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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Berlin: Day 2

We got a late start considering our late night the evening before, and by the time we got out of bed, showered and out of the hotel it was close to 11:00am. The plan for the day was to see Berlin historical/tourist sites that we both hadn't seen before. Therefore, the two things on the list were the man-made waterfalls in Kreuzberg in Victoria Park, or the Oberbaumbruecke which is located near the Warschauerstrasse S-Bahn stop heading east from Alexanderplatz.

Because it was such a damp and windy winter day out, and also because our sneakers were still soaked from the adventurous romp through puddle-filled streets the night before, we opted for the bridge instead of the park.

The bridge is a really interesting piece of Berlin architecture that is something which is very unlike the majority of architecture in the rest of Berlin (that I have seen thus far, anyway). I am not very sure about the history, so I am providing this link to the wikipedia article HERE. Our trip to the bridge was uneventful, we took the S-Bahn and then took the U-Bahn to Schlesisches Tor because we had decided to walk over the bridge on our return trip to the S-Bahn stop (we made a small circuit because it was too cold to walk the entire way). It took possibly all of 30 minutes to see the bridge and walk over it, but the thing we stumbled upon after the bridge exploration was really the place we spent most of our afternoon.

The East Side Gallery is home to many famous works of art relating to the Berlin Wall, its fall and its reception around the world. The website can be found HERE with more information historically about its intended purpose, but I would like to post a few pictures to give you, Dear Reader, a sense of what it was like for me and the boyfriend. The immediate observation that struck me were that the size of the wall was immense beyond my imagining. After seeing that much of a complete section of the wall still standing, it gave me a more accurate sense of what divided Berlin must have been like. It struck fear into my heart just looking at the wall now that it is a non-issue; I can't imagine how powerful a symbol it was for those who lived with it day-to-day. It was also really moving to see what sort of pain a division like the wall caused on a global scale (as attested to by the art on the wall in the Gallery which was contributed by international artists). It just all goes to show that what this photo says is true (for good deeds and for bad deeds).

I also had to take this picture, even though this is an ironic juxtaposition of the more sobering images from the wall.

At any rate, after we walked around at the East Side Gallery for a few hours, we had worked up quite an appetite, and we were excited for dinner. We were meeting a fellow Opera singer friend of mine who had been in Berlin for auditions, and like us, longed for sushi (since she too lived in NYC for a while). Another friend of mine who lives in Berlin had recommended this place to me near Jannowitzbruecke called “Don Sushi” with the stipulation that “it wasn't the best d├ęcor, but the food was great”, so I instructed the NYC Opera singer friend to meet us there. We took the S-Bahn to Jannowitzbruecke and began our sushi quest. It was nearly ended prematurely too, when we found a place called “Don Sushi” on the west side of the street that was closed and undergoing renovations, but I had a hunch that my Berlin friend wouldn't have steered us wrong, plus, I know the somehow very asian pattern of owning two restaurants on the same street (or in the same area) with the same name (learned this in NYC with the restaurants Wondee Siam 1 & 2....need I say more?) and so we pressed on down the street in hopes of finding another “Don Sushi”. Lo and behold, it appeared across the street after about another block and a half. Jackpot!! So, we go inside, order a coke and a Mango Lassi (can't believe they had them, but they were delicious!) and look over the menu. Not only did my Berlin friend bring us to a great restaurant but also someplace where we wouldn't break the bank! It was our lucky day. So, we ordered the normal stuff: Eel, Salmon, Tuna, and Spicy Salmon and decide to wait for my NYC friend to show up. After about a half an hour she arrives, but looking frazzled. Turns out she couldn't find a cab and had trekked nearly halfway across the public transit map because of a construction project going on around the area where she had just rented a room (Hohenzollernplatz). Yikes! Well, at least we were able to console her with reasonable prices and great food.

Also luckily, during our dinner at the Sushi place Janet called to reschedule my voice lesson for the next morning to Wednesday morning at 10am, so that was great- it gave me a little more time the morning of the audition to prepare. I was convinced that the audition tomorrow morning would be great.

And, to ensure that it would be, I had made an appointment with the Theaterhaus Mitte to rent a practice room from 9-10pm that evening (for 5 Euros per hour- what a steal!) and we proceeded there after finishing our lovely dinner with my NYC friend. It wasn't quite that easy to find in the pitch dark (it is not as popular to put up a streetlight on every corner in Berlin I've noticed as it is in NYC) and once we did find it, it still took us a 5 minute walk through a complex of buildings to get to the brightly rainbow-colored building all the way behind the others. At any rate, the room was huge, had good acoustics and decent pianos, and it was all mine for the next hour! So, the practicing went well, I went over the few problem spots that I knew in my audition pieces for the next day, and then we called it a night and turned our feet towards the hotel and a comfy bed.

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