Monday, November 30, 2009

Berlin's East Side Gallery

The lights just flipped on outside; as I write this I'm sitting on a cushioned stool, laptop resting on a window frame jutting out just enough to accommodate my needs. It's currently my final night in Berlin, and I've fallen behind in posting. I just put the last rushed touches on the previous entry, and will now attempt to construct something of substance for yesterday, while thinking about how I'm going to write up today.

The bar is too lound to close out the sounds with my own music, and my gmail chat is working as a constant distraction. There was no new episode of Stargate Universe this week, but the webisodes have been adding up – and I just discovered lost had those as well, a season back. I am a turbulent mess of what I should be doing, and what I am doing. And honestly, what I should be doing doesn't involve the blog either. What I should be doing is packing and showering – but I keep telling myself there will be time for that later. And there will be if I sacrifice some sleep; I'm no stranger to this. Still – five in the morning is going to come mighty early. Sure it's just six thirty five now, but just watch as it all adds up.

So the day begins with a breakfast loaded up with choco-cereal. You may remember that back in Iceland, I bought a similar cereal specifically because I hated it, and as such I knew it would last as long as it needed to. And it did.

But then, in Prague, I was offered a bowl of coco powder with my cornflakes. The combination of the two was too much to handle. What a wonderful combination. And now, here, I have discovered a cereal that comes premixed – just add milk. You wait long enough until the pieces become just the right amount of soggy and – well, you've not had something that good before. Well – you probably have. But, you, meaning me, has not. I have not.

Ah – you see – there I was distracted again. I wrote on the subway today (not today as in the day you are reading, but today as in the relative tomorrow that is to come) and now I've had to type it up and send it off to she whom will never reply anyway, because that just isn't her style. She whom also distracts me through the gChat. But enough of that, back to the day. There was cereal, and it was good. But it could not complete this whole revolution.

Up I rose from my table near the wall, and off to the east I began to walk. I considered taking the subway, but I thought that that money might otherwise come in handy later down the line. So it was walking for me. Plus – I could always ride back if I really felt like being lazy.

As I headed off I found myself walking past the atomic clock in what is one of Berlin's largest squares. The U, the S, the H, and the M all meet here. It's also here that I'll eventually catch the TXL bus to the airport, oh so early in the morning.

And as this is Germany, and as this is a square, and as it is a month before Christmas – there was, of course, a large Christmas market set up. But not just any Christmas market – no, this one was far closer to a country fair, or other such carnival. Shopping booths were augmented by a grand assortment of rides, and games, and other such things waiting to pull little children close, and send them screaming to their parents for more, more, more, euros!

Roller coasters, large ferris wheels, haunted houses (because London will not get to remain the only city that has silly skeletons wearing Santa hats), an Egyptian ride of uncanny origins, and most delightful of all to me, the Crystal Palace.

What is the Crystal Palace? How could it delight me? Did I go inside? No sir, I did not. But it delighted me in the way that all Germans seemingly come to love: Schadenfreude.

Yes this was an exercise in delight as people attempted to navigate themselves through a maze of solid glass – glass so well polished that it was neigh impossible to tell if in front of you was an opening, or another wall. Children who did not heed their parents advice to stay slow found themselves running into, then bouncing off of, panes of glass. Over. And over. And over. It was no boy falling down the up escalator, but for the moments that I watched, all was well.

This market was far larger than the others I had seen, and that was as it should be. After all, this is Berlin. And where better for a large fair? A large fair that kept reaching out east, east, east, in precisely the exact direction of my travel towards the East Side Gallery.

I was told that this was a section of former wall that had been given to street artists, and I thought that that would be a perfect place for me to see in the final days of my European adventure.

The closer I got, the better the Graffiti became. Right next to the gallery were some of the best pieces I've yet come across. And then I reached the gallery.

Right – the East Side Gallery. You would – well, I don't know. I expected graffiti. Which is a certain style. Now – don't get me wrong, I love comic books with all my heart, but imagine walking into a large royal art gallery and finding it full of comic book styled art. Now, personally, I would find that fantastic, flip out, and build myself a nest, never to leave – but your average person would be disappointed, even if they too loved comic books.

This describes my take on the east side gallery. It wasn't graffiti art – it was just... art. Think of the abstract works created by your former classmates in the final days of high school. Now picture these on slabs of concrete wall. They weren't that good back then, and they're not that good now. And that's what it is. Meter after meter of uninspired art. Now, sure, near the far east end there are some good pieces, but... well, I guess I had to come all this way to see it, else I would have imagined it to be something completely different, and far better.

Luckily the end of the wall was near the S-bahn station, and so I jumped on, headed back to the hostel, bunkered down, and prepared to end my travelles – not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Over an hours of Zelda: Twilight Princess cut scenes were watched on youtube (that's almost half contained in the game.) That's right. I watched them. For an hour. I don't need to explain myself to you – to anyone. I feel secure in my, whatever I need feel secure in after doing something as terrible as this.

But then I received a message through the facebook (see, it helps to stay connected) from the guy that I hung out with back in Dresden. He was in Berlin as well, and wanted to meet up. So three messages, and an hour subway ride later, he ended up in my neck of the woods.

Fantastic! Off we went on a quest for the Doner. But not just any Doner, a Durum Doner. Sure I knew where a close one was, but that wouldn't be fun. And it's not the best – so off we went to the Christmas market, which was now full of teenagers become more and more drunk – as seems to always be the case when the sun sets. Strangely there was no puking on the upside down spinning rides. Clearly the Germans do things differently than we do in Canada. The Zipper? The Markham Fair? There's a reason they kept a hose right next to that beast. Man – it would always suck to be in the car just below the guy who pops. And then it spins, and it spins – well never mind, there was none of that here.

There was also no Durum here, so next stop was a wander down the main drag – we passed all number of shops that seemed to cater to the very rich. We passed another market, wallked through the book burning square, and visited some gift shops. Still no durum. It was suggested to me that people might not be buying durum in the same area that they'd buy two thousand euro watches, or Mercedes, but – you know – even the very rich have to love a durum? It's a wrap, there's veggies, meat, tzatziki – what's not to love?

Oh good, it's been demanded that I entertain another on gChat. Good – this will speed things up. Well – that's the price of it. Onward!

We walked all the way down to the Brandenburger Tor and found – no durum. But, I had told my fellow Canadian traveller of the magical butter ├ęclair that was sold at a bakery down by the tor. Surely this would tide things over.

The bakery, of course, was closed.

Back to the train station where we had passed a durum hows ago – but it was fifty cents more than it should of been. On route we found... ... ... doners! But, again, no durum. Straight on to the train station. Once there the extra fifty cents were no longer something to complain about, but rather something to embrace.

And with that first bite? Magical satisfaction. Wandering the city streets for three hours trying to sate my huger, and finally getting exactly what I want? Now I know how Harold and Kumar must have felt.

And with that mission complete, I was at last ready to rest.

And thus ends the day of the East Side Gallery.

O.K. It's seven twenty two – one more post to write.

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