In love. Again. (Cont)

Finally the 3rd and last day in Berlin. I had to see as much as I could and I was completely rested after my 11 hour long “nap”. I was talking to Ange in the morning, about my plans for the day when I was introduced to Stephen. Stephen is an Australian artist who has been travelling for the last 6 months. He was in a car crash which made him question the meaning of life and so decided to go ahead and live it to the fullest. I wish I had the courage to do something like that.
 I decided to start my day with the Museum Island but I ended up in front of Markisches Museum. This was founded as the museum of the city. This hosts artefacts relating to the culture and history of Berlin. You could see the original working table and microscope of Alexander von Humboldt, something I was thrilled to see. The Humboldt brothers have contributed a lot to Germany and to the world and they are celebrated in the first room of this museum. There was the sweetest old man here, who was a museum staff. He spent a lot of time showing me around and giving tidbits of information.
Deeper inside you can see the troublesome images from World War 2 and during the division of the city. There was a room with various musical instruments and another staff member played a turnkey music box for me. I couldn’t stop smiling looking at it, felt like a little kid. He told me that I had one of the most beautiful smiles he had ever seen!! I love German old men!!
Next I started walking towards the Museum Insel and on the way stopped by at the Nikolaikirche, The Museum Knoblauchhaus, Ephraim Palace and Berliner Cathedral.

Nikolaikirche was beautiful but you had access only to the outer ring unless you paid an entry ticket of 5 Euros. This would let you go close to the altar and climb up the stairs to the spire which gives you a great view of Berlin around the Spree. I had a lot more places of interest to cover, so I decided to skip it. Next, I went to the Museum Knoblachhaus. This is a beautiful typical Berliner home erected in the 1760s. Surprisingly this escaped any damage during world war. The Knoblauch family was a very prominent member of the Berlin society and contributed multiple merchants, politicians and scientists. Alexander von Humboldt was a very close friend and you can see the room he used to stay at, still with most of his possessions and furniture. 

I was shown around by the gorgeous Natalia who had the cutest accent. She was extremely friendly and told me about Ephraim Palais which was exhibiting photographs from the time of the city’s division. She told me stories about the personal suffering of some families separated during the division. She told me about how the Nazis, the world war and the division are still very dark topics for Germans and probably would never be able to completely leave it behind.

When I was leaving, she asked me if I was an Indian. When I answered in affirmative, she said, that’s why I was so beautiful. See!! Why are we Indians so stuck up on fair skin and trying to look like something we aren’t meant to? We are gorgeous! And, what makes us more gorgeous is our values and traditions which are imbibed in us. I am not talking about religion or practices. It’s about the manners, the readiness to help, the love for our family and friends. And, somebody please shut me up now!!
Phew! Control! Well, back to the topic. Ephraim Palais was built in the 1760s and is considered one of the prettiest buildings of Berlin. And, I thought so too, with its golden gilded balconies and the grand staircase, it does look like a house out of fairy tales. The exhibition was wonderful. To see real images and videos from the most infamous times of not only Berlin, but the entire world. To see, how people lived, felt and went through was incredible. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take my camera inside but they did give me a booklet with all the images. There was a small section where you could hear a collection of songs, German and English from different eras, through the World War to the fall of the wall. It was great!

Next I walked up to the Berliner Dom or the Berlin cathedral. What a gigantic, splendid structure! The central cathedral is humongous with gorgeous ceiling frescoes and stained glass windows. You have to pay an entry ticket, with which you can access the higher levels and see some of the models of the various buildings. You can take a walk on the outer walkway which gives a splendid view of the city, but unfortunately the day I visited it was extremely windy and was deemed dangerous to walk on that. I had a great time standing on the park opposite to it and playing with my camera lenses to get pictures of the dome. The park was full of people relaxing and having a picnic. It would have been ideal to do that if I had a companion.

Next to the Museum Island or Museum Insel. There are five museums here. Altes Museum, Neue Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum, Pergamon Museum. The tickets for each range between 18 to 22 Euros. I decided to skip all this and move to Yaam, the reggae bar.

Yaam is one of the most famous hangouts in Berlin. A super chilled out reggae bar on the banks of the Spree. Its bang opposite the Berlin Ostbahnof or the main train station. Situated in the Kreuzeberg area which is hailed as the alternative district of Berlin, this place is a must visit. My day was already going great and now it got better.

There is a very nominal entry, I think 3 Euros, I don’t remember anymore. As you enter you are welcomed by multiple mini restaurants. Well, they aren’t exactly restaurants. Each serves 2-3 dishes but all serve Jamaican food. I walked in towards the beach area, wanting to explore first. The walls are completely covered with some kick ass graffiti which were made as a part of street art competition earlier this year. There is a cute little robot made of scraps and is a favourite for photographs. Two Italian men walking right in front of me were trying to take a selfie with it, I offered to take their picture and as a thanks they returned the favour.

