Bao-Bao eating her bamboo lunch
In Berlin, we were able to attend the concert on the square yesterday (Sunday). It was a wonderful experience in every way: the acoustics were something I have never heard before in an outdoor setting and the Staatskapelle orchestra performed on a special stage that had been set up right next to the Jumbotron, so we were not only watching a live performance but could see the video details up close as well. The skies were overcast but that made it more comfortable for the two or three thousand people who were there (it’s been warm here) and the rain held off until everything was finished. Kathy and I “rented” two folding camping chairs so we could sit in the square and not have to stand throughout the performance. We thought the chairs were a little expensive just for rentals, but, hey, this was Berlin and this was a special concert. So we paid the price. When I returned the chairs to the tent where I had gotten them they looked at me very strangely when I tried to return them and finally someone who spoke English said, “You bought them!” I was rather shocked to realize that I now owned two, rather nice, camping chairs. I would love to have taken them home as souveneirs but I had no intention of bringing them back as luggage to the US. So when we passed a fire department medical team that was sitting at a table at the back of the square I said “Anyone here interested in having two new chairs?” One of the medics stepped forward and said “Yes, I would love them.” So we at least made one German’s day!
We then went back down the street to the Museum Island where several of the best museums in Berlin stand (the buildings are cut off from the streets by a canal that encircles them). We had visited this same place yesterday when we saw the Pergamon Museum. But now we wanted to enter the Neues Museum to see the famous bust of Nefertiti. German archeologists discovered this famous plastered bust of a 14th Century BC Egyptian queen many decades ago. Looking into her face inside the glass case is like looking at a page in Vogue Magazine. She could easily have been a model whose face you would see somewhere on those pages. She looks so modern. The colors are still very vivid after 3,400 years. No wonder she is so closely guarded and in a case that is climate controlled.
Well, that was yesterday. Today (Monday) our target was the Berlin Zoo, considered one of the top Zoos in Europe. Plus they own a Panda. Bao-Bao was in rare form. She was lying in the grass on her back eating bamboo leaves. That was a thrill for Kathy to see her first Panda. But I am more impressed with the big cats. And they had plenty of them—lions, tigers, leopards and a whole host of smaller cats that we have never heard of before. The Berlin Zoo is a very impressive place with many ponds, wooded areas, restaurants and all the amenities that families look for when visiting a place like this.
Another place we paid a visit to was the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, or what is left of it. This prized cathedral of the pre-war Berliners was severally bombed during the last days of WWII so that the only thing they could save of it was the main tower and the vestibule inside of it. They are presently preparing the tower for its debut as a permanent monument sometime this summer. They have encased the entire structure in a scaffolding with a building wrap while the workers strengthen what is left of the building so it will be safe to visit. The vestibule can now be entered and the original beauty of the building can be seen in the wonderful mosaics on the floor and the wall sculptures all over the place. The one thing that really bothered me, however, was how they did the wall sculptures. First of all, this is a church building. But it is a church building dedicated to the Kaiser and therefore has battle scenes and scenes of the glories of the Kaiser’s reign. But then above those large wall sculptures are smaller sculptures of scenes from the Bible (Jesus raising the Widow of Nain’s son from the dead, for instance). You hardly notice the biblical scenes so high up on the walls because of the glories of the Kaiser below them. That is the way we foolish people do things—glory in our own accomplishments and give God the left-overs.
Well, we have two more days left before we fly back to the states. So we’ll see what we can share with you next before we bring this travel blog to an end.