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In Pursuit of Vikings, Fjords and Cooler Weather, thursdaysd Goes North

In Pursuit of Vikings, Fjords and Cooler Weather, thursdaysd Goes North

Old Jul 24th, 2015, 04:22 PM
  #21  
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Sounds like you've now visited a number of Berlin's most powerful reminders of WWII and the Cold War. For your sake, I hope you turn to exploring some of its more delightful corners soon!
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 11:30 PM
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Hi Kathie - when are uou traveling this year?

Adelaidean - divesions are fine. One reason I try to post while I'm traveling is to enjoy the chit-chat - although sometimes it does cause confusion when I get a bit behind (e.g. my south Asian TR!)

kja - unfortunately, I didn't enjoy Berlin as much as I hoped. I did like the Tiergarten, and those parts of Unter der Linden that weren't a construction zone, and the river ditto - I was going to walk the tow path back from Museum Island, but couldn't even get on the tow path on the north bank. I did visit Prenzlauer Berg, which the RS guidebook raved about, but perhaps it's only exciting at night? Charlottenburg (sp?) was pleasant enough, but nothing more. Berlin didn't make my revisit list, but perhaps in a few years when there's less construction going on.
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Old Jul 24th, 2015, 11:44 PM
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My favorites in Berlin were the art museums -- or really, art, architecture, and decorative arts -- but I think that may be an area where our interests diverge. Nefertiti blew me away, the Pergamon was a trip (not city) highlight, etc. But to each his / her own!

I also walked the Tiergarten from end to end -- east to west, in my case, with a bit of meandering from side to side -- and found it a lovely respite from the city. Made me think of NY's Central Park, which also has (or did have) some places that seem far removed from urban life and others that are clearly urban playgrounds....

Looking forward to your next reports, and since Berlin didn't strike your sweet zone, hoping the rest of your trip does!
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 01:53 AM
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Hello from Stonehenge Thursday! Havent read all this yet but signing in to keep track. I am now back in rainy UK after sunny Greece. Hope it rains less on you when you get here.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 02:24 AM
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OK, now read and caught up. A few diversions from me:
I spent a lot of holidays in the 50s/60s in Coventry and was there at the inauguration of the new cathedral in 1962. Maybe saw you annhig? Was impressed at the time but havent been back and wonder how it has weathered? I saw the Frauenkirche when it was still a heap of numbered stones and again since it has been rebuilt. Love Dresden.
Love Berlin too, surprised it hasnt made your revisit list Thursday. I have been there about 5 times from the 70s to 2008. Love the museums, the walks, boat rides, history, ease of getting about. And on and on! Stayed in Charlottenburg, drank in Prenzlauerburg, walked the Wall....! But didnt see the Topography of Terror... Maybe the name put me off.
On board for the next installment.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 06:04 AM
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<<I spent a lot of holidays in the 50s/60s in Coventry and was there at the inauguration of the new cathedral in 1962. Maybe saw you annhig? Was impressed at the time but havent been back and wonder how it has weathered?.>>

I doubt you saw me, Gertie - I was 6 at the time of the inauguration so wasn't invited. However I went there often enough when I was growing up, and have been back a few times since and so far as I can tell, it has worn pretty well, unlike the rest of the city which they seem intent on robbing of any character whatever.

Adelaindean - the people with whom we have stayed twice now live in Naumburg [about 2 hours SW of Berlin] and are a "mixed" couple - one ossie, one wessie. [East Germans and West Germans respectively]. She, the ossie, was brought up in Leipzig and took part in the Monday protests at the Nikolaikirche, telling her mother every week to look after her children if she didn't come back. Quite a sobering thought. They now have a red plastic statue of Karl Marx in their living room which clearly gives them a lot of pleasure.

It is amazing isn't it how they put the Frauenkirche back together - I found that very moving.

we never got as far as the Tiergarten on our trip to Berlin a few years ago [about 10 years ago I think]. We stayed in Mitte near the Spreekanal, and spent quite a lot of time in and around that area as well as the museums etc though we did make it out to Charlottenburg too.

there is so much to see in Berlin and we only had 3 days.

