Berlin: Jewish Museum


Although most of the museums I visited in Berlin ranged from mediocre to downright disappointing, I’ve saved the best one for last: the Jewish Museum. Not only was it air conditioned (a bonus in itself), it was also huge and well thought out.  However, you shouldn’t go expecting a Holocaust Museum (though there is one of those elsewhere in Berlin).  While there is obviously some content relating to the Holocaust, the primary focus of the museum is the history of Judaism.  It kind of reminded me of the Maltz Museum in Cleveland, which is also very good (although I haven’t blogged about it yet!), only much bigger!  The museum consists of two buildings, an old and a new; the new one contains all the permanent art installations.

P1120424  P1120423

You have to go through a full-on airport security style checkpoint upon entering the museum, but I do understand the reason for that.  However, I was irked by (and uncomprehending of) the different admission options.  A single adult ticket was 8 euros, but a family ticket, for two adults and up to two children, was 14 euros!  If they want to let children in free, then fine, but the family ticket should at least cost the same as two regular adult admissions.  So, because my boyfriend and I don’t have children, we had to pay 2 euros more than a whole family would, which I really don’t think is fair.  People shouldn’t be penalised for not having children (even though that does seem to be the trend…I notice the same thing going on with discounts for English Heritage and the National Trust).

P1120418   P1120416

Anyway, you enter the museum down a flight of stairs, which in retrospect seems a bit backwards (although we just went the way the guy working there told us to go), because I feel like the museum makes more sense if you go to the upstairs galleries first.  The downstairs part is really the artsy half of the museum, but it is pretty cool.  It’s made up of long intersecting halls (axis) that are meant to represent different aspects of Jewish life under Nazi Germany.  There’s an Axis of Continuity, Axis of Exile, and an Axis of the Holocaust.  The last one leads to the Holocaust Tower, which is a bunker-like room with only a single shaft of light coming down from the ceiling.  It really is kind of overwhelming being in there, especially because the door is really heavy and slams shut with such finality.  The axis leading up to the Tower is full of objects belonging to families who perished in the Holocaust, with a little paragraph telling their story.  The Axis of Continuity has a learning centre attached with some WWI artefacts (which I appreciated, because WWI tends to get a little lost compared to the even greater horrors of WWII, but I still find it extremely interesting), and a lot of computer modules where you can learn more about certain aspects of the Jewish faith, like keeping kosher.  The final Axis tells the story of the families that successfully emigrated before the war, and leads to the Garden of Exile, which is meant to mimic the experience of being set adrift in a foreign land.  It’s made up of a series of columns set over an uneven pavement, so that wandering around feels disorientating.  It was neat.

P1120421   P1120426

To represent the victims of the Holocaust, the museum also has “dead spaces” built into it; basically passages that lead to nowhere, or halls with nothing in them.  The largest of these is filled with metal plates in the shape of faces, all piled up on top of each other.

P1120430   P1120432

The room next to it had a robot that was copying the Torah at human speed, which was fun to watch, and a distraction from the bleakness of this opening section.  We then progressed upstairs to start exploring the main galleries, which tell the story of Judaism from its beginnings thousands of years ago, up until the present day.  At the start of it, there was a wish tree, meaning you could write down a wish and pin it to the tree, but I was too embarrassed to let other people read my wishes (which probably goes against the whole principle behind it).  Most of this first floor was geared towards Judaism in the Middle Ages (and the Early Modern period), when much of the persecution began in Europe, particularly following times of plague.  There were lots of fun interactive games and activities throughout this floor, and I found it enjoyable and educational (everything was in both German and English, and they appeared to have a range of audio guides available as well).

P1120433 P1120434

The next floor talked more about Judaism in the 19th  and early 20th century, and all the changes that happened in Germany around this time, like the First World War, and the reforms of the Weimar Republic (which were subsequently all reversed when the Nazis came to power).  It was sort of shocking to see how rapidly the rights given to Jews changed during this period, and I can well see what a horrible and confusing time it must have been to live through.

P1120435   P1120436

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as they included some more playful aspects of the modern faith, as well as some amusing stories about prominent Jewish philosophers and thinkers.  There was a quirky selection of yarmulkes in one case (apparently you could get a Friends yarmulke when the show was popular), one of those machines that transform coins into flattened out coins that was free (!), and even a vending machine selling kosher Haribo (they sub the pork gelatin with fish gelatin)!

P1120447   P1120448

Unfortunately, because these galleries were so large and full of detail, I was feeling tired by the time I got to the end of them, and kind of rushed through the last sections (which were of course about the time just before and after the Holocaust, so maybe it was good I was able to properly appreciate all the relevant installations before I started looking at this section).  Everything here was incredibly informative, and very well put-together, however, and there were enough interactive things to generally hold my attention quite well.  I was honestly very impressed with this museum, and for once, I think the admission price was a fair one (except for the fact that we had to pay 2 euros more than a family! ugh!).  I’d definitely recommend stopping by this one if you’re in Berlin, because it really is about so much more than the Holocaust, and touches on human experiences common to all of us.  I’m not Jewish, or religious in any way, but I still found it very interesting!  4/5

P1120446   P1120453

Berlin: The Ramones Museum

20140722_204438   20140722_204119

Today’s my birthday, so I’m going to celebrate with a post on a museum that I would have loved to visit a decade ago (just to remind myself how old I’m getting, jeez!).  Back in the day, in my teens and early 20s, I was a full-fledged punk rocker.  While I’ve probably still got the attitude problem (and unfortunately, the tattoos) to show for it, I no longer rock some of the more, er, colourful looks of my past (I’ve had hair in every colour of the rainbow, including a bright red spiky do, a blue mohawk, and in the most ill-advised moment of all, blonde dreadlocks.  The memory of the dreads lives on to haunt me in my passport picture, which is sadly still valid for another three years).  I also gave up on most of the music (especially that awful D-Beat crap and anything else that was pretty much just yelling over noise), though I do retain a fondness for some of the bands with actual lyrics, including the Ramones (yes, just repeating “Sheena is a punk rocker” over and over again counts as lyrics.  At least you can sing along to that!).  This is all my way of explaining why I was excited when I found out Berlin was home to the world’s only museum devoted to the Fast Four.

20140722_203508   20140722_202448

The museum was located in a bar/cafe a few streets away from our hotel, near Hackescher Markt.  You pay either 3.5 euros for admission, or 5 euros for admission plus a drink (cheap beer or fancy soda), which means that you can walk around the museum drinking a beer if you choose, in true punk style. They give you a Ramones badge as your ticket – if you manage to hang on to it you get admission for life (though I have never been able to hang onto a badge for more than a couple weeks, those stupid cheap pins always come undone and fall off).  This is less of a traditional museum and more just a collection of Ramones memorabilia, so there’s absolutely no point in visiting here unless you already know and like the Ramones (I used to read all those punk biographies back in the day, like DeeDee’s Lobotomy and Please Kill Me, so I’ve got a decent amount of Ramones trivia floating around in my cranium somewhere, even if it’s not a part of my brain I normally access).  Also, everything is in English, with absolutely no German, which is a little odd, considering the museum is in Berlin, but obviously wasn’t a problem for me.

P1120560   P1120559

With the death of Tommy Ramone just a month or so ago, all of the original Ramones are now dead, and though the museum hadn’t had time to set up anything for Tommy when I visited, there were memorial sections for all the other members that contained a mix of biographical details and photo collages.  Most of the museum just consisted of hundreds of photos plastered over every available surface, with terse yet humorous captions provided by their friend/manager Danny Fields.  There was an outfit, or some clothing anyway, from each Ramone, as well as loads of albums and other random crap.

P1120558   20140722_202444

There were also lots of lists – set lists, lists of tour stops, and lists of their catering requirements; I found the last item particularly intriguing.  Who was drinking all that fresh milk and YooHoo? (the thought of drinking milk before going on a hot stage in a leather jacket makes me feel ill).  I get why they didn’t want Soft-Baked Pepperidge Farm cookies though, those are offensively artificial (not that the traditional crunchy ones aren’t, I guess, but they taste better.  Especially Milanos, mmm).

20140722_202309   20140722_202436

A back room (which was even hotter than the rest of the place, because it was in Berlin after all, why would there be air conditioning?) showed videos – it appeared to include a mix of clips from Rock n Roll High School (which is just as terrible as you’d imagine, but pretty much required viewing for any budding punk along with The Great Rock n Roll Swindle and the dreadful Suburbia), and the story of how Joey lost Linda, the love of his life, to Johnny, who married her (which caused quite a few problems within the band, as you can imagine).

20140722_203346   20140722_202919

Appropriately enough, since it was in Berlin, much of the museum was devoted to their European tours (and how much they supposedly hated Europe, which I think was at least partially tongue-in-cheek).  I learned that Bono, of all people, was good friends with the band, and sent Joey gifts when he was dying from cancer (which I guess means Bono has done some non-douchey things in his life, though nothing will induce me to like U2).  The museum also contained a stage,where I guess you could either pretend to rock out, or just sit and have a read, since it was stocked with comfy chairs and magazines.

P1120555   20140722_202605

Obviously, since it was just a shitload of photographs, and more reminiscent of a poor man’s Rock n Roll Hall of Fame than anything else (I’m from Cleveland, and I’ve only been to the real one once because it is so damn expensive, and not at all worth the money), it wasn’t the most amazing museum I’ve ever visited, but it was nice to revisit the music of the Ramones (which was playing in the museum throughout the visit, as you’d want and expect) and some of my misspent youth.  The atmosphere was pretty chill (though not literally, it was boiling in there), and it seemed like a good place to have a drink and enjoy a walk through the history of one of the most influential bands in the history of punk.  3/5, for the nostalgia factor.

Berlin: The DDR Museum

P1120626   P1120621

I think it would have been difficult to visit Berlin and NOT go to the DDR Museum, as its advertisements are prominently displayed throughout the city.  In addition to that, it was literally right next to my hotel, so I couldn’t even use laziness as an excuse not to go.  Not that I was a particularly reluctant visitor, as the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, praising the many interactive exhibits.  I was a bit put off by the queue to get in, but naively assumed they wouldn’t let everyone in if the museum was filled to capacity.  How wrong I was.  We paid 7 euros each, and scanned our tickets in the Ampelmann barriers (he’s the little green man on crosswalk signs in Germany, and is apparently much better than green men in other countries because he is wearing a hat and shoes) for entrance…and were met with utter chaos.

P1120593   P1120596

The pictures above should give you some idea of how many people were crammed into this relatively small (only two main rooms) museum.  Clearly, the advertisements work, which is great for them, but they need to institute some kind of timed ticket system or something, because as things stand now, it is a most unenjoyable experience.  I don’t relish having to push my way through crowds of fat smelly teenagers (for real, there were some serious B.O. problems happening in there, and the cramped conditions weren’t helping matters) to look at things.  The most crowded display was a Soviet car you could climb into; there was a queue stretching half the length of the museum to get in, and these people weren’t budging.  It might have helped if they had simply climbed into the car, snapped a picture, and got out, but nope – there were middle-aged men sat in there pretending to drive for minutes at a time, I mean, really?!

P1120633   P1120636

I’ve somehow gotten halfway through this review without even telling you what the museum is about, so I should remedy that now.  It basically tells the story of life in the DDR, or East Germany, which was of course the Soviet half.  However, this was a more lighthearted perspective on the DDR than at the Stasi Museum, or the Tranenpalast, as the DDR Museum chose to focus more on the mundane drudgery of everyday life, rather than the dark side of living under communism.  Not that those subjects weren’t addressed, but they were done so in a playful way (that I supposed detracted from some of the harsh realities of life under the Soviet system), for example,  a mock interrogation room where you could have the fun of pretending to torture your friends!

P1120601   P1120604

In addition to the interrogation room, there was also re-creations of a jail cell and a typical DDR era home, where you could theoretically touch and fiddle with everything, though you couldn’t in reality as it was so crowded and there was already a crowd of people plopped on the sofa to watch Soviet television.  Another annoying feature of the museum, which would have been fine if it wasn’t so busy, was that most of the information wasn’t out in the open – the museum was set up as a series of walls covered in cabinets, and you had to open the drawers and lift the flaps to read everything, which you couldn’t do if someone was blocking the way, so it just added to the general inconvenience.  There also seemed to be some “Disneyfied” touches in there for no reason at all, other than to increase the “interactivity,” for example, a spray of mist as you walked from one room to another and some portraits of Karl Marx and Lenin (and other some other communist, Engels, maybe?) with moving eyes that followed you around the room (which was neat, I’ll grant them that, but would have felt more at home in the Haunted Mansion than a museum).

P1120613   P1120614

There were, as promised, many interactive things, but I didn’t have a chance to use most of them as the smelly teenagers already had their paws all over everything.  There was a short film, or game, or objects to look at under every one of these many flaps, but there was no way you could stand there and watch a film with a crowd of people waiting behind you, and though I did play a couple of the games, I felt like a jerk as I really had to hog the space to do so.  One was a game where I was a factory manager trying to increase productivity, and the game told me I would have been an awesome manager under the communist system (maybe that’s where I’m going wrong, work-wise), in another I had to create the ideal communist by dressing up a girl from a selection of outfits and expressions (I was trying to make her look a bit like me, which led to the game informing me I did not look like a good communist, so now I’m not sure what to think).

P1120629   P1120611

The museum did have a lot of gen-u-ine Soviet artefacts, which was pretty cool, and seemed to be really aimed at capturing quotidian affairs, so there was a lot on fashion (ugly, everyone was desperate for Levis because Soviet jeans blew), travel (you could only travel to other Soviet countries, so lots of trips to the Baltic coast, especially to Nudist resorts.  There were a LOT of nudists back then), and work.  There were also some cute whimsical touches, like puppet versions of Soviet party leaders and the little military dove shown below.

P1120608   P1120615

Everything was in German and English, and the displays I was able to look at (by pushing through the crowds) were quite interesting, so I think this could have been a very good museum if they somehow regulated their visitors (and I was there on a Wednesday morning, so it really shouldn’t have been a peak time or anything).  It is definitely quite a different approach than that taken by the Stasi Museum et al towards the DDR, and I think perhaps glosses over some of the worst parts of communism (or tries to turn them into a game, which is just as bad), but I think as long as you balance your visit to the DDR Museum with one to a more serious museum, you can still manage to get a good picture of Soviet German life.  However, I’m going to have to majorly downgrade them for not doing something to limit the flow of visitors, as it ruined my whole experience.  2.5/5, but could have easily been a 3.5 or higher with proper crowd control.

P1120631   P1120612


Berlin: The Stasi Museum

P1120409   P1120405

I’ve mentioned before how I’m not hugely interested in 20th century history (except FDR, I love FDR), but the Stasi Museum sounded intriguing – a museum on the East German secret police based in their former headquarters, with authentic preserved offices.  I read before visiting that only the main displays were in English, but that was also the case at the Criminology Museum in Rome, and that worked out ok, so I was willing to give it a go.  Since it was obviously located in the former East Berlin, the museum was in an extremely ugly area of town (I’ve heard that Karl Marx Allee, the youngest planned thoroughfare in a major European city, is within walking distance, and is bleakly imposing), though one of the nearest stations is the hilariously named Frankfurter Allee.

P1120361   P1120363

Reviews of the museum also mentioned that they gave you a cloth propaganda patch as your ticket, but after paying my 5 euros, the guy just handed me a receipt, so I guess not anymore.  However, the museum charged an extra fee if you wanted to take pictures (not sure if it’s that well-enforced, but I didn’t want to take any chances (given the venue and all) so I just paid the extra euro – the things I do for you guys!) and they gave us one of the patches as proof we’d paid that fee, so I guess that’s the way to get one (there was also a shop, but it appeared to be shut when I visited, so not sure exactly what they sell in there).  At least they didn’t charge for the toilets, unlike a lot of other museums in Berlin, but of course there was no air conditioning, which made the visit brutal, especially when we got up to the 2nd and 3rd floors. There wasn’t even any windows that opened on one side of the building (so I can kind of see why Stasi agents might have been pissy)!

P1120357   P1120391

As promised, though the walls were lined with colourful propaganda posters with no English translation, the main exhibit in each room was written in English in addition to the German (the museum was divided up in a bunch of small rooms, I’d imagine these were Stasi offices at one time as well).  A lot of the content seemed to be on all the communist organisations that were set up for the East Germans to join, like youth clubs; and the Soviet holidays they attempted to introduce (only the youth day caught on, rather than the substitutes for Christmas and Easter and such).  However, there wasn’t much background information, and the museum seemed to assume the visitor already knew all about the Stasi, including how they were formed, and the names of the main officials, which was definitely not the case for me.  Also, half the rooms on the first floor just contained an ugly chair (and a wall covered with seat cushions, so I guess we were supposed to note the different fabrics used in East Germany for some reason), and a poster with a photo and biography of various people, all in German, which I think was meant to be a tribute to those who were wrongfully imprisoned or killed by the Stasi, but it took me a good few rooms to figure this out.

P1120399   P1120393

There were also an inordinate amount of everyday objects that had been reconfigured as spy cameras on display, so I guess everyone was spying on everyone else at all times.  This did convey, more so than the actual text, some of the horrors of living under communism, and the lengths the Stasi would go through to try to police people’s lives and thoughts.

P1120369   P1120370_stitch

Because of this, I expected the preserved offices to be simultaneously utilitarian and formidable, but they turned out to be a surprisingly cozy homage to mid-century style.  I mean, this was furniture any hipster would kill to have in their living room.  It’s certainly not to my taste, but it wasn’t particularly communist looking at all; it actually looked pretty trendy for the time, unlike the dated furniture and clothing they were fobbing off on the ordinary citizen.

P1120373_stitch   P1120380_stitch

They made a big stink about Erich Mielke’s preserved office being there (I kept referring to him as Eric Milky, because I have no idea how you actually pronounce his surname), and I know he was the head of the Ministry for State Security because the museum told me, but I don’t know anything else about him other than that.  Maybe the average German has heard of him, because the lack of information was puzzling otherwise.

P1120403   P1120404

There were also some kind of crazy lifts that my boyfriend was interested in; apparently they somehow go sideways or on a circular track or something?  I dunno, they weren’t operational so I couldn’t witness them in action.  Anyway, the offices were probably the most interesting part of the museum, simply because of the chance to see the creature comforts that these leading communists surrounded them with, like a mod looking TV, and a radio with (very high-tech) Scotch tape marking the approved Soviet stations, though there was nothing to stop you from listening to Western radio if no one else was around (except of course, for the spy cameras hidden in literally everything).  Though the museum managed to get across the authoritarian leanings of the DDR, as well as the paranoia lurking under the surface of the government, and it was clear that most citizens would have had to be constantly on edge to avoid getting hauled off by the Stasi, I still would have liked to learn more about the history behind the agency, and I don’t feel that the displays were all they could have been.  3/5.

P1120465   P1120469

While we’re on the subject of East Berlin, I of course had to swing by Checkpoint Charlie for a quick photo, which was easier said than done because the place is absolutely swarming with tourists trying to do the same thing, and they also have a couple “American” guards stationed at the checkpoint who pose for pictures (for a fee) so I had to avoid them as well.  I did not go to the museum, because it cost something ridiculous like 15 euros, and all the reviews said it wasn’t that good, particularly as there is plenty of wall-stuff to see for free, like a section of the remaining wall (as seen below) and the Traenenpalast (though they’re both a fair walk away from Checkpoint Charlie).

P1120512   P1120516


Finally, this has nothing to do with anything communist, but I thought this post could use something funny at the end to lighten the mood, and I had to throw these pictures in somewhere.  We kept seeing these stupid bears all over Berlin, since “Ber” means bear in German.  Here are two of the creepiest examples (and I kind of look like a creeper too).  Enjoy!

P1120553   bearlin



Berlin, Germany: Charlottenburg Palace

P1120334   P1120335

I know I often complain on here when I feel that museums in England are poor value, but after a recent trip to Berlin, I might have to rethink some of my grievances with British museums.  I went to Munich years and years ago, when I was doing the whole backpacking thing, and I wasn’t terribly impressed, but I thought I ought to give Germany another chance, so we headed to Berlin a few weeks ago.  In retrospect, going in the middle of July was a mistake, because almost nothing was air conditioned, something I wasn’t counting on because unlike Britain, Germany gets proper summers (and even though it’s only hot in London for a few weeks, most public places are still air conditioned, even if our homes aren’t).  I completely wilt in hot conditions, and lose the will to do much of anything (as evidenced in my trip to Thailand), so making it to all the attractions I’d planned on visiting was always going to be a losing battle.  However, I did head across town with my boyfriend (on the most awful sweltering train) to see Charlottenburg Palace, which was built for Sophie Charlotte of Hanover in the late 17th century (Sophie Charlotte was the sister of George I of England, and was by all accounts an extremely intelligent and cultured woman who sadly died in her prime, at the age of 36).

P1120337   P1120341

I implied at the start that I had some complaints, so here we go.  Admission to just the palace was 12 euros, which I figured fair enough, it was comparable to other stately homes, and cheaper than most British palaces.  However, they made it seem like the gardens weren’t included in the price of admission, so we paid the extra 3 euros for a Charlottenburg+ pass, which was good for entrance to everything on the site.  After visiting the palace, we realised that the gardens surrounding it were public grounds, and we didn’t need to pay admission at all to visit them, much less a supplementary cost to our palace admission.  All the extra cost of the + pass was to gain admission to a little bonus pavilion behind the palace that we couldn’t have cared less about visiting anyway, and the mausoleum, which was fine but not worth paying to see.  So be aware that unless you want to see some extra art, the base 12 euro ticket will suffice.  Another thing that riled me up was the fact that they charged 50 cents to use the toilet.  I understand why they might charge for the toilets in the gardens, since they’re open to the public, but the only way you could access the toilets in the palace was if you paid admission, and if I pay 15 euros for something, I at least want to be able to use the bathroom free of charge.  They also charged extra for information sheets (I mean, basic single sheets of paper that would be free to just stand there and read and then return in any other museum), and it was another 3 euros if you wanted to take pictures in the palace, which is why all of mine are of the grounds.  I understand that the palace is probably enormously expensive to run, but if that’s the case, then just tack an extra euro onto the admission fee, don’t charge people to use the loo!  It just felt really money-grubbing and made me instantly resent the place.

P1120339   P1120347

They offer a free tour, but only in German, so everyone else is dependent on the audio guide, which surprisingly was free of charge (given that they charged for everything else).  It actually wasn’t that bad, as it had a fast-forward feature and most of the recordings were relatively short, so that you could hear all of it in the time it took to look at a room.  That said, though I have awesome retention when I read something, I suck at remembering things I’ve only heard, so most of the history of the palace completely escapes me.  My overriding memory is of room after room filled with portraits of bewigged men sporting hilarious “Dirty Sanchez” style mustaches that looked like they’d been Sharpied in over the painting as an afterthought.  And some portraits of Sophie Charlotte herself, and her husband, Frederick I of Prussia.  Whilst the palace was once home to the famed “Amber Room,” which was covered entirely with amber (obviously), it was given as a gift to Peter the Great of Russia (along with all Frederik Rusych’s finest specimens…man, I wish I could travel back in time just to see Peter’s baller collections), and “lost” after the Nazis stole it during WWII.  The most famous remaining room is therefore the Porcelain Cabinet, which certainly has the most porcelain I’ve ever seen adorning the walls of a room – it was built to hold Sophie Charlotte’s collection, but she died before it was finished.  There was also a small chapel inside the palace, with a pipe organ, and lots of rooms named after the colour of their panelling, which was usually some kind of ostentatious velvety looking number that certainly didn’t cool the place down any.

P1120349   P1120348

There were two floors inside the palace (though the audio guide kindly gave me the option of only seeing one floor and then leaving, I guess in case I couldn’t bear the temperature inside the palace anymore, or really needed a pee but didn’t have any change), and the upstairs was set up more like a museum rather than as a reconstruction like the downstairs rooms.  I did like how when I was looking through some of the showcase rooms, the audio guide told me that they wouldn’t describe the pieces to me because then I’d linger in there too long and block everyone’s way, so they would just play some classical music for my enjoyment as I looked at the collections (I wish the English Heritage audio guides were so thoughtful and advised visitors to be considerate of other people trying to look at stuff…I’m looking at you, woman blocking the Horn Room at Osborne House).  My favourite display in this section was a set of china that Frederick requested be decorated with “exotic animals,” so he ended up with a monkey and then a bunch of imaginary creatures.  You could also see some of the Royal Jewels, though as the selection was limited to jewelboxes and one pair of diamond earrings, it was ultimately not that impressive.

P1120340   P1120343

We were already pretty tired when we left the palace, because of the heat and all, but since we stupidly paid extra to see ALL the buildings, we felt like we should at least check them out.  The New Pavilion was directly behind the palace, and as I said earlier, is home to an art collection.  I cringed a little when the man inside offered us the use of another audio guide, because I felt it would be rude to turn it down, but I could not bear the thought of listening to another full audio tour.  So I took one, then fast-forwarded through most of it, but from what I heard, the guy voicing this one (which was entirely different from the one in the palace, which was split between a different man and a woman) sounded like the Crypt Keeper or Igor or something.  He had this really creepy monotone voice, which amused me, but wasn’t conducive to learning about art.  I gave all the paintings the most cursory of glances, and then thought it would be best to find the mausoleum, which was obviously more up my alley.  After wandering for a bit through the gardens (which had rather nice flowers and a fountain), I spotted a rock pointing to the mausoleum, which turned out to be about four times the size of any mausoleum I’d ever seen (when we spotted it in the distance, I couldn’t believe that was it).  The inside held stone effigies of four of the Hohenzollerns buried in there, and felt nicely chilled because of all the marble.  In fact, that’s probably the only thing that made the extra admission even sort of worth it, the delightfully cool temperature inside.

P1120344   P1120345

After walking back through more of the gardens, I was ready to leave because the heat was just unbearable (I was hoping they’d have a stand that sold ice creams and maybe pretzels, like this one palace we went to in Vienna where I had the biggest and most delicious pretzel of my life, but no such luck), so we called it a day and headed back to the station, even though we never found the Gazebo, which was also included in the Charlottenburg+ pass.  I still don’t know an enormous amount about the Prussians or House of Hanover (at least, the branch of the family that never made it over to Britain), as the audio guide mainly covered things like the furnishings and the layout of the palace.  Even though it is the largest palace in Berlin, I’m not sure it was worth going to the outskirts of the city for.  Those little extra charges just really got on my nerves, and other than the Porcelain Cabinet, and Sophie Charlotte herself, there was nothing particularly remarkable about Charlottenburg.  2.5/5 is a fair score, I think.