Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Do You Do In Berlin?

We had gotten Tomas and Curtis in town safely, got them home and unpacked. Now what? Where do you go first when you want to see Berlin? We brought them here to the Brandenburg Gate. It is one of the most-often seen views of the city, symbolic of the monarchy, the wall, the visits by JFK and Ronald Reagan and the fall of the wall.
Giant bubbles are always a good thing to have at important tourist sites. They help your kids stay put. It's also important to have a Mickey Mouse walking around, a scary tiger, a large bear posing for photos (the bear is on Berlin's flag), and a man dressed up as the Captain from Koepenick. Whatever it takes, right?
We all poked our head in to see Frank Gehry's design for the Deutsche Bank building on Pariser Platz. It was really amazing. He was really restricted on the front facade because it had to mimic the historic look of the plaza. So he went wild on the inside and on the top. So cool!
Sebi and Tomas at the Berlin Wall. We then tried to visit the Reichstag (like the Capitol building in Washington DC) but we found to our dismay that security has been tightened and you need to make an internet reservation at least three days in advance. We were so sad! That was one of our very favorite places in 2006.
Instead we jammed over to Checkpoint Charlie and the museum there. This was the American crossing between East and West Berlin. All during that time there was a group in a house nearby that was tracking what was going on and documenting the escapes that people made from the East to the West.
It has grown over the years and it's a really important thing to see in Berlin, but it is not a well-presented museum. It's a rabbit warren of hot little rooms with jumbled exhibits and it requires a lot of reading. Curtis patiently read to the two second graders. I pointed out things for Maddie to read. Rob walked around with Joss who was K.O. in his stroller and Will mostly found the hidden compartments that people had used. I was really glad that we'd watched Night Crossing with the kids before coming because that gave them some context and the base of the balloon was there at the museum. It is an attraction that's ready for an overhaul. Maybe even a takeover!
From there, we had a mad dash across town to get to our dinner. Rob and Will went to pick up Kurt, leaving Curtis and I and four kids lost in the U-bahn construction. We found our way by luck and sight more than anything else and only showed up twenty minutes late for our Doener Kebaps. This is the Berlin version of a hamburger: shaved herbed lamb with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and special sauce all on perfectly-toasted flatbread.
Rob has been coming to this place since he was a missionary in the mid-eighties. They have finally expanded and have more seating, a sign above the door, and matching polo shirts on all the employees. Now at least our favorite place has a name! James, Susanne and Luise drove all the way up to eat with us too, and we sat out in the platz chatting on benches and trying to avoid the wasps who love Doeners too. Susanne even brought chocolate chip cookies, which is a never-to-be-repeated perfect combination of Turkish-German/American cuisine!

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