights began last night and will run for two weeks. We headed out to see some of the places tonight, hoping to cross a few off the list (there are over 20 spots with lights). We began at Potsdamer Platz, because I wanted to see "The House of Cards". Most of the lights are on the sides of buildings, but this one is three-dimensional in the middle of the sidewalk. The artists are from a German-Israeli group who are depicting "50 years of German-Israeli relations".
|Building near Potsdamer Platz, with "fruit" lights (left), Street in Potsdamer Platz (middle-left)|
The "Rolling Balls" with sound effects display (middle-right), Potsdamer Platz (right)
When we arrived at "The House of Cards", they were dark. Turned off. A man was inside the "House" fiddling with, what looked like, 1,000 cords. We walked down the street for a bit, taking in other lights around the area, when we looked back and "The House of Cards" was fixed! Wahoo! The lights were flashing, on-off, here there, and then fully lit (then the routine would repeat). Cool.
After enjoying "The House of Cards" for a while, we turned around to watch a display on the side of a building in the same "square". This one was a video showing different kinds of balls rolling, plunking, and spinning through a contraption of sorts. All the while we could hear the loud sound effects accompanying the display. Xander was mesmerised.
But, the cold weather, and our patience urged us to move along to the Brandenburger Tor. I thought Potsdamer Platz was crowded... oh boy! The Brandenburger Tor was super, duper crowded. From the S-Bahn exit to the gate measures at least a football field, if not more. It was packed from the moment we stepped out of the Bahn and up to the street level. We wove our way around and about, trying to see if we could get a better view (poor Xander is shorter than us and we needed to find a place where he could still see).
Interestingly, once we got into the thick of the crowd... it actually started to thin out and we found a great spot to hang out and watch the show.
|Images by Noir displaying on the Brandenburger Tor|
The display on the Brandenburger Tor is a video comprised of 6 finalists' entries. The theme is "Vision of Energy". Germany was one of the finalists (perhaps they were "favoured" to get in) and was super fun with all the "Berlin" references (Buddy Bears, faces by the artist Noir, the Fernsehturm, the World Clock... and more). I think the other countries were Hungary, Poland, France, Australia, and Austria. Each had about a 2 minute show with their interpretation of "Vision of Energy". There were lightning strikes, windmills, green trees growing, flowers, geometric shapes.. and all sorts of other ideas in the 6 presentations.
|I think these are all from the German finalists.|
This program would repeat. We came in the middle of the last finalist, so we waited a few minutes and the program began again, this is when we learned about the different finalists and theme. Lots of appropriate oohs and ahhs from the audience. Lots of people putting their cameras on tripods to record video. Lots of people taking photos, of course (look at the video below and you can see all the glowing smartphones).
|I don't remember which country created these amazing scenes. Lightning (top)|
Beautiful colours (bottom), possibly from Austria.
After the Brandenburger Tor performance, we headed through the gate and around the back to see the American Consulate's display. Well, I will grant that anyone following the Brandenburger Tor performance is probably doomed to fail in impressing anyone. But boy, the American Consulate's display was pretty boring. It was politically correct... and static. We should have visited this one first, then we wouldn't be so disappointed.
The upside is that we got to see one of the "lighted guides" walking around in her suit of lights (she had controls that could make a smiley face on her back, flashing lights, coloured lights, etc.) on her metal stilts. We also happened to cross paths with a Buddy Bear dressed to look like the Statue of Liberty (and bonus, "She" had a pink ribbon saran wrapped around her bosom).
|"Statue of Liberty" Buddy Bear (left), American Consulate (middle), Lighted Guide (right)|
It's late. It's cold. It's time to return home. We have to forge our way back through the crowds to find the S-Bahn station.
It is at this moment, so close to being "done" for the night, that Xander trips and falls, twisting his ankle. His reaction guarantees something big happened. But then he calms down quickly, which helps me believe nothing is broken. We offer to carry him home, but he refuses and he sadly limps to the Bahn. Chris thinks quickly and I have Advil in my purse. Xander takes it and we hope it's enough, we have big plans for tomorrow and we'd like to keep them!
He's grateful to get into bed with the thoughts, "Of the lights we got to see, I liked the Brandenburg Gate the best."