Books from Berlin

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Let it be stated first that I am horrifyingly bad at remembering to take photographs as proof from my adventures out in the great, big world! With the lack of photographic evidence you’ll just have to take my word for it that I actually stepped out of my home (for once) in order to make a trip to Berlin. Taru and I spent six days there and returned home on Thursday.

How was the trip, then?

Museums were visited. Three museums, to be exact: the DDR Museum (where I painted a cat on a digital version of the Berlin wall with a digital spray can), a “corpse museum” (Gunter von Hagens’ Body Worlds, or Körperwelten) and Loxx am Alex Miniatur Welten, a museum that exhibits a vast miniature version of Berlin, among other miniature models. Many curious and delightful details could be spotted in this miniature Berlin, one of my favourites being a ghost-infested cemetery. Speaking of creepy things, this was the second time I visited a Body Worlds exhibition. (The first one I saw in Finland when the exhibition was held in Science Center Heureka.) I might be wrong, but I was left with the impression that the one I saw in Finland actually had more things to see… Anyway, it felt it didn’t take long for us to go through the exhibition, even though we took time to view the body parts on display. Maybe the fault is in me and not on the exhibition — I could stare at the marvels and beauty of human bodies for ages!

Ice cream was eaten. But none of that regular chocolate-vanilla-strawberry stuff, no. We were told by a reliable source to try the more strange sounding flavours fearlessly, and so we did. Coconut was the most ordinary of the flavours we tried. The others were saffron, lemon-basil and apple-bergamot. All were good, even if the apple-bergamot was a tad bitter.

A concert was experienced. A concert of Princess Chelsea was the main reason we went to Berlin at the time that we did. I wasn’t really familiar with her music beforehand, but it turned out I remembered hearing nearly all of the performed songs before anyway, thanks to Taru, who listens to Princess Chelsea quite a lot. As someone who’s terrified of crowds and loud noise, I was somewhat concerned about going, but am glad that I did. Someone whistled and cheered very loudly right into my ear near the end of the concert, but apart from that it was a very nice experience.

Feet were aching from walking for hours every day. Our choice of hotel was partially to blame for this — no matter what direction we wanted to go to, a considerable distance of nothing but long, empty streets and very wide roads had to be crossed first. The distance probably felt longer than it actually was, because there wasn’t really much of interest in that area around our hotel. Fortunately interesting things could be seen elsewhere, so we walked around. A lot. But we stopped for a coffee or tasty edibles when necessary, so by the time we got back to the hotel we were only slightly dead from exhaustion.

And, of course, books were hunted. For what would a trip abroad be without seeing how much newly acquired books one can stuff into the luggage before it becomes obvious that the weight limits have been grossly exceeded? On this journey the amount of new books remained quite sensible, though — only six new books travelled home with us.

Here are the first three: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, and a complete collection of poems by Bertolt Brecht (all packed in a book that manages to be small and have over 1600 pages at the same time). My German is actually limited to recognizing two different ways of apologizing and (probably) understanding if someone tells me I’ve played too much cello and that I have polyps in my nose, so Brecht’s poems in German shall remain a kind of a curiosity item for me. At least until a Magical German-teaching Fairy comes and waves its wand at me, granting me a gift of understanding German.

The second set of three books, bought a day before leaving: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth and The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester. A certain amount of last minute panic was involved in the decision to buy these, I admit. Still, all three seem very interesting, even though The Miniaturist is the only one of these that I have head something of before.

(Seems that hardcover books are as difficult to come by in Berlin as they are in Finland. Some years ago I asked about this from a salesperson in a large bookshop in Finland, and she told me that once a paperpack version of a book comes out, they stop taking in more hardcover versions of the same book. Gah! What humbug!)

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