We wake to a sleepy Berlin after Christmas. Everything remains closed. Dead soldiers strewn the streets:
So we head back to Museum Island. Yesterday’s festivities included altars and gates from Pergamon, