Night Location: Berlin, Germany
Song of the Day: Electric Feel - MGMT
Mumisode of the Day: "I could easily go about naked in here!" Mum was wearing her thermal top and leggings in the museums that were heated to a balmy 30 degrees or what felt like it. Mum was flushed and sweating while exploring the museum.
Another gorgeous day here in Berlin. We have been extremely lucky with the weather that is for sure. We had a fairly sombre start to the day as we visited the Topography of Terror museum. This is a free exhibition built over what remains of the old Gestapo Headquarters. There are pictures and displays that explain the rise and fall of the Nazi party and the destruction and havoc that they wreaked in such a short period of time. The pictures were extremely graphic and vivid and everyone felt sickened by what we saw. It is so easy to get caught up in numbers and miss the story of the individual.
From here, once again we all felt as though we needed a coffee and a good sit down. We walked to Potzdamer Platz and the Sony Centre, home to a massive Dunkin Donuts. The donuts here were fantastic; the coffee was not. Gemma and Amber thought that they would try the iced coffee. The man serving asked if they wanted it with milk and sugar in a very strange way and Amber looked at him confused. Our iced coffees arrived looking like coca cola. Very strong, black coffee with ice cubes floating in it. Should have gone for the milk and sugar we think!
Followig this, we split up for a while. Mum and Dad went for a tour of Berlin's version of the Opera House, the Philarmonie, while the children explored Potzdamer Platz. This is the home of the Berlin International Film Festival complete with Hollywood stars represented in the pavement. It is also the home of LegoLand, so we had pictures with the giraffe out the front made of giant lego pieces.
Next we decided we would experience Europe's fastest elevator to a panorama that overlooks Berlin. The lift goes at 8.1m/s. Gemma felt her ears pop and Amber felt nothing at all, although she did think we were only at Level 3 when we were at Level 24. The view from the top is really great. It was such a clear day you could see a lot of the city. It has such an interesting skyline. There are buildings that look hundreds of years old that have been restored since the war and there are ultra-modern angular and glass buildings interspersed. The Tiergarten spreads out heading toward the Victory Column and all the leaves are changing colour once again.
Amber has figured out Berlin's public transport system and so we have been catching a lot of buses. The buses are mostly double deckers so you get a really good view from the top floor at the sights going by. Sounds as though we have had a full day already, but how wrong!
The Neues Museum was one of the highlights of the afternoon. This houses the famous Bust of Nefertiti among other fascinating Egyptian and Roman artefacts. Just as interesting as the contents of the museum is the building itself. This is a building built in the 19th century and then bombed and burnt during the war. A lot of the contents of the museum were sadly burnt as well. The building has undergone a complete transformation in recent years and has actually won a building award in 2011. Where possible the original design of the building has been recreated using original materials, and where the building has been destroyed, a modern section has been inserted that complements perfectly the style from the 19th century. The audio guide explained all that had been done to restore the building as well as showing pictures of what it used to look like. They were very creative in the 19th century and actually designed an Egyptian temple into the centre of the building to house their Egyptian collection. It is incredible to think about all the artefacts that have been taken from their original resting place. Some countries have lost so much. The famous bronze gates from the baptistry in Florence hang here, restored after the fire and destruction of the war.
With only an hour of opening time left we headed across to the Pergamon Museum, another museum on the isle. We didn't know that much about this museum except that it housed some Babylonian gates. We were all just blown away when we walked in the door. There in front of us was the huge Pergamon Altar rebuilt using original stone sitting in an enormous room. You can walk up the stairs and actually get a feel for the enormity of what you are seeing. Into the next room and there was the market gate of Miletus so high that it just dwarfed the people that walked through.
If this wasn't enough, into the next room and there were the glazed blue tiled gates of Babylon. Straight from the days of Nebuchnezzar. The mosaic actually contained many original tiles and although it was only a third of its original size, it was a truly impressive sight. There was also a whole section of Islamic artefacts complete with a wooden ceiling from the Alhambra palace that we are going to visit in Granada.
There was a lot of racing around at the end in order to see as much as possible before closing time and we were among the last to exit the building. It was such a clear, clean night. The moon was rising, and the lights of the Alexanderplatz TV tower loomed over the elegant stone buildings below. We wandered on foot to the Gendarmen-markt, home to many a summer festival. As if we haven't had enough Italian food, there in front of us when we were cold and hungry was another Italian restaurant. We were once again confused as to what language we were meant to use and so a combination of 'Grazie', 'Danke' and 'Thank you' emerged. I am sure that the wait staff were equally confused.
On the way home, Amber got the grey elephant song stuck in our heads. "One grey elephant balancing, step by step on a piece of string..." Amber has also pulled out the 'Scrabble' board so that she can wow us with her 'Scrabble' brilliance. She is untouchable; no one has any idea how she does it! Tomorrow is the leisure day. Unfortunately, there is still so much to see in Berlin. I am not sure how leisured it is going to be!