Reichstag (where the German legislative body meets). Once I understood the history, I didn't think that Christos was so crazy for wrapping it. It was a good PR stunt for a building that needed attention. Now it's nice and new and has a wonderful dome on top that you can run up and down on. See?
This is where we ran up and down. One of Will's favorite sites.
On Saturday we decided to go out and see something. And to kill two birds with one stone, we did a dry run of the tour Rob was taking students on through sites in the downtown.
We started at the part we knew well: the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, where we had gone with the Isaaks to run up and down the ramps on top. This is still one of my favorite things to do in Berlin, if only to watch the pleasant efficiency of the security workers there.
Then we hopped a bus and went to see Hitler's bunker (or the dirt under which it is buried) and the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Finally, we headed down to Kreuzberg to see Schinkel's monument called the National Denkmal. It looks like a church steeple without a church, and on top of it is an Iron Cross, which is where the military medal came from. It is on top of a hill in a very pretty park with a waterfall and petting zoo. Rob used to do missionary work there. He says that once they were teaching a discussion to a younger guy and in about principle four, two beings of wondrous whiteness appeared on the hill above them and proceeded to strip down to nothing and sunbathe, thereby effectively ending said discussion.
In Kreuzberg, our stroller died. One half of it started to fold while we were pushing it. We made it home by babying it, but that was the end of our family transportation in Berlin.
We didn't worry about it too much on Sunday, but on Monday we tried to take it to IKEA with us, and it just wasn't going to happen. So we left it by a dumpster and took the train to IKEA and hiked with Sebi on our shoulders. We had a great time buying things for the apartment like dishtowels and plastic cups and ice cube trays, and we were amazed that IKEA actually has free refills on their drinks. And they have one special drink dispenser that keeps things warmer than the others for Germans who don't like cold drinks (this is a cultural thing that has been changing over the years as Rob has visited -- now you can actually buy some drinks cold). So we had a nice lunch there and then had to carry Sebastian and all of the purchases home on the shuttle and two trains.
By Tuesday, it was evident that the stroller was a crisis and Rob gallantly took off across Berlin to the Wal-mart (yup. you heard right. We stopped some people and asked them where they bought their stroller because we weren't prepared to pay 400 Euros for a stroller for three months. They said "Vahlmarkt" and Rob said "What?" and Mary Ann said "Wal-mart!" and they said "Ja."). He said it was crazy and ghetto and they had everything we needed. So now we have a new Turkish-style stroller and Sebastian can't touch the ground in it. Hurrah!
Rob and I also went to see the Three Penny Opera performed at the Admiral Palace. It was a good production to see because they played it pretty strait (it wasn't set underwater or as modern gangsters or something). I had read a synopsis in English on Gradesaver.com by a Harvard student who couldn't spell, so I knew what was going on even though I only understood words here and there. Bertold Brecht wrote it to be a story that people wouldn't like about characters they wouldn't identify with, and the music by Kurt Weill was supposed to distance them as well -- so of course it became a huge hit and people would throw beggar parties and everyone would come in costume. Rob maintains that like Upton Sinclair, Brecht was trying to hit people in the heart, and instead he hit them in the dancing shoe. It was the first time Rob has seen this performed, though he's directed it twice now at BYU.