Thursdaysd - they were digging up Unten den Linden 10 years or so ago - do you think that they are doing it again, or that they never stopped?
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 12:53 PM
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Sorry to her that Berlin was a bit of a disappointment. There is a lot of art in Berlin that I'd like to see.

We are traveling in November and have our flights in and out of Bangkok. Haven't decided exactly what else we are going to do - maybe Sukhothai, maybe a 7 night cruise in Burma... I suppose we will have to decide soon!
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 01:13 PM
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annhig - I believe the current mess is for a new subway station, don't know if it was OK before that started.

Kathie - as you know, I'm not a fan of Bangkok, but it is a great base for getting to lots of other places, lol. Next post will be on museums in Berlin.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 02:21 PM
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thursdaysd - when we were there almost the entire length of Unten den Linden was under construction on one way or another.

perhaps they had finished - only to start again.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 06:23 AM
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Enjoying your report, thursdaysd -- thank you!
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 07:11 AM
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<b>July 19-21, 2015: Museum Days: Berlin</b>

With my three day museum pass I visited six museums - or eight if you count the sections of the Dahlem Museum separately. Unfortunately, aside from Nefertiti (Neues Museum) and the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon (the Pergamon Altar being unavailable during renovations) I was only really impressed by one of them, the one I started at. As I have posted before, I am much more interested in arts and crafts than in paintings and sculpture, so it should be no surprise that my favorite was the Decorative Arts Museum, otherwise the Kunstgewerbemuseum.

It's a good bit smaller than the Victoria and Albert, my rainy day retreat in London, and only covers Europe, but it definitely went in for quality rather than quantity. Almost everything I saw, even the styles I don't particularly like, was exquisite. I couldn't help reflecting, though, that an awful lot of time and effort, and expensive materials, and highly-trained craftsmanship, has gone into depictions of war, not to mention rape and martyrdoms (I include crucifixion under martyrdom). Does your beer actually taste better if one man is killing another in an ivory panel on the stein? How about dinner with the table's centerpiece covered in scenes of mayhem? And when I think about paintings from the Renaissance onward, some of those mythological scenes look a lot like soft porn. Still, at least they make a change from Madonnas and martyrs.

While Germany was well represented in the main sections in the Kunstgewerbemuseum I noticed that in the costume section most of the early examples were from England, and the later ones from Paris. There were also some good Art Nouveau pieces from the Paris Expo of 1900.

Since it was raining hard outside, I was happy to be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria in the neighboring Gemaldegalerie, reached by an underground passage. This museum holds European paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries, meaning it included a good selection of the Dutch and Flemish artists that are my favorites, including two Vermeers and several Rembrandts including a self-portrait, although there did seem to be a superabundance of Cranachs. I also noted a Botticelli Venus, without shell, and a truly repulsive Madonna and child by Raphael - but I have never cared for Raphael.

Most of Berlin's museums close on Monday, but the Neues and Pergamon on Museum Island are open then, and I had reserved an afternoon time for the Pergamon for Monday - although the queue wasn't very long when I got there. The Pergamon is yet another of Berlin's construction sites, and the place will no doubt look much better in a few year's time. The Ishtar Gate doesn't look bad now, although I was a bit disappointed in the rest of the Mesopotamian section, the best bits turned out to be copies of two pieces I love in the British Museum. But I did think the Islamic section was worth seeing.

Nefertiti, of course was also worth seeing, just breathtakingly beautiful. I noticed a very slight creasing under one eye, and on her eyelids, just enough to suggest that this was a real woman. In the same museum I also spent some time admiring the very tall, very thin, Golden Hat, which besides being a magnificent piece of presumably ritual wear from the Late Bronze Age, was a calendar. Otherwise, I rated the museum skippable. No doubt it would be more impressive if it still had the gold artifacts from Troy, but it told me more than once that the Russians had taken those that remained in 1945, and not returned them.

My third museum day involved a couple of longish journeys, somewhat complicated by a technical snafu. I was traveling with a new smart phone, a Samsung S5, and was thoroughly impressed by the improvement over my (very) old LG. I would have bought an S6 Edge, much cooler, but you can't replace the batteries in the S6 series. Last trip I had to replace not only the battery, but the battery charger, and I wanted similar flexibility. I had kept my T-Mobile month-to-month contract, which supposedly gave me unlimited low speed data in Europe, and on which I had been relying for transport information. All of a sudden it quit working! No data service at all. I had to go back to the paper map I got from the T.I.

A bus and the U-Bahn and a stroll up the avenue got me to Schloss Charlottenburg, which I did not visit, and the Brohan Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, which was my objective. Now, I enjoyed the museum, but it isn't very big, and I wouldn't recommend the trek out unless you are also visiting the Schloss or are a fan of one or both of the styles. I was particularly interested to see the difference between French and German Art Nouveau. In fact, if the German pieces hadn't been sitting in the museum, labeled as Art Nouveau, I wouldn't have recognized them. The German designers had managed to go from the light and curvaceous French style to dark wood and straight lines!

In contrast, the Dahlem Museum, which was also a bit of a hassle to reach (especially on a hot day with no AC on the U-Bahn!) was quite big, and very easy to get lost in. Aside from finally getting a "proper" espresso macchiato, the most interesting thing for me was the reconstructed cave from western China. The museum had several small frescoes, taken from their native caves, but while I would normally deprecate the removal, some of them were from the Bezeklik caves, which I had seen in Xinjiang province. Those frescoes which weren't already damaged by Islamic iconoclasts, or removed by western archaeologists, were further damaged during the Cultural Revolution. I was going to say that maybe it was better that they were in Berlin, but a check of wikipedia says that most of the pieces were destroyed by WWII bombs.

After the Chinese section I took a look at the European, where I was depressed by a temporary exhibition of photos of apartments in Tbilisi. I had rather liked Tbilisi, but I would not have liked living in those apartments! By now I was museumed-out. I retreated to my hotel via the Hauptbahnhof, where I bought a ticket for Schwerin, my next stop (regional train, no reduction for buying early). I stopped in the Motel One's lounge and indulged in a Prosecco aperol. This is a drink I love, and can't seem to get at home, but this one was overly large. Good thing I was only going next door for Thai food, and had plenty of time to pack in the morning.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:12 AM
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it Sounds like the museums are a bit of a disappointment. I'm sorry to hear that.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:46 AM
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Well, I was a bit disappointed, but I think kja was saying up thread that she liked the museums, so YMMV. My interests aren't everybody's, so some things to bear in mind:

- I prefer arts and crafts to fine arts
- I have given up on most art after the Surrealists
- I didn't visit all the art galleries
- My standard of comparison consists of London, Paris, DC and New York

So, Berlin may have a fabulous contemporary art museum, and I just didn't visit it.

I would add, though, that if you are looking for Asian art, this isn't the place, although as I said, I did think that the Islamic art was worth seeing.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 11:12 AM
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Still reading your interesting report!
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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Thanks irishface - and GinnyJo. It's so nice to know people are reading - and enjoying!
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 11:46 AM
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I am still here Thursday! Enjoyed your account of the Berlin museums, would say I largely agree with you though I do like fine art. Enjoyed the Brohan very much and as predicted did it along with Schloss Charlottenburg. We were staying in an apt near there anyway. Did you get to the Jewish Museum? That made a great impression on me.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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I'm following as well, thursdaysd...my favorite artworks are the Flemish and Dutch as well. I've not been to Berlin - am looking forward to Scandinavia.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 12:03 PM
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Hi gertie, are you still in London? Have BBC World on as background. Didn't make it to the Jewish Museum. Have seen a couple, and they tend to remind me of the Holocaust. Figured the Topography of Terror was enough of that.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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Yes. I am in London until 4th. Guess you will arrive later than that...?
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 12:07 PM
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Hi Mara. Will move from Bremen to Lubeck tomorrow, then it will be Copenhagen! Expect the high point to be the Hurtigruten cruise mid-August. Will certainly get me imto high latitudes.
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