Day 6 – The Monkey Enclosure

Today started with something free which is unusual in this world. I went to our soon to be not local coffee shop. Translated our order into hand signals and gestures and the woman told me that my coffee was free today. Isn’t that nice. A very nice way to start the day especially with the Milka chocolate muffin that I enjoyed with it.

Today we hired bicycles and thought we’d get to a few sights which were slightly out of our walking reach. The bicycles were initially hard to get used to with their curved back wide handlebars. There is one other main consideration as well, people in Germany drive on the right and not on the left so you have to recondition your brain to work the opposite from what’s its used to. Thankfully the majority of our trips were on bike paths and we probably only hit the main roads for maybe 10-15 minutes out of a couple of hours of cycling.

 Our first stop was the East Side Gallery. A section of the wall where artists have painted. The stretch may have been a kilometre long with the back end of the wall showing photographs from Syria and the effect of the war there. The art was nice and there were lots of people looking. At the end we found the Pirate bay and stopped for some light refreshments and an ice cream.

Our cycle from there was into the Tiergarten. A giant park in the west of the city. We cycled up and down the tree covered avenues whilst cycling one handed, trying to take pictures of each other. We had a tip the Monkey Bar was good so headed over there for our afternoon sojourn. The bar was on the roof of a hotel. The bar itself was packed but we noticed a restaurant next door, Neni. The view was the same (over the monkey enclosure at the zoo) and we pretty much had the best meal we’ve had in Berlin. The cuisine was Middle eastern mixed with German. A few beers later and we cycled back to our place to refresh before our evening adventure. On the way we cycled under the Brandenburg gate, which was quite impressive in itself. 

The evening we spent at the Berlin Philharmonic. Research told us it was one of the best orchestras in the world so the thinking was, in case we don’t return again it was too good of an opportunity to miss. The concert we watched was John Adams conducting John Adams. To give a bit of background, John Adams is an American composer who most famously probably wrote the theme for Game of Thrones. The concert was a couple of pieces (no GoT though). We didn’t think to pick up a programme on the way in but decided to pick up one at the break in English to understand why he’d written the pieces and what they were about. The difference for me between the first and second half were stark.

I often think that art is very individual. Take looking at a painting, for some people it talks to them in one way and for others completely another. I think the more open to interpretation a piece is, the more it speaks to an individual. Back to the concert, the first half not understanding what the music was about and the motivation, I really enjoyed. The second half supposedly composed after going to a gallery in France and reading ‘Arabian Nights’ not so much. I put this down to the above, it wasn’t able to speak to me in a way I wanted because I knew what the artist had intended for it, saying that I did enjoy the spectacle. 

Concerts and any live music events aren’t just about the music. It as much visual as well. Watching the bows from the string section raise into the air in unison, the soloist jump about the stage and the percussion jump between instruments, for me, is as much the concert as the actual music.

A good and tiring day, only a couple left before returning to Melbourne.


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