Saturday, January 15, 2011

Out and About: Wednesday in Berlin


Okay, okay, before the high level cultural stuff, a little more about one culinary experience that was a surprising highlight of the day. At the conclusion of our city tour, we were deposited on one of Berlin's main shopping streets, where we did a little "pre-shopping" and soaking up the local color. Just a block from our hotel is the department store Ka-De-We (an abbreviation for German words meaning "Store of the West"). This eight-story complex reminded us of Harrod's...huge floors of goods for men, women, kids, household items, gifts, and more. Up on one of the top floors is where they keep all the gourmet items. So, up we went!

When we got there, we were greeted with sensory overload. The entire floor was a network of areas, islands, aisles and displays all arranged by food "themes." There were distinct whole areas for cheeses (more than 1,200 varieties in all, the store boasts), chocolates, tea, coffee, wine, bread, caviar, cured meats, seafood, sushi, Chinese cuisine, beer and more. Each area had rows of items for purchase, plus a counter/cooler area attended by store staff, who would cut to order whatever one might request. Food for eating on the spot was also available at these food counters, and drawn by the savory smell of melty cheese, we pulled up to the counter for a bite to eat. We shared a large casserole dish of diced potatoes, bacon and onion in a rich cream sauce, topped with cheese that had been sent to the broiler before being served to us so it had a yummy cheese crust on top. Washed down with glass of ice cold pilsner...we had to pry ourselves away, knowing our real dinner was not too far off.


Today would be our first day to work on our “list” of many things we wanted to see in Berlin. At my request, we started off to see Checkpoint Charlie, the infamous border crossing between East and West Berlin. To get there, we took the U-bahn, Berlin’s subway, for the first time. Easy to navigate, we made our way across town in short order.

As we approached the checkpoint, we had a chance to view numerous signs along the sidewalk, complete with actual historical pictures. These panels told the story of the wall, from its installation in

1961 to its removal in 1989. There was one of NYC graffiti artist Keith Haring, and another of Mstislav Rostropovich playing Bach(!) on the cello just days after the wall had come down.

Following a double row of bricks embedded in the pavement to trace the wall’s former course,

we made our way to the “Topographie des Terrors,” a museum at the site of the former Nazi police headquarters. There, a section of the wall has been left standing.

Displayed inside the museum are photographs and historical documents preserving the history of the SA and SS, and the inhuman treatment of so many. The excellent presentation, though profoundly sobering in its content, was well organized and rich.

A short walk to Potsdammer Platz brought us to a large, upscale shopping center. Viewing the soaring glass atriums, escalators and department stores, it was difficult to imagine the transformation that has occurred in the last (barely) 20 years.

After a tasty stop at a cafĂ© for a mid-afternoon meal, we found a great ice cream stand, selling various Italian style gelato flavors. I had a mix of chocolate with tiramisu (complete with actual lady fingers mixed in with the ice cream) and Jon bravely sampled the chili-pepper flavored chocolate…as spicy as any Thai dish we’ve had in a while!

No comments:

Post a Comment