Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 8: Priceless Work of Art

How has it been 8 days already? Yikes. The time has FLOWN by. I haven't even gotten to watch American Idol.
I went to the Janssen Gallery today. They have a shop in Berlin and are one of the world leaders in books for the gay community collecting art. The shop surprisingly had almost none of their books. But they did have some oil paintings. It turns out they were originals painted in the early 90's by a German man who died and his nephew found them and was going to throw them out and then found a note to give them to the gallery. So I knew a few of the men in the paintings and one of them I remember from when I was a teenager, Dirk Shafer, and I hummed and hawed. Is this one of those times you buy the picture or is this a time you don't and then regret it for the rest of our life and occasionally think of that picture you loved from Berlin? And how to get it back to Toronto?
Well I bought the picture. It was 250 Euros, about $400. Yikes. I spent about $800 in my first week and about $1,500 in 3 days in Berlin. So now the shopping is over. My bags are full and now I have 4 posters and an oil painting to carry on the plane (let's hope they let me carry it on the plane...). I really hope they don't open my bags.
So I've got some time while my pictures load, Berlin is great, I really love it. I took German for a year and I can understand enough to get by but I only speak about 5 words. Most of the time that is enough. Someone asks me if I want whipped cream on my coffee, I can say "Nein, danke" and we more on. Or if I have to pass someone I can say "Wie bitte", and Germans say "hi" when greeting so it all works to a point. That is when they say something back.
I woke up early this morning and went to the Schwules (gay) Museum first thing and it turns out they're open 2-6 p.m. Why doesn't someone put this on their website? Dunno.
So then I went to the Tobias exhibit I mentioned yesterday.

He had some amazing photos and I'm glad I went. I bought the catalogue book of the exhibition as I used to try to get it online afterwards and you usually end up with a cheaper price, but not the exact edition you wanted. That was about $60.
I had to buy a pass to take pictures and then I couldn't use the flash and no one here spoke English.
Then there was some weird stuff:

That I mostly skipped past as it was BIZARRE German stuff. All these figures had a button and when you held it down they talked. This secretary lady spoke English and I still had no idea what she was saying. The second floor appeared to have been pulled out of the rubbish tip.
Afterwards I went to an open air cafe and ordered an iced coffee and she brought out this:

And I got scared, as this:

in Prague (hot chocolate from a package) was $6. I thought about calling home and asking my mother to mortgage the house but it was only about $5.
A side note, I have purchased all the lemon iced tea from the store across the street and when I ask if they have any in the back, the girl gives me a helpful shrug and says "Sprechen Deutche". Even when I point to the bottle or diet peach and say "ZITRON" slowly she still has no idea what I mean. What's up with these people?
So then over to Checkpoint Charlie.

I had to stop along the way as I had forgotten, once again, to pack nail clippers and had to buy some and my deodorant I brought was from Walmart and lasts about 10 minutes. Deodorant is weird in this country, it comes in tiny glass bottles and is only available in liquid.
I'm an VERY glad my mom bought me my suitcase as it has lasted well. There's no locker here and the suitcase comes with locks for the zippers which have proved a lifesaver so THANKS MOM!
My picture for the day is me with the German soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie:

Then I went to the Schwules Museum finally and it was a tad bit of a huge letdown. First of all no one spoke English, like at all. Second of all everything was only in German. Every other museum I've been to in Berlin everything is translated in 4 languages, here nothing. Nient. Finally they don't allow pictures. The guy said I could stand at the entrance and aim the camera inward:

They had one book in English which I bought and like nothing else. A T-Shirt? A book of pictures for people in all languages? Actually they did have one book of pictures and when I tried to buy it the guy said, using no English, that the book I chose is not for sale, but every other book on the shelf was. Helpful.
There's a big tower here:

So I went to the top:

I don't know what the tower is called. A note about Berlin, for some reason it stays light until about 10:15 p.m. here and in winter it gets dark at 3 p.m. If they aren't north of Toronto how is that possible? Dunno.
Anyway, from the top of the tower I saw another bombed out church:

And a statue nearby of a mother holding her dead son:

Every where I've been, everyone is the victim. Poland welcomed the Nazis but according to them they were under German oppression and then Russian oppression. In Prague the number one selling book was a photo book about a revolt against Communism in 1968 in the town square where a student set himself on fire and burned to death to protest the occupation. And here, the town was torn apart, they were bombed and they were made to follow Hitler. Is there a collective guilt over the holocaust? Dunno, try and find it mentioned.
Finally the world clock:

At Alexanderplatz. It's famous for some reason. I just keep stumbling upon these things.
Tomorrow is the Daily Life in Communism museum and the Egypt museum. And I have to change rooms. No teenage girls, please!
Oh yes, and I must also mention everyone here is drunk. Beer in every restaurant, even fast food. Drinking beer on the subway, in the street, everywhere.

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