They call me Miss Adventures. (Geddit?)

I am what you might call an unlucky person. Not in that I feel persecuted by karma or have suffered endless tragedy, but simply because my days are filled with minuscule misfortunes and clumsy accidents, some of which I admittedly cause and some of which just seem to come to me as if attracted by a magnet. My life reads like an indescribably dull version of those Lemony Snicket books minus the orphans and genuine villains (although with an equally whimsical and contrived narrative). The misfortunes that do occur at least have the decency to be farcically bizarre, and naturally the bad-luck-fairies began rubbing their hands with glee the moment my grandparents stepped off their plane and turned to me as their tour guide for the two days to follow. Die Armen.

So: Sunday. I had been straining my every muscle to try to get us booked in to visit the Reichstag for weeks prior to my guests’ arrival; ever since a terror threat a couple of months ago the Reichstag has been closed to the general public, and one is only permitted entrance under the following conditions:
1) If you are booked into the Reichstag roof restaurant, a place I can only imagine was placed so high up on the building to allow the staff to look down their noses upon all of Berlin at once. For a weekend you will need to book a table a good three or four weeks in advance, otherwise you will still need to give it a good few days if you are willing to brave nursing an orange juice there for an hour to get into the Reichstag.
2) If you reserve a place in a 90-minute tour of the building where you will learn fascinating facts and presumably get to touch Angela Merkel’s hair. At least, this is how I imagine it.
3) If you reserve a place in a German-language lecture (for some inexplicable reason English talks are only given on Tuesdays) on the workings of German parliament and politics. Good grief, I’m sorry you had to read that – I promise I won’t make you go to one of those. At any rate, given that my grandmother once fell asleep and snored in a critically acclaimed theatrical performance of the wonderful ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman I doubted she might be happy to sit through this.

Nonetheless, the Reichstag really is a must-do sight of Berlin; the building itself is spectacular to look at thanks to the fantastic combination of the classical architecture of the original, sadly bombed-out shell and the beautiful glass dome Norman Foster designed to reaffirm the building as a symbol of German democracy and unity. It’s free to visit and you get a spectacular view of the city from the roof as well as from the inside of the dome, which is a partially-open structure with two parallel helix walkways taking you around an incredible central mirrored funnel reflecting light down into the debating chamber. The whole thing is a liveable optical illusion, an interactive Escher picture, and it’s brilliant. I had to get my granny and grandpa inside. This is where useful insider experience comes in; the last time I visited my mother just so happened to be using a crutch due to a healing broken leg and was ushered with sweet and kindly concern directly past the hour-and-a-half queue into the VIP lift to the top. Thus for Sunday morning my grandmother became a weak old arthritic lady who simply couldn’t stand or walk for more than a few minutes of a time, and thus we avoided any talks or tours or anything. The view from the roof was great although the wind so piercingly cold we gave up after the dome and went in search of the holocaust memorial.

Apparently there is an information centre/mini-museum under the memorial but it seems to exist on a different spatial dimension to the memorial itself as we walked through the black blocks for a chilly age trying to find the damn thing. Giving up, I took them to lunch at a place I promised did the most fantastic and soul-warming soups. Naturally, they were out of soup – well, except for the chilled cucumber gazpacho, which was coincidentally the exact colour and temperature of the sky outside, so we continued our wanderings. We came across two eateries, both of which looked lovely, and so choosing one at random we went inside. There were only two people working there, the chef in the open kitchen and the waitress who took our order. Naturally the minute we had finished making our order the only other customer in the restaurant took a pause from her asparagus and ham to collapse at her table and go blue. Ambulances and emergency doctors came, a pair of British tourists came in and instantly left (presumably assuming that the asparagus had killed the poor woman), the woman gradually came to in the recovery position and was escorted away, the chef and waitress recovered from their heart attacks, and eventually life went on in bizarrely banal fashion. 

Finally we squeezed in the Technisches Museum, where my grandmother fell over directly into the Holocaust victims’ train carriage and whacked her bad knee. It’s a curse, I tells ye.

Rose T

Jill of all trades: writer, illustrator, designer, editor, web designer, craft maniac

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