Monday, January 5, 2009


Considering how hard it was snowing when we went to bed, and that it was still snowing when we woke up, we were surprised at how little new snow was actually on the ground. We had made a tentative itinerary for the day at the Barbie Bar, but Danielle came across a listing for the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark, a Sunday flea market in Prenzlauer Berg, and we decided that since we wouldn’t have another full Sunday in Berlin that we ought to do that instead and then just see what happens after that. After Frühstuck we headed out. Although it was snowing, and would continue to snow throughout the whole day, it was considerably warmer than Saturday, and it was nice to be walking again.
We got off the U at Prenzlauer Berg, and the first thing we noticed is that hipsters look the same in Germany as they do in the U.S. Everyone was headed to the flea market. We stopped for coffee at a café, where our barista seemed to speak Spanish, Italian, German and English, hit the ATM, and joined the mob of people headed for the market. We were greeted at the market by a friendly character in a WWI-ish outfit who honked a horn at us, handed Danielle a flower and then had Zach honk the horn again. He mumbled something in a language that was indiscernible, and we concluded that we had just been blessed. Hand-made jewelry, clothing, piles upon piles of random junk, record collections, butterfly collections, stereos, clocks, a gun, a skateboard, a singing bass, Turkish Dürüm sandwiches on breads being made on-site by a Turkish grandmother, furniture, house wares, and on, and on, and on. We purchased what may be the top of a rabbit’s skull that has been fitted with horns and mounted like a trophy for our apartment and two cups of Glühwein from a man who we imagine drinks his Glühwein all Sunday long as he haggles with buyers.
From the market we went in search of a café, Kakao, which we may have found, but that wasn’t open. It looked as of they had had a New Year’s celebration and then just left without cleaning, much like the streets of Berlin which are still littered with empty champagne bottles and the remnants of fireworks; it must have been fun to be here on New Year’s Eve. We eventually settled in at Hans Wurst, a vegan café, for chai tea and hot cocoa with locals who sweeten their coffee and tea with agave nectar rather than honey, because agave nectar is not made by animals.


In the Government Quarter is the Hamburger-Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art. A whole wing is designated to Josef Beuys, and the main exhibit is currently Beuys: Die Revolution Sind Wir. Highlights for us, in addition to the Beuys exhibits, included: Marcel Duchamp’s remakes of his own In Advance of the Broken Arm, Roue de bicyclette, and Porte-bouteilles; an impressive collection of gigantic Warhol silk screens as part of the Kult des Kunstlers; Richard Jackson’s absolutely hilarious Deer Beer; and Ugo Rondinone’s Where Do We Go From Here? Well, first to the Chancellery Building, then to the Reichstag, and then to the Brandenburg Gate. It had gotten dark, and the snow was falling heavy again. The walk from the museum was very phantasmagorical. With the snow, and the lighting in the Government Quarter, and the gigantic classical structures, it was impossible to know where we were in space, where we were in Berlin. We couldn’t tell if we were walking on a walkway, or on the lawn in front of the government buildings; we were just walking.

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