With an early start to the day, my dad and I went to get our legs loosened up by going to the Reichstag, which is home to the German parliament and topped with a roofless glass sphere, to book a reservation for later that day. On our way to the metro, we walked through the expansive green space of the Tiergarten. Although the park may not have the over the top beauty and majestic quality of Paris gardens, it is still an impressive sight for being such a massive garden in a busy, congested city such as Berlin. After ridding the metro a few times in Berlin, I was stunned by how much cleaner and less sketchy it is in comparison to the rotten underground of Paris; Berlin may be one of the largest cities in Europe but definitely does not come with the same risks and fear for your livelihood as Paris. To fill the gap until our slotted time for the Reichstag, we entered the largest church in Berlin at the Berliner Dom. Despite the damage done to it by the war and the necessary remodeling it needed, the building still shows its age and beauty. Inside, I found the largest organ I have ever seen to this point in my life and had the pleasure of hearing its music. The view from the top of the church revealed much of Berlin and its many neighborhoods. Getting to the top of the dome was excruciating. Even though St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and the Eiffel Tower have more steps and a steeper climb, the accumulation of my walking is starting to get to me. I’m beginning to feel like an old man. Anyways, after that we realized we were running out of time for our appointment at the Reichstag. We booked it across town (I don’t know if you could really call it that but with those weary legs I felt like I was running a 100 meter dash the whole time there). Surprisingly, we made it there on time. The Reichstag is an impressive building loaded with history during its time throughout the war and thereafter. The top presented us with a view of the entire Tiergarten, which gave us a better perspective of how much space it takes up within the city of Berlin. With this bird’s eye view, we could also see some of Berlin’s famous surrounding monuments such as the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate. When we first arrived in Berlin, the city seemed underwhelming in its size, almost comparable to Cleveland but this viewpoint changed my whole perspective. Berlin began to live up to its reputation as one of the largest cities in Europe. I sat down against a wall atop the Reichstag to get some much needed rest for legs but a security guard quickly told me “nein” or no. This was not even the first time this has happened; apparently Germans like to keep on the go. Before the Pergamon Museum would close for the day, we tried to enjoy what we could of what is supposed to be the best museum in Berlin. It had interesting artifacts from the Babylonian empire as well as from Asian history, including the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate which were impressive in their own right, but it was not what I was looking for as far as experiencing Berlin; everything started to just blend together. As hunger crept up ever so strongly we made our way to Un Sicht Bar, which is a restaurant in which you eat in the dark and highly suggested by my sister. The whole idea of the experience is to let go of the sense that you use most frequently use and let the others, taste, smell, touch, and hearing play a larger part. To start off, we ordered from a menu that is divided into beef, poultry, fish, and vegetarian themed courses. These courses give you no details as to what you will be eating but instead offer riddles for you to guess what you will be encountering in the dark. We were greeted by our blind waitress Angela who had a couple of women join us in a conga line with each person putting their hands on the others’ shoulders to help navigate us through the darkness. Upon entering what I believed to be the center of the room, I felt what a blind person must deal with on a daily basis. I had to surrender to the abilities of my touch and hearing to help get a feel for where I was; also I was completely dependent on my girl Angela for what to do. The first course was supposed to be a salad but my first several bites had no semblance of lettuce or any other green. Being a foodie, I love to analyze my food to figure out what spices are in it or fully appreciate the texture and style (this may sound bizarre to you but that is what makes me a foodie). Since I could not see the plate I had no idea how much was on the plate or where they food on the plate ended. Being in the dark, I figured why not get my hands a little dirty too since no one was going to see me playing with my food. After sipping up some soup, we were presented with our entrees. The food was so delicious I might have literally licked the plate clean (I bet you are both disgusted and jealous after hearing that). The dessert was a confusion of small plates on one larger dish which led me to act like a total kid and have a grand ol’ time dissecting my food and getting my sense of touch in the act. At the end of the meal, we were led out of this room of darkness and into the light after two hours without it and got our eyes all readjusted. Un Sicht Bar has solution menus to reveal what you just tasted; I was surprised at how many of the ingredients and spices I was able to pick out. The most rewarding part of the meal was that my dad and I were able to talk for the most time thus far in the trip without distractions like people watching to fill the time. With full bellies, we went to Hackestrasse Market which is loaded with bars and restaurants as well as a food and arts market during the day. Here we each had a beer while watching the German national team play a friendly as they and I both anticipated the upcoming World Cup. Today left me spent but also wanting so much more in terms of discovering what else can be found in the nooks and crannies of Berlin and Europe as a whole.
Day 11: Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked