Monday, 14 July 2014

Berlin and Frankfurt (Oder)

Museums + , Berlin 2014

Deutsches Technikmuseum
A great excuse to look over some wonderful old steam trains and carriages, fitted out as in their glory days in a country as fond of steam as Britain.  Historical ships remembered in painstakingly worked models, some of course in bottles, and a full-sized rigging on the ship reaching up into the rafters of the four or five storey building.
On the roof, an example of the famous Rosinenbomber ("raisin bombers") which kept West Berlin supplied during the Stalinist blockade of 1948.  
Slightly away from the core locations of Berlin's museums, this was really rewarding to visit, a sideways step from ancient history or classic paintings, but technology is such a base of society and its development and I'm trying to pick up more on basic science and tech as I get a bit older ... 

Frankfurt an der Oder
An hour away from Berlin and right on the Polish border, a pleasantly sleepy, historic, university town in the holidays, people around but no-one in the 
local museum and gallery where the eager assistant proved very keen to explain some intriguing displays to us, a figure suspended in air or paintings matched by those standing opposite.
Only the two of us, plus the keen attendant and the ticket-seller on the entrance.
History of the town with changes of political rule.  
Just over the border-bridge, Slubice, sleepy twin and once part of the same town, cheap cigarettes, hairdressers, and a mix of German and Polish language on the street.  Collegium Polonicum mirroring the 16th (?) century Viadrina University on the German side, a bright new construction with the library too.
A relaxing alternative to the edgy dynamism of Berlin, and time out just to sit in a cafe undercover with the rain coming down again in a stormy Summer.
Seeing local life going by or taking it easy after the working week, a local feel more than a tourist destination, even if literary tourism is drawn here by the museum to Heinrich von Kleist (and his poet brother Ewald).
So much German history is in the east, and cultural centres went and go beyond arbitrary borders and blend with each other and offer a counter-weight to contemporary economic success and financial market centres.
Plenty of sparrows again too, they seem to be populous here whereas decimated in Britain.
Strolling over the border to Poland without even a cursory glance from a border guard as there is none.  I was here once before, in 2003, and some members of the group I was with had to stay in Germany, as they were from outside Europe and didn't have visas.  There was certainly a border control too.
Life would be so much easier without borders, controls, guards, terrorists and the fear of terrorists, political controls and national egos and agendas.
Will they ever disappear, properly, globally ?  Unlikely.

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