Postcard from Berlin

Portrait of a Young Woman, Rogier van der Weyden

We have been staying in Berlin with The Daughter (my first visit there since I crossed Europe in an A30 van with two friends as a student, driving through Checkpoint Charlie en route to Warsaw … but that was in another life). The Daughter’s temporary apartment is in old East Berlin, fairly central, near the Senefelderplatz U-bahn station. Rents are still low in Berlin, so little shops and small local cafés with just a handful of tables abound. And the cafés, at least, seem to be thriving: all different, offering different little menus, run by very welcoming young people. We’ve had some great coffee, nice meals, and love the atmosphere. And we much regret the lack of anything comparable here in Cambridge. It has been warm enough to sit at outside tables often enough, usually accompanied by crowds of chattering sparrows pecking at dropped crumbs (a much rarer sight in England than they used to be).

Getting around Berlin on trams and the U-bahn is fun (very cheap, very efficient — city public transport as it should be). And we’ve been bowled over by the museums and galleries: in six days we’ve perhaps had our fill for this trip, but we’ll have to be back soon. The Pergamon Museum is, as everyone says, amazing. But we’ve also especially enjoyed a couple of visits to the stunning collection of paintings at the Gemäldegalarie (and on both occasions the gallery seemed almost empty, at least by the oppressive standards of the National Gallery in London). You can see something of those paintings in the Google Art Project pages here. Simply wonderful.

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