October 10, 11 & 12 – Due to technical difficulties, I was unable to complete the travelogue of our awesome trip overseas. So I’ll take up where I left off with some belated updates.
There were a couple of additional pix and notes about our day trip to Erfurt that I wasn’t able to include in the last post, Erfurt 2: On the Trail of Sponge Bob. So I’ll include them here, because we met and spoke to a very interesting character, who is an artist that works in leather, primarily. But the most interesting thing was her involvement with a group called “Club zur Rettung der Handschrift” or The Organization to Save Handwriting. We all thought these two involvements were interesting and Page, especially, spent a long time in her crowded shop, chatting with her in German. This is his portrait of her, Gabriele Trillhaase.
After our excursion to Erfurt the day before, we rested and recovered on Tuesday, the 10th. We read books and vegged until dinner time, when we went to a place in the neighborhood called La Piadina, which Ini recommended. Evidently the primary serving of the eponymous restaurant is an Italian speciality—a freshly baked flatbread folded in half and filled with delightful veggies, meats, cheeses, and sauces. They also serve delicious soups, according to Ini. We watched the fellow behind the counter grab a wad of dough, run it through a few rollers to flatten and round it, then he tossed each on a griddle. When done, the bread was passed to the next person and he or she “built” each piadina to order. Unless you ordered meat, which in some cases was warmed, the only thing heated was the bread, and the veggies and cheese wilted and melted delightfully.
Our walk home was as interesting as the food, but we headed to bed after a nightcap and got an early start on sleep. Some of the things seen in shop windows:
Wednesday, October 11 was a day we all got ready for some visitors whom Ini and Lee knew from their days in the US – Maya and Mark, plus their young daughter whose name I never quite glommed onto. Ini had been friends with Maya’s mom, while Maya and Lee were the same age, but had attended different elementary schools in Roanoke back in the mid-90s. During the time that Lee had been at Hollins for a year, she and Maya had linked back up briefly, but other than that, they had not seen one another since they were about 10 years old. Now they’re both in their early thirties—Maya and Mark live in Charlottesville, Virginia. So there was quite a lot of catching up to be done during the gathering.
While Ini was at work, Jack and I did some chores around the apartment (tidying and such) and the “word” was that they’d arrive from the US (literally off the plane) around 3PM, and come to dinner around 5.
It truly was a lovely evening and Maya and Mark were excellent guests and fun for Jack and me to meet for the first time. Mark was in the city for a conference of doctors – he’s a tech developer who creates apps and “games” so users can track their health, fitness, and “watch” issues (like diabetes), with the data being directly transferrable to their medical professionals. Mark said he was going to have to “yell” at the conference attendants about using any sort of a point system as incentives for users to actually use and send their data. Mild-mannered Mark was not looking forward to “yelling” at anyone, but he said doctors all wanted to have users accumulate points so they’d stay involved with the health apps. Mark’s goal was to show them that this did not work, but that competing with friends or family, or with strangers in a set group (or even with themselves) would offer much more in the way of incentive than accumulating points that in the end, mean nothing because they’re not able to be “cashed in” like air miles. Too bad preventative health insurance companies could not take the points and lower a person’s premiums or offer some other measurable/usable point system that would have real-life returns.
Anyway, we had a lovely evening and Ini fixed a beautiful dinner, including rice, that the baby was totally loving, but also threw on the floor and seats and table – as babies are wont to do.
Thursday, October 12 – We decided to get out of the apartment, but the weather was still overcast, and if it wasn’t actually raining, it threatened rain. Ini had to work the late shift at the antiques store, so Page, Jack and I headed off to a photography exhibit Page wanted to see, and to stretch our legs back out after walking around Erfurt. To me, the exhibit was nothing to howl about, and for Page, who had told us his expectations were rather low about its value, he said his expectations were met.
But the walk was good and we stopped by the “Monkey Bar” right outside the zoo, and made a couple of other stops, one of which was to have a quick beer.
After Ini returned from work, we all decided to go out to the Berlin Illumination, which was a big deal (possibly associated with the reunification celebrations?) but I thought it would be merely some buildings with different colored lights shining on them, and I was sort of ho-hum about it. Indeed, there were a couple that were simple illuminations as I’d imagined, but the main event was way downtown, and mostly shining on the buildings used by Humboldt University. Wow. Most of the pix here are stills, of course—but many of the illuminations were short films and the buildings were the “screens” that played a part in the images. I was not able to capture adequately some of the films that actually (and drastically) altered the appearance and architecture of the buildings themselves! Windows would be changed to have arched tops; columns would be added where there were none; subtle brick would be changed to mortared stone; and actual roof lines were changed. It was truly awesome and lots and lots of peeps were down in Mitte to see it all.
These short videos show the scope of the broad square, plus a couple of the “films” we saw.
It was truly an amazing night, and I’m so glad we made the effort to get down there to see Berlin’s Festival of Lights.