Date I was there: 29-30th June 2014
The next morning started with another big breakfast. I’d learned that fruit was a good starter. I’m never hungry first thing in the morning but a bowl of fruit warmed up my stomach and left me ready to hit the buffet. Again this morning there was meatballs, eggs, cheese, ham and bread but this time there was also cake; one slice and two mini-doughnuts to be exact. I reasoned that this was being cultural and doing as the Germans do.
Once we’d finished our breakfast, we headed over to Prenzlauer Berg to Mauer Park’s Sunday flea market, after a battle with the U Bahn ticket machine- little note, leave time for your ticket, if you’re in a hurry then there’s a good chance that they will decide not to work. The weather was threatening rain but thankfully we were only subject to a brief spattering. After wandering around the clothes, jewellery and antiques stalls and looking through the other bits and pieces, I came out with a silver ring. Sadly, we were done looking around the market way before the day’s karaoke was due to start and we couldn’t really hang around so we left for our next destination.
On Schönhauser Allee, there is a Jewish cemetery that somehow managed to survive the war. Since I have family buried there, we decided to go. We did know that it was closed on a Sunday but my dad knew that the graves were near the fence and, since we were close by, we decided to try our luck. After walking in the wrong direction for a little while, we eventually made it there but sadly all we could see were the very tops of the monuments. We’d have to try again tomorrow.
We eventually made it back to Gendarmenmarkt and decided it was the inevitable time to go for lunch at the chocolateirs, Fassbender and Rausch. The menu had been updated since our visit last year but since my lunch was even yummier I wasn’t complaining. My dad had a plate of ice cream, bananas and pieces of chocolate. I had a white chocolate mousse, with raspberries in the centre and sandwiched between a layer of sponge and a layer of raspberry goo (I don’t know how else to described it). The whole thing was then lovingly wrapped in a thin layer of white chocolate. I may need to hop on a plane now and get another one of those- but I’ll finish this post first. Also, I can’t not mention my hot chocolate. It was so rich and delicious that it needed to come with a little shot glass of water.
Needless to say, I needed a nap afterwards, however this would have been dangerous so instead we went to find the nearby Jewish Museum– another place neither of us had been to. Again it was well worth a visit. It placed what happened in the Second World War in the context of the whole of Jewish history (something I knew very little about). It also told the stories of some of the victims of WWII, had a memorial that seemed to mirror the Holocaust Memorial and was in a building that was as much of an exhibit as the items on display. It also had information on the religion itself and, whilst it was sad in places, it didn’t seem as somber as some of the other history museums.
Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel via Checkpoint Charlie, which we found outside McDonalds. We took some photos and then headed back for our pre-dinner nap. That night, we were going back to the place that was home to me last August: Kreuzberg. It was slightly surreal getting out of my old station (Kottbusser Tor) and walking the road towards the flat, seeing the new additions that had popped up. Thankfully our destination- Chaapa Thai Kitchen– was still there and just as delicious as I remembered. I had the same noodle dish as I had ordered on my previous visits but this time added starters of spring rolls, wantons and soup. We overestimated portion sizes and were almost too stuffed to move by the end. It was worth it though and my Thai beer helped ease it down. Sadly, however, we were in no position to go back to Newton Bar, so we went to bed.
The next morning we were both still full but made our way through breakfast nonetheless- although admittedly with smaller portions than usual. Since this was our last day, it was our last chance to visit the Jewish Cemetery. Thankfully, today it was open. We arrived and my dad was given a kippah to where and we went off to find the graves. Five of my relatives are buried there, all with impressive monuments although sadly one seems to have been attacked and now lays on the ground, next to where it once stood. We were surprised to see that someone had left stones on one of the graves- this implies another family member had visited, but we don’t know of any family that would visit, so it looks like we might have long lost relatives out there that we just don’t know about.
Sadly, we couldn’t stay long as we had to get back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head to the airport. Thankfully, the train journey back didn’t take nearly as long as the journey from Schönefeld and we were soon once again saying goodbye to Berlin.