Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 65: Museums and Lights

After getting a late start to the morning, we decided to skip the farmers market. We really don't have any current food needs. We still have all those dips/spreads from last week since we didn't have any guests at the house to help us eat them up. The only really thing we want is bread. But, we decide we can get that elsewhere, so no need to make a trip to the farmers market.

Chris attempts to find a local DHL package store. We're thinking of sending home a few boxes of summer clothes and souvenirs so that we don't have to drag them to London. But, Chris couldn't find the storefront. Near his office, he has been to a DHL store that might work, but he has yet to find someone inside that store that speaks English which could make it tricky to find out all that we need to know. So for now, we're stuck until next week when more stores open and we have another chance to check it all out.

For lunch, we head north to Pizza Zia Maria. Thank goodness for nice workers. We ordered a few medium pizzas and they asked us, "Do you know the sizes of our pizzas?" He showed us what a medium would look like (too much food if we proceeded as planned) and we readjusted our order. It was just the right amount and it was amazingly yummy. Thin crust, crispy, and super flavourful cheese. Everyone was happy.

And then we became even happier as we finally got to try Hokey Pokey, an ice cream shop recommended by one of Chris' coworkers. It has been very important to this coworker that we try this place. Every week she asks if we've been able to get there. Due to its location (north and not the way we tend to travel much) we haven't been to it. Anytime we're near, it seems it's late a night, too late for an ice cream stop. But today, it's perfect timing! And, wow. It is AMAZING ice cream. It is the best we've had on this entire trip. I already want to go back. I can now understand why Chris' coworker has wanted us to come here. I can understand how it's her favourite place. We sit and enjoy our ice cream for as long as we can savour it.

Diana's ButterKaramel (left), Venice's Banana Peanut (middle-left)
Chris' BananaCrunch (middle-right) and the kids enjoying their treats (right)

Full of tasty treats, we headed back south with the intent of visiting the Altes Museum, one of five museums on Museum Island (really, an island in the middle of the river Spree). When we arrive (25 min later) people are thirsty (of course I left the water at home) and in need of a restroom. Chris wouldn't mind a coffee either. So, we search the craft fair that is going on in the streets nearby, but don't find anything. We head into the Museum Café. While Venice and I use the ladies room, Chris and Xander find a seat in the crowded café. When we find them again, no one has stopped by to take any order. It doesn't seem like we can order at the counter. This could take a VERY long time and we don't want to linger that long. So, we leave.

Random photo of a cute little car with fall leaves on it (left)
Chris taking a photo of a statue whose head is... in a building? (right)

We head to the Altes Museum (which has a café of its own) and get our tickets. As I asked for two audio tours, I guess my German was good enough that he gave me two audio tours in German. I asked, if they were in English (Sind Sie Englisch?) He looked at me funny, no... did you want English? Ja... ok... he flipped a few switches, and presto, I have two audio tours in English. Duh. Next time I will ask for two in English (makes sense).

The items in this museum are incredible. Most are real, some are plaster replicas, but most are real artifacts (as far as I can tell from the descriptions)... I choose to believe. So they are real! Anyway, cool Greek, Roman, and Etruscan statues, burial items, coins, and jewelry to view.

The Altes Museum (top)
Stonework (left), Artemis or Apollo (middle)
My favourite of the day. Loved how the stone carver created
such a flowing garment on this woman (right)

Some of you have commented on how well we're all traveling. And for the most part, I agree! However, it does takes it's toll on all of us in different ways. We often discuss how Xander, with the smallest stride, must take a lot more steps than the rest of us when we walk all day. The kids get tired of all the walking and standing (as do we adults). You can see them taking a break below.

The kids taking a break at the café (left) and a statue that we thought looked a lot like Trump (right)

After the Altes Museum, we headed to the Berliner Dom (The Berlin Cathedral) to tour the inside. However, when we got to the ticket area, we found out that viewing was limited, due to services being held. Prices were reduced, but not significantly as viewing was reduced. We decided to not go in and to either skip it or wait until we could see the entire inside (on another day). I think the kids (and their feet) were secretly happy we turned around.

Outside of the Berliner Dom

Ok, so it's 5:30. Decision time. Facts: The Festival of Lights begins at 6pm. But that's "mostly dark" and we want to see the lights when it's "really dark". Also, if we wait, we'll be hungry. But if we go eat dinner, then we have to travel to dinner and then back again, as we really want to see the Berliner Dom all lighted up. But, no one's truly hungry yet.

A  beautiful walkway on Museum Island
We decide to head towards a ramen restaurant, via Alexander Platz (for a last minute purchase at the Galleria before the stores close for the weekend). We arrive. We purchase. We leave. And guess what we see as we walk out of the building... more jumpers! Remember, Kuch mag Alex, ich kann fliegen!?  (also remember that Alexander Platz is also commonly called, "Alex".) Anyway, we see that someone has just jumped and we hope there will be another. I get my camera ready.

Do you remember how I got a photo, but not a video? Well, I forgot to mention that when Venice and I came out of the Galleria, we saw another jumper. I readied my camera to take a video.. and damn it. I took photos again. No video. I really don't understand. So, I'm ready this time, with video.

Only... damn it! It's on photo again. How does it keep NOT taking video? My clumsy hands... or Murphy's Law. I don't know. I don't care. I'm just mad that I didn't get video. The good news is that Chris and Xander got to see the jumper. We had explained it a lot, but seeing it in person made them exclaim out loud... it is that impressive of a jump! Ok, on to dinner (as I drag my "disappointed I didn't get the video" self along).

When we arrive at the ramen restaurant, the line is out the door and we are at least 15th in line. Reassess. Chris takes us to a tapas restaurant. There is no line or wait, but all the tables are reserved. We are, again, asked if we can eat within an hour? Of course! Then come on in! Asian tapas! Yum! They are incredibly tasty and very fast. So we have no problem eating quickly.

With our hour up, we hop on a tram and head back to where we were earlier in the day. Back to the Berliner Dom for the Festival of Lights. Guess who's there at the Berliner Dom waiting for us? Hint: See the middle photo below (lighted Segways!)

An "80s" style-laser show on the side of the Galleria (left)
Segways participating in the Festival of Lights (middle)
Humboldt-University Berlin (right)

The Berliner Dom's 12 different views

It amazes me how, if you just go towards the lighted building, it can seem very crowded, almost too many people to move. But if you go just a few yards farther in, you will almost have an unobstructed view. So worth those extra few yards!

Faculty of Law - Humboldt University Berlin

The Palais Am Festungsgraben (a concert hall) had a few colourful landscapes to add to our visual delights. According to the webpage, "In the context of this anniversary, there is another special illumination: With a call for participation, photographs were collected, combined in an artistic collage and projected onto the facade of the Palais am Festungsgraben. With a little bit of luck you might recognise your own picture…"

Palais Am Festungsgraben

And we ended our Festival of Lights at Hotel de Rome, which featured a "far eastern" style (I would call it "Asian").

Hotel de Rome

One of the big projectors used at the
lighted sights. Pretty cool stuff.

There are a few lights we didn't get to. Thats ok. We saw a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you Festival of Lights! And in Xander's words, "Why don't more cities do this?"

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