The seating inside is great. You have wooden benches to sit and drink at or lounge chairs and beach beds. There is a kiddie corner and a mini basketball court. Young kids were making bubbles and playing around. People were having a great time there. Sundays are special days at Yaam with a special event, DJ or concert. I was instantly in love with this place. Frankly I don’t know much of the new age reggae bands. My knowledge is limited to Bob Marley. But, reggae just makes you feel like you are sitting in the sun, happy, grooving to music. You don’t need to know the artists. But, everyone apart from me, knew each and every track and were lip syncing to it.

I decided to grab something to eat and went back to the eating section. I ordered a Jamaican shrimp curry with Cassava and Rice. One of the guys working at Yaam came and joined me at my table just chit chatting. He had come to India couple of decades ago and was happy to talk about it. He dubbed me “pretty lady”and refused to call me by my name. I had a “Hello pretty lady”  “How are you pretty lady” etc etc by almost everyone at the bar by the end of the evening. Once back at my table, the Italian man, whose picture I had clicked offered to buy me a drink. I protested a bit. I really didn’t know what one is supposed to do. Is it rude to completely refuse? In India, I won’t think twice. Refusal is usually the smartest thing to do. But, I was not in India. I gave in and he bought me a drink. And, then the deluge began. I had more drinks on my table than I could count. I decided to leave before I got drunk and completely lost my mind.

Next onto my final place to see in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie is the famous Berlin wall crossing point between and East and West Germany. This became a symbol of the cold war. After the reunification of Germany, this has become a tourist attraction. You have struggling, immigrant actors pretending to be American soldiers. For 1 Euro, you can pose with them and take pictures, which I obviously did. They have standard three poses. Arm linked (if a woman or arms around the shoulder for a man), Salute and a thumbs up which they call “Facebook Like”

 After I was done with my pictures, as I was packing my camera in, a man comes and says hello. And, then the usual, “How are you?, Where are you from?”. I politely respond. He tells me I am gorgeous and asks me out for a drink. And, this is where my stupidity began. You see, I was quite buzzed and very high on all the attention I had gotten at Yaam. I keep refusing. He is quite persistent so, I agree to have a coffee in a café right opposite to Checkpoint Charlie. We go in and sit and I have a hot chocolate. We are generally talking about our families and country. This mad man was a Macedonian, and after a while started trying to act extra comfortable. I tell him I got to leave and get out of there. And then the psycho stalker comes out. He followed me to the subway station, in the subway and up till my hostel, begging me all the way to just let him give me a kiss. My hostel did not have a board outside as the building was undergoing renovation and, after 2 in the afternoon the hostel door was locked and we had to enter from the adjoining store’s entrance. When I went into that store, he kept standing outside for a good 10 minutes cause he thought I was trying to fool him. He expected me to come out after a few minutes. Well, not my first stalker, but been a while since I had one. 😀
When I reached the hostel door, I couldn’t unlock it with my key and I had to ring the bell. The face that opened that door!!!! Can I wrap up that face and take it home? Can I keep that smile with me and celebrate Diwali everyday? I am welcomed by this gorgeous smile! Take my word my friends. The most gorgeous smile you can find. Well of course, excluding babies, no one can compete with that. It was like I got high again. Phillipe has one of the most infectious smiles and personalities you can find. I seriously can’t remember what we spoke about in the first minute or so, but I do remember telling him about being the center of attention in Yaam. He can make you extremely comfortable and at ease. At least that’s what I felt. He offered me to come and hang out with him if I was getting bored. I thanked him and went back to my room and started packing my stuff. I had to leave the next morning.
After a while I could hear loud music. I peeped out and realized it was coming from Phillipe’s room. I decided to join him. There I met Rudiger. Rudy and Phillipe make music together. I had a good time sitting and listening to them for a while. Then we all spoke about our travels. Rudy is an Austrian and was telling us about the natural beauty of his country and some memorable travelling experiences. He is in the tech/design field (I am sorry if I am wrong Rudy) Phillipe is a lawyer from Brazil and now is a musician in Berlin! How crazy is that? His stories were a world apart. Insanity is the word to describe them.  He had lived and travelled through India for six months and had done the craziest things imaginable. Trekking through jungles alone for days, coming across leopards and tigers. We had a good laugh. Rudy had to get back home and he promised to visit India soon with his wife. Phillipe suggested we go out and grab some dinner. We picked couple of bottles of beer from the store downstairs and walked towards the subway station. How liberated I felt!! Drinking and walking through streets and in train, coming across street dancers performing and the passer by jumping in. I almost thought about doing it too.
I am glad my key didn’t work. I am glad Phillipe opened the door. I finally did something out of the ordinary (For my Indian standards) in Berlin.

 I am in love. So in love with this city. The Berlin vibe, the energy is something incomparable. The last day was like my love being reciprocated. It’s perfect for me. Fun, beauty with a dollop of madness. Like lovers, I am longing to see it again, to be with it again. No matter how long it takes, I know I am going to be with you one day and it would be like we were never separated.

Cause what we have is LOVE. ( I am sounding like that Macedonian stalker)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s