Friday, May 31, 2019

Hostel Hell

Hostile Hostel Hell

I slept a good eight hours last night and was sorry to have to leave the nice pension where I’ve spent the last two nights.  Well, I thought, it will give me a chance to check out the Generator Hostel in Prenzlauer Berg, which I’ve thought about booking before.  For the last three trips, we’ve stayed it her sister location in Mitte, so I figured this place would be similar.  I was wrong.

First, it’s really more like Prenzlauer Berg adjacent.  Eleven minutes and three stations east and south of where I was staying in Prenzlauer Berg. According to the maps, it technically is in the far eastern section of the neighborhood, but this really is quite different from the neighborhood I’ve been staying in since 2006.

When I arrived at 10:30, I knew it was too early to check into my room, so I asked where I could leave my luggage.  “Up the stairs and to the left.”  There I found a room of lockers that I could rent by the hour.  Talking about nickel and diming your clientele (I suppose that should be pfennig and cent)!  I rented for six hours, put away my suitcase and book bag, and headed out Museum Insel.

Since the only museum I’ve ever gone to on Museum Insel is the Pergamon, I thought today might a good day to check out what else is there.  I bought a pass to the other museums on the island and started with the Neues Museum, which holds their Egyptian collection and other antiquities.

The audio guide was complimentary, but mostly useless.  Half the time when I pressed in a number of an item I wanted to learn about I had an error message “no such number.” I enjoyed several of the Egyptian statuary, including their most famous piece:  the bust of Nefertiti. 

I was also surprised to see the jewelry that Schliemann did at the site he identified of Troy, but of course, he was German, so surely much of his finds came here.  They have a fair amount of the gold and silver Schliemann believed (without much evidence) belonged to King Priam, but they are rather bitter about the stuff stolen by the Russians after WWII.  That being said, if the gold and silver “belonged” to anyone, it’s probably the people of Turkey, so I’m not sure the museum is really in the right here.

By 1 pm, I needed lunch, so I walked over the Spree to a little neighborhood store and bought a sandwich, and then ate it on a shady bench (it was a bright and sunny day) along the Spree.  My second museum of the day was the Alte National Galerie.  This is a complement to the Neue National Galerie, which is closed for remodeling, and is devoted to mostly German paintings of the nineteenth century. 

I really liked two of the Casper David Friedrich paintings they had, though the rest were just ok.  Monk on the Sea and The Abbey Among Oak Trees, captures well the German Romantic spirit that Friedrich represents so well.  Josef Danhauser’s 1840 painting, Liszt at the Piano, also is wonderfully melodramatic, with Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, George Sand, Niccolo Paganini, and Giaocchino Rossini all in attendance.  His girlfriend, Countess Marie d’Agoult has her back to us as she sits at his feet.

Their Impressionist exhibit included a rather prominent painting by Gustave Caillebot:  Paris Street, Rainy Day.  “But you’re in Chicago!” I thought.  Sure enough, it’s on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The rooms dedicated to realism, on the other hand, were quite confusing.  Some fit that description, but pointillist works? Symbolist paintings called “Guardian in Front of the Garden of Love”?  Lesser Ury’s “In a Café.  Woman in Red”?  After a break for Apfelschorle (sort of apple cider) in the gift shop, it was time to check into the hostel.

I had no trouble checking in and retrieved my luggage.  My room is on the fourth floor, but it turns out only one elevator is working and thus has seven floors and 240 rooms, many of them dorm rooms with many people staying in each.  Each time I’ve been in the elevator, it’s been full to capacity.  I’ll be taking the stairs a lot.

My room is rather small.  Not only is it smaller than where I was staying, it’s smaller than the rooms at the Generator Hostel Mitte.  In fact, the room is smaller than the cabin my father and I had on the ship last summer.  The hallway has a really funky smell too.  I could hear parents and children screaming the hall, and there were children running up and down the central stairs, and in the dinner café where I’m typing this now.  It’s really noisy, though I’m hoping none of that will be audible in my room four floors up.  Breakfast isn’t included, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see what my 6 euros will buy me. Well, it’s only for two nights.

After all that, I felt I deserved a treat, so I went back to Schönhauser Allee to buy the paper and get some Kaffee und Kuchen, but it’s closed for the holiday.  Instead, I went to Friedrichstrasse Station, which was open. Then I walked all the way to Gendermenmarkt to the Fassbender und Rausch chocolate store I took my niece and nephew last summer.   They’ve really changed the main sales floor, but I was more interested in the chocolate café upstairs.

I knew I was going to get a Milchkaffee, but I wasn’t sure what to get as a dessert.  I asked the waitress which she preferred:  the Marzipan Törtchen or the Mozart Törtchen?  First, she said that both were good, but then she pointed out that the Mozart had pistachios, which I think was her way of suggesting it, so I ordered it.  The menu describes it as “a duet of nougat and pistachio mousse with dark sponge cake.  The cake forms the base for the nougat and the mousse, topped with a thin chocolate wafer and a little garnish of chopped pistachios in a light sweet syrup.  It was the relaxation that I needed.

My last museum of the day was the Film Museum in Potsdamer Platz.  Sure enough it was free, and I spent a fair amount of time with both the Weimar film section and the Nazi film section.  They really love Marlene there.

For dinner, I headed back to Gugelhof in Prenzlauer Berg.  They have one of my all-time favorite appetizers:  duck liver crème brulee with onion marmalade and salad.  The main course of schnitzel wasn’t bad, but wasn’t particularly special.  Still, at least tonight, the waitress didn’t forget me, but brought me the bill immediately after I asked for it.

That was probably the heaviest meal I’ve eaten since I left the States, so I took a 20-minute walk afterwards to help digest.  Now, I’m back in the hostel trying to cope with all the noise. 

No comments: