Thursday, November 29

Discover: Denmark Day 3, Berlin Day 4

Crazy town around here- quick overnight to NYC yesterday AND one of my roommates is moving out as of 2 seconds ago, literally, so we are doing rapid-fire interviews. So, posting in double time tonight.


After another yummy breakfast at the hotel, we headed up to the Danish Design Museum. We skimmed through the porcelain and ancient artistry (there's no time for fake interest when you have so little time abroad) in favor of an exhibit on album and record art and the international music trends of the last 100 years. My favorite part was the Danish furniture, duh. I've been a huge fan of Danish design for ages, and enjoyed learning more about the iconic Eames, Klint, Jacobsen, Wegner and more. D is very into functionalistic furniture, which is at the heart of Danish design; it's all about  "creating clean, pure lines based on an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the requirements of the human body". I, on the other hand, am ok with a little non-functional, inefficient beauty now and then.

Towards the end of the museum was a living exhibit of Finn Juul's designs. It was so cool. It's one thing to see gorgeous designs on a pedestal, and quite another to sit in them, especially as Danish design doesn't look like it will be as comfortable as it always is. Note the big smile (and the statement chair).

After the museum, we went to the Vestebro neighborhood for some thrifting and a good meal. We swung by Granola for a perfectly made coffee and snack, and took pictures of the beautiful flower shops.  We tried to get traditional Danish "fish balls" at Fiskebaren, which doesn't open until 5:30pm, and settled on more pizza at Mother's, which I found using this New York Times article on eating frugally in Copenhagen. We tried MadGlad (also from the article!), a family-owned small shop that cooks just one meal per day (but does so very well). Then it was back to the airport to head to our second city.

We looked into booking overnight trains, but there just weren't great options and the process was cumbersome. Instead, we flew via Easy Jet, which was, well, easy. It was just $40 for a one-way trip, which took less than an hour. We dropped our stuff at our Berlin hotel, The Gates Novum in the ritzy western neighborhood Charlottenburg, and headed out to a bar. Yes it's a Tuesday, yes it's 12:30am, yes all the bars (and restaurants) are still open. This city put NYC-energy to shame. We quizzed each other on German phrases (hello, please, thank you, do you have beer) over a drink, planned out our day trip to Potsdam, and got some much needed sleep.


We had a glorious sun on our fourth day, and we took advantage by heading half an hour outside Berlin to visit Potsdam. We didn't want to do anything in Berlin that we'd have to repeat with Molly, so Potsdam was a good option in that it was absolutely worth the visit but not vital to the Berlin experience. We went to the "New Palace" first, which was a unique salmon-brick, and walked through Potsdam park to reach the main buildings. Potsdam was placed on the map by Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, who built his summer palace here. 

And what a palace. It's called Sans Souci, meaning "without worries". I mean, they have swans, what is there to worry about? You could see how the vines on each level would make this sing in the summers. Even now it was stunning.

We played in the leaves in the park on our way to the museum of Potsdam, which gave us some great Prussian history. In retrospect, I think we both enjoyed moving through history chronologically in Berlin- our first history lesson while in Germany was on the Prussian dynasty; next, we spent two days on WWI and WWII; finally, we reached the post-war reconstruction, the drama of a divided city, and toured their parliment at 10pm on our last night. Interesting that it worked out that way.

We had our first German sausage in the Dutch Quarter, washed down by "gluhwein", a mulled wine with brandy or rum. Both were everything I had hoped for (though they need to get some proper buns, no?)

I don't have pictures of the rest of our evening, but we met a German born-and-bred friend of D's for dinner and drinks. What we assumed would be a quick bite turned into hours of good food, good drinks, multiple venues, and flowing, insightful conversation on the German culture, their national identity, their perceptions of Americans, and the counter-intuitive nostalgia for an isolated east Berlin, called Ostalgie (fascinating concept, worth getting the idea here). M was such a resource of cultural and social information, and had answers to even my most random questions (apparently there was the opposite of a baby boom after the wall fell, to my surprise, as "freedom" from the Soviet Union also meant uncertainty, unemployment, poverty, and lack of childcare). It was an absolutely charming evening, and solidified my opinion that personal relationships are the most valuable asset; a conversation in a cozy bar with a thoughtful yet discerning man from a different perspective sounds just about perfect.

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