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Odyssey to Europe

Essay 19: The Final Day

Today, the two of us woke up with heavy hearts, as our Europe Trip was coming to an end, with our last day in Berlin. As such, we woke up earlier than usual, as to make our last day as fun and exciting as possible. Immediately after we had eaten our breakfast, we headed towards the Markisches Museum, which was only a several minutes walk from our hotel. The museum told about Berlin history, just like the German museum, only it told the history of the daily life in Berlin. Inside, we bought our tickets to the museum, and entered. The museum staff spoke little to none English, so it was relatively tough communicating with them, but my dad still managed communicate with them. As soon as we entered the museum, we emerged in a large chapel like building, with tall roofs and clean white walls. Ancient statues decorated the floor, glaring at us with stone cold eyes. There were only a few statues for us to gawk at, so we quickly moved on, into the first floor exhibits. The first floor told a rudimentary tale of Berlins history, from prehistoric to early modern times. It told the tale through several hands-on exhibits, models, and ancient relics. Ancient animals would crowd one room, staring at you with dead eyes, while a model of Berlin would be placed in the next, taking up most of the room. There were several interesting quirks as well, such as a room filled with torture equipment, a room filled with childrens toys, and a replica of a medieval classroom. The bottom of the museum was relatively uneventful, with interesting but seen-before exhibits. However, the real jewel of the museum was located on the upper floor, which I found much more interesting than the first floor.

Exhibits from the museum. The second floor was crammed with extremely interesting and different things that we had not seen before. Instruments, machines, armor, and pictures crowd each room, depicting a different aspect of Berlin life, war, and entertainment. The diversity of the exhibits was astounding; not only was there a very broad range of subjects covered, the exhibits themselves were different. A room filled with pictures might sit next to a dark colored room with gilded armor, while a reconstruction of a shop is adjacent from a large interior of a church. The second floor was so much bigger than the first floor. We would walk through a dozen or so rooms, only to discover that there was another wing that contained even more rooms. The rooms ranged from a reproduction of a barber shop, to a room crowded with medieval armor. The two of us walked through the myriad of exhibits, gazing with wonder at one exhibit, only to quickly run to the next. Surprisingly, we saw no other tourists inside the museum, which was odd. It was a shame that this entertaining museum received little to no attention. My favorite place was a small room filled with mechanical instruments; not only phonographs, but many other older and daintier machines that had to be cranked, pushed, or tread on to start. Many of the instruments were covered in paintings, or gilded in gold. Some were even engraved with letters, like The Original! There was an old man inside the room tending to the machines, who told us that at 3:00 every day, there would be a showcasing of the instruments. Because we had to leave at 3:30 for the airport, that was cutting it very fine, but we said we would be there. By this time, it was close to checkout time, so we left the museum, intending to return for the concert. After exiting, we returned to the hotel to check out, and then took the metro to Alexanderplatz.

Alexanderplatz is a massive and spacious plaza, with performers, street vendors, and shops all around the plaza. Several large fountains decorate the plaza, while comedians and performers entertain the masses of people visiting here. A market is located at the far end of the plaza, and contains a variety of products for sale. The two of us stopped by at a Starbucks, bought several drinks, and then sipped them while watching the people in the busy and noisy plaza go on with their day. Sitting on the chairs, we planned our next destination. Eventually, we decided to go to Checkpoint Charlie, the third checkpoint between the Allied and Soviet borders in Berlin. It was only a brief ride from the subway, so we reached the checkpoint in no time. The checkpoint was at the far end of a fake Berlin wall, which was adorned with pictures, and paragraphs of text describing the circumstances behind the creation of the wall, and the circumstances that led to the tearing down of the wall. At the end of the fake wall, the original sign at the checkpoint, with the You are now leaving US territory still stands, with the booth next to it. Neither of us was sure if the booth was original or not, as the booth was originally suspended in the air, while this one was firmly planted on the ground.

The checkpoint. There was also a museum along with the checkpoint, but as it was almost 3, we had to forgo the museum tour. After taking one last look at the checkpoint and the informational wall, we left Checkpoint Charlie, to the museum for our last event in Europe. The two of us returned to the Markisches Museum promptly at 3 oclock, and took a seat amongst the small crowd gathering around the room. After a little while of waiting, the same old man we had met before came into the room, and began the concert. He first began describing each of the instruments in german, so we couldnt understand it. But, after about 15 minutes of that, he began to work some of the mechanical instruments,

filling the room with sound. Each machine creates a different song, and sounds different from a regular instrument, in the sense that it is more cheery and has a different feeling to it. The piping whistles and ringing bells has a sense of joy to it, while the novelty of these instruments adds to the atmosphere of the room.

Several of the instruments. There are multiple ways to start the instruments. You have to crank, wind up, or spin a lever of crank. For the phonograph and the older carnation of it, they are automatic, and are simply recordings. For others, the sound is produced in the room, by a small band playing a preset tune. There was even a massive organ, who blasted the room with loud but boisterous music. Sadly, we were not able to finish the concert, as our flight to China beckoned. Reluctantly, we returned to the hotel to pick up our bags, and then stepped outside in the pouring rain. Originally, we planned to travel by bus to the airport, but after seeing the downpour, my dad changed it to a taxi. At the airport, both of us settled down, checked in, and ate some dinner. I mentally went through the cities, and their high points. Paris, with the beautiful Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, and Chauteu de Versailles. Mardrid, with the imperial palace, and the absolutely amazing buffet. Barcelona; the Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum. Rome, the Coliseum, Roman Forums, the spaghetti, and the numerous museum. Florence, with its amazing Villa, and the statue of David. Venice, with its charming and quiet back alleys and canals. Vienna, the Opera, and Mozarts residence. Budapest; the different style of architecture, and the steamy, relaxing baths. Pragues castle church and the Old Town Square were undeniably beautiful. Finally, Berlin, with the Markiches Museum, chocolate shop, and the German Museum. We did travel to a lot of places, didnt we? At first, I felt saddened that our trip was over, but I then reflected on all that we had seen, and decided that it was useless to cling to the past; only prepare for the future.

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