Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taking it Easy

By Thursday we had managed to get to most of Curtis' A-list sights, so we were going to take a slow day and come home early to pack -- the Isaaks for Vienna and the McFarlands for Dresden. We began with a trip to the Berlin Cathedral.

Here's a model of it inside the museum (what? you don't have a museum in your church?).
Here is Maddie, showing where she and I were locked in back in 1998. We'd come in here because it was quiet and I was trying to feed her. Then someone came by and locked the door! It was very exciting because only Betsy was outside and she had limited German at that point. She finally found someone and pointed and said "Mein Schwester ist in da!" and they let us out. They were getting ready for a wedding.
We saw this sculpture storage space on the stairs to the top. Always good to have backup sculptures.
A bit of the view from above. Actually the Altes Galerie where Rob had just taken Maddie and the students.
Recognize this picture? Scroll up to the top. Now look back at me. Now to the top. Now back at me . . . my picture is not as cool as the one at the top, but it's the same view. It took us about 15 minutes to get this picture because there were people camped out next to the telescope and they were not moving! In fact it looked like they were postulating a new theory of physics or cultural philosophy. After trying everything else in the book, Rob brought Joss over to make him cry. Maddie said "Give him here. That'll do it." and as soon as Rob handed him off he began to squeal and wail right in their ear. They looked behind them in surprise and fright and saw Rob making a silent war whoop of joy. "Oh! Look at that lovely . . . ah . . . cloud above us!" he said. They scuttled off to philosophize elsewhere lest they be subjected to such a sound all the way down the stairs.

Some of my favorite ugly Americans!

The dome of the Dom

The organ and the altar

Frederick's coffin

The kids ran around on the site of the former Palace of the Republic, an asbestos-filled architectural eyesore of the communist regime and they worked off some religious fervor.
Then we ate at the 12 Apostles pizza place under the S-bahn tracks for lunch. It would freak me out to work there, but they fit us all and every time a train went overhead Joss would find it's reflection in the windows and tell us what kind it was.

We had the Jakobus and the Bartolomeo pizzas and lots of apfelschorle and soda to drink.
Rob showed us the difference between machine gun and grenade marks on a building. They are disappearing quickly with all of the remodeling, but you can still find some.

We went on a hunt for ice cream. It was arduous, but well worth it in the end.
Rob, Maddie and I risked our lives across 12 or so lanes of traffic to come see this building. It was worth it. It is a city courthouse in the east.

Amazing art noveau interior

We think it would have made the perfect Ministry of Magic with the windows blacked out. Now can you believe that survived the Battle of Berlin? I can't.

At this point Joss began a meltdown from which he would never recover. Rob and Maddie offered to get him home quickly while Curtis, the boys and I rode a boat home. So we split up and went on our way. We sat on the boat, heard Joss screaming for at least a block as he rolled home, listened to our audio guides and got off at the building called The Pregnant Oyster or Jimmy Carter's Smile. I'd show you a picture, but it's not worth it. This is the point where we were taking it easy, stopping early and going home. Except that when we got home, we were all locked out. All of us.

You see, our door can only open from the outside with a key. And it can only open from the inside with a key. It only opens at all with a key. But the door does not open from the outside if the key is in the lock on the inside. Got all that? We had four copies of that key and Rob had one, Curtis had one, I had one, and the fourth was -- wait for it -- inside the lock on the other side.

Even the housekeeper had come by, tried the door, thought that we weren't letting her in, and left us a note. But we were all stuck outside, it was 6:00pm and Rob had to put on a Young Single Adult activity in an hour in the center of town.

Did I mention that Tomas and Curtis were leaving at 8:00am and had to pack?

Serious panic time.

So here's how it went down. Rob inquired after a locksmith at the hair salon next door to us. They told him about one but said "he's closing in three minutes so you'll have to run." So he did. He found the locksmith, explained the situation and they said they'd send someone in half an hour or so and it would cost mucho mucho dinero to fix. Then Rob ran off with Maddie and Will to the activity. Curtis took Tomas, Sebi and Joss to the park where they played happily except for a messy diaper. I waited out in front of our building looking for anyone who looked like a locksmith. It felt like forever.

A polish guy came with a little suitcase. I showed him the door and he took one swipe at it with his giant Credit Card of Key Magic and it popped open. My mouth must have popped open too, because he looked back and said "Well I'm a locksmith." For this service I got to pay him mucho mucho dinero and I was glad to, because by then I was really needing to use the little tourist's room. I got Curtis and the boys back in and in the meantime . . .
Rob met with the young adults at the church. He divvied them up into teams and handed off lists of things for them to find across Berlin.
They had to take each mode of transportation at least once, find a street sign with a preposition in it (such as "Unter den Linden"), and the river Spree and race back to the church.
Our kids were assigned to teams too, and Will's team came back in first. They made it back a full half hour before the next team! Will was over the moon. Rob passed out prizes and Curtis packed and we lived happily ever after.
. . . until the next crisis . . .


Sister Pottymouth said...

How on earth do you stay so calm? I feel stressed out when I travel, and if anything goes wrong, I'm a wreck. What an amazing experience for you and your kids!

Nedra said...

Is the picture at the top of your blog an "actual photograph"? I've always thought it was a stylized painting.

Maddie lou said...

Gorgeous picture, Julie! The answer is that we do melt down during travel, but we try to take turns. With Rob around we are often, but not always, able to pull something out of a hat. Stay tuned for the next installments where we make a locked door look simple!
Yes it is a real photo, but I'm pretty certain it's been retouched. Rob found it on one of the sites he frequents and I was just surprised because I didn't know we could climb up to the top of the cathedral!