Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-08-04

Stayed the night in Berlin

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From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@brong.net>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 08:14:20 +1000 (EST)
What luck! We had decided to do all the museums on Sunday, and what do
we discover but that all the big museums in Berlin are free for only one
day each month - that being the first Sunday in the month. Yay!

We started with the Pergamon - a bit like the British museum with lots
of big bits of stone taken from various ancient places and set up as
closely to the original as possible. Still, there were some very
impressive exhibits, and the view walking in the main door and being
in front of giant stone steps with pillars at the top is good. Would
help if half the buildings in the area weren't designed in the same
style of course...

I decided to learn German the hard way - get a book and puzzle my way
through with the dictionary to help, so I chose an Agatha Christie book
from a market we passed. Hey, it was cheap. Also got a book called "The
Xenophobe's guide to the Germans" which is actually quite good, and very
ammusing! The Lonely Planet recommends the Austria one too - just a
small taste of local habits and attitudes to help you get along, and
lots of jokes to help you relax a bit.

We ate a "Cafe Beth", a Kosher Jewish place. It was recommended as both
very good and quite cheap - as well as vegetarian. The book failed to
mention the two policemen with machine guns standing out the front. They
insited on searching my bag. Apart from that though, the service was
excelent, and the atmosphere so relaxed. We were both very impressed.

Checked out the "Old Museum" - actually in better condition than the new
museum, which is of course closed undergoing repairs.

We wanted to see an organ recital in the main cathedral, but that was
only on Wednesdays, oh well.

Finished the day at the Parliament House (now back in service after its
burning - and 50 years of being in Bonn). The security there is very
tight - they took Kate's whistle keyring off her, though they missed the
knife I was carrying in my bag. Very strange. The view from the top was
fantastic, especially being able to see down into the parliament
chambers (make sure that democracy really is working or something - and
make sure they remember that the people are up above them, watching).
Nobody was inside though, and the lights were out, so we couldn't see
anything through the glass. Our tour guide compared the burning of the
Reichstag and Hitler's blaming it on terrorists (Communists in this
case) and grabbing power with Star Wars - Episode 2. He carefully said
he wasn't referring to current politics (well, we had a lot of Americans
in the group...)

Got back to discover that everyone else in our dorm room had left, and
we had the place to ourselves! Nice not to have to creap around quietly
for once, there's always someone who wants to go to bed at 7pm, and
someone else who wants to sleep until midday.

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