Disclaimer - I am on a German computer, and I don't know where any of the keys are. Every word has a red squiggly line under it as I type, too.
...and all of my y-s are trying to be z-s.
I come to you now on my final full day in Berlin with the incredible Julia. It's hard to believe that we've put up with each other for 8 years, when she was an exchange student at FHS. Look back to http://ashleydonaldson.blogspot.de/2009/08/prost.html and http://ashleydonaldson.blogspot.de/2009/08/and-now-end-is-near.html for youthful accounts of my visit to her in Munich in 2009.
The train ride to Berlin was about 8 hours long. Somehow the German train system was not punctual, so I arrived 30 minutes later than anticipated. Julia picked me up, drove back to her apartment, then exchanged my suitcase for her puppy, and drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Lucy, the puppy, had her picture taken in front of Bellevue, where the President lives, the Siegessäule, and the Brandenburg Gate. We enjoyed a coffee at Pariser Platz (next to the Gate, and where Julia works).
Monday, I arrived at the Pergamon Museum a few minutes before they opened. I stayed for a little over an hour, then wandered on my merry way. I took many photos, but forgot my sketchbook. For that reason, I didn't bother paying to go into the Cathedral, as I would have wanted to sit and draw.
Instead, I aimlessly walked, eventually ending up at Alexanderplatz, where I bought a new memory card. Yay for being able to take pictures of whatever I want, now! I will not be able to upload any until I am back in London, though.
After relaxing in a Starbucks that had internet, I returned to the apartment to rest. The afternoon was spent in a local park, where a lady angrily asked for directions. I could not help, as I didn't understand the word for the place she was trying to find. When she rode past me later, she hissed and asked, "I thought you didn't know where it was." A lake, apparently. Which was right next to us.
Tuesday, I hunted for the Berlin Philharmonie, with only a vague idea of where it was. Luckily I found some maps along the way - it was like a treasure hunt. The place was under construction, so I just shot some photos and walked on. Moments later, a sign appeared: "Musical Instrument Museum - 50m."
During my 2.5/3 hours at the MIM, I learned that, before the war, they originally had a collection of 4500 instruments. After the war, it was battered down to 700. Some of the broken and destroyed instruments are still on display near the front door. The collection is now back up to a healthy >3000, including the fortepiano on which Weber composed Der Freschütz, Ben Franklin's glass harmonica, and the piano Lizst is playing in the painting, "Franz Liszt Fantasizing at the Piano" which possibly includes my Berlioz standing off to the left.
I saw the painting itself later that afternoon at the Altes Nationalgallerie. There was also a room full of Caspar David Friedrich, some incredible paintings of locations I had just seen the day before (Opera, Neue Wache - a 19th century war memorial), etc. etc. I left full of inspiration, with names of artists I'd never heard, and some examples of texture I one day hope to be able to emulate.
Wednesday, a very hot and sunny day, Julia, Lucy, and I drove to Potsdam, stopping along the way at the Wannsee (a large lake between Berlin and Potsdam). In Potsdam, we took a carriage ride around the park Sanssouci. The ride (in a carriage of 20 people) ended up being more of just...a ride/escape from the sun. There was narration (pre-recorded), but not much actual "seeing." A 15 minute break at the Neues Palais provided some nice photos, at least.
Today I am resting and entertaining Lucy. Today is even hotter than yesterday, so it will mostly be spent inside.
Early in the morning, I will be on the train to the Netherlands. I am very excited to see yet another new place - one I have been looking forward to for a long time. A huge fan of Dutch artists, I am ready to plant myself somewhere and just draw away a day. Plenty of photos will be taken, as always, and hopefully at least one of them will turn into a painting.