I’ve already mentioned the time it takes to get into the Reichstag, well as we wandered around Berlin there were pink posters everywhere. MoMa, New York’s Museum of Modern Art had lent 200 works to the Neue Nationalgalerie at the Kulturforum from 1880 onwards, giving an amazingly full tour of twentieth century art. We’re talking Cézanne, van Gogh, Kandinsky and Monet; Matisse and Picasso; Man Ray, Klee, Magritte and Dalí; Hopper, Pollock, Warhol and Lichtenstein. Well just too many really, but all organised in the most accessible way. A place to spend hours you don’t have.
As you’d except the queues were lengthy – two and three-quarter hours – with Ikea sponsored seats for those for whom it was all too much. But somehow it was pleasant nevertheless and there’s no doubting it was worthwhile. The exhibition website is extremely good, despite the rather naff 20 Century Fox style intro. Hopefully they’ll keep it up forever as an archive.
After that we wandered around Potsdamer Platz, where the new Berlin is most visible in the form of the Sony Center and Daimler City. It’s worth mentioning that there is very little sign of the Berlin Wall left, though many shops sell chunks of what they claim is wall, but is almost certainly manufactured for the tourists. You would never guess that it ran just in front of the Brandenburg Gate. However, there is a small section at Potsdamer Platz and for a short way the path of the wall is marked out. It’s already been built over in places. Germans don’t wish to remember it, which is fair enough.
That evening I tried out the hotel’s fitness room. I wasn’t optimistic as we’d had a quick look on the Friday night and found it had been converted conference room, but I asked reception and they said they’d reinstate it. Anyway, it was just a bike and two weight machines. A second user’s arrival and it was crowded. Never mind.
That evening we travelled to increasingly trendy Hackeschen Market, in the former East Berlin, taking a walk from Alexanderplatz which boasts the TV tower. We didn’t go up and the plaza is pretty grim. But Hackeschen Market is a model of urban regeneration – plenty of new restaurants, bars and clubs. We opted for pasta at Ossena. You know you’re in the East side by the traffic lights. East Berlin’s green and red men have an old fashioned working class feel to them. The little man’s quite an icon and, ironically perhaps, has been heavily commercialised appearing on t-shirts, oven gloves; as a table lamp, wine stopper or a bottle opener. He’ll be on Letterman next.