After a moderate wait at Orly Airport (which we are nominating for 'worst airport wifi ever'), we took a short flight to Berlin, where our weather luck deserted us. We were met by my husband's uncle in a light drizzle and took the subway to their lovely apartment. After a nice brunch, the rain tapered off and set out for our first stop, the Deutsches Technikmuseum, (German Museum of Technology).
They have a magnificent Jacquard loom, the largest I've ever seen.
The Jacquard loom is famous not just for the fabric that bears its name, but for its groundbreaking technology- it could be set to make many different patterns using punch cards. This was a revolutionary idea which was very important in early computers.
We couldn't possibly miss the steam locomotives (this one was a freight locomotive):
By the time we left the museum, the day was clearing up beautifully. We walked past the ruins of Anhalter Bahnhof- it was the largest train station in Berlin before its destruction in WWII.
From there we took the train into the center of Berlin, to Potsdamer Platz, where there are a few sections of the Berlin wall still standing. With tasteful explanatory plaques in various languages.
A fascinating sight, since I recall seeing the news when the Berlin Wall came down. It was quite astonishing how thoroughly Germany has re-integrated. Standing in Potsdamer Platz you can turn 360 degrees and scarcely see any buildings more than 20 years old. I'm not a fan of modern architechture, but I quite liked the canopied central plaza.
My husband's aunt took us for flammkuchen at the restaurant overlooking the plaza. Thus fortified, we set out walking.
We walked up to the Holocaust Memorial. There wasn't time to see it the first day, but we returned later. Having seen the Holocaust museum in Washington DC, I had wondered if this would be different and it was. Aside from the heavy freighting of significance given simply by the location, this museum was built as a memorial to the victims- all the lives destroyed. It was well done- and unlike many museums, the visitors were largely silent and solemn. No one was unmoved.
We passed through the Brandenburg Gate and walked under the Lindens.
We ambled through a bunch of interlinked courtyards filled with arty little stores and cafes, called Hackesche Höfe.
I found some roses for Valerie:
I was charmed to see that the center of one court had been filled with a giant sandbox, for the entertainment of the kinder.
We regarded this as sort of a preliminary exploration- we were staying for five days, so we had much more planned.