Monday, 13 June 2011

The Hippie Carnival of Cultures & the Jewish Museum.

The Carnival of Cultures - Cocktail, sausage, earrings, baggy trousers, vile eco baby clothes, I'm starting to need a cocktail... Oh, that's handy! Cocktail stand!!

The Carnival of Cultures - Some non-hippie culture

The Carnival of Cultures - Would you buy one of these pretzels off that bench, even if they're sitting on a sanitized newspaper?

The Jewish Museum - A bit more culture. Designed by Daniel Libeskind.

The Jewish Museum - The Garden of Exile.

We've had friends staying for the past 5 days. We dazzled them with my mediocre cooking skills, and showed them the innumerable play parks of Berlin. They'd intended going on the hop on, hop off bus tour but my friend felt a bit sick - too sick to get on a bus, so some of the sights were never seen. I think seeing your child fly off a zip wire at great velocity is more exciting than the Victory Column and Gendarmenmarkt put together anyway.

We decided to take them to the Carnival of Cultures (Karneval der Kulturen) in Kreuzberg, except we went at different times. We'd planned on going together but as my friend was feeling a little sick the men went off and enjoyed an evening there drinking effeminate-sounding cocktails, and came home with tales of how amazing it was. When asked for specifics, they were a bit hazy, and we suspect that they may not have gone much further than the first cocktail stand they hit coming out of the U-Bahn.

We went the following day for a look around. Maybe the lack of cocktails in our system was to our detriment, because we weren't that impressed. Who knew there were so many hippies in Kreuzberg? It was busy enough, but it seemed a little short on the culture front. I have the feeling we might have seen a bit more culture if we'd made it to the parade the day before, but by the time we got there there was just an awful lot of hippie culture to see. The streets were lined with lots of stalls, but it seemed as though every sixth stall was the same. Cocktail stand, food stand, hippie earrings stand, MC Hammer trouser stand, oddly stitched leather bag stand, and oh, cocktail stand, food stand, hippie jewelry stand... and so on.

Once the rain started we decided to give it a miss and followed the signs for the Jewish Museum, which I've been wanting to visit for more than a year now. I love the building. It's in every Berlin guide book. It was designed by Daniel Libeskind and is quite an odd building to be in. The angles are all over the place, at times you are walking at such an odd angle your feet don't feel quite right. This is especially so in The Garden of Exile, which is meant to represent the feelings of disorientation that exiled Jews felt as newcomers in other countries. It certainly is disorientating. The ground is angled and there are large stone blocks rising up fro the ground at an odd angle and you feel walking through it that your feet are at odds with where your brain is. The whole place both building and exhibits are very thought-provoking. My favourite bits were definetly the void areas - the one with the art installation by Menashe Kadishman with the 10,000 metal faces lying on the floor; the one where you go into a dark room where there is just one slice of daylight coming in at the corner in the roof and you can hear the sounds of outside coming in while you stand quietly in the dark; and the Garden of Exile.

I'd heard mixed reviews of the Jewish Museum from various people I've met in Berlin, but I would highly recommend it. All exhibits are in both German and English and you can also hire an audio guide. Even if you weren't interested in Jewish history it is worth visiting for a look at the architecture alone.

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