“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.” -Hiroshi Motomura
Today I was considering joining the group heading to Potsdam, but decided to sleep in, be leisurely and make my own way. I jump on the U-Bahn in the direction of Museum Island. Here are five or six museums surrounded by small rivers. I explore almost all of them seeing some amazing sculptures and art. The Pergamon Museum, in particular, blew my mind. It has a full Greek altar inside, as well as entire Roman columns, archways, and details mosaic floors! I’m stunned as I had no idea this was here! I pop into a couple other museums, ending with the Neues Museum that holds the famous bust of Nefertiti! There is much debate over where this priceless artifact should be displayed and it make its way back to Egypt eventually, as Egypt continues to demand its repatriation. Germany claims rights to the beauty, because it was a German archaeologist that uncovered it in 1912. I’m pretty stoked to view the nearly flawless ancient sculpture. Walking through wings of ancient jewelry, pottery, and other artifacts, I make my way back outside.
After grabbing a quick-lunch of Berlin’s staple currywurst, (which I really like and enjoy more than once as a quick lunch on the go!) I take a quick glance at Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point in the Berlin Wall that separated East Berlin from the Allie occupied West. I then head over to the very metropolitan Potsdamer Platz. This bustling square features multiple very tall, very modern buildings. I relax for a moment on a ledge, watching an indie drummer find a spot and settle down to play a bit. While listening to his music, I observe the scene; passersby strolling along, visitors taking pictures, professionals rushing, a couple of film makers record the buildings and the staple school groups troll through. Everyone is just going on about their day in this large urban square, beneath the large urban billboards and I’m suddenly aware that not a single person I know… has any idea where I am. I’m enjoying these solo moments of traveling alone. I spend much of time with roommates and other travelers I’ve met and always have a great time, but opting to spend today day exploring Berlin alone, I’m finding it nice. I don’t think I am every alone at home… ever. Work, home, or elsewhere.
After my short stop to relax my weary feet, I decide to walk further along to Tiergarten. It turns out to be a LONG walk. Entering the woods from the side, I feel like I’m no longer in a city at all, bare trees stretching out in every direction, separated by a couple of dirt trails. I bet the garden is beautiful in spring when the trees are full and the grass is green. In this cold season, I still find it lovely; peaceful. I keep walking and eventually dump out into a clearing, there are benches and statues spotted around… and a bit further, I’m back on the main road I saw the day before, that extends from the Brandenburg Gate to the large Victory Column, Siegessäule. Another long stretch down the tree-lined street takes me past the golden Victoria… then eventually down past Bellevue Palace (an Old Prussian Palace that now serves as the official residence of the German President).
Walking along the river for a while, taking my time as I have nowhere to be. I’m happy at this moment, maybe it’s the water, I have an ingrained sense of peace connected to water. As the afternoon wears down, I wrap up my solo walking tour of Berlin and head back to my room. It’s St. Patrick’s day… and I still have the notorious Berlin nightlife to experience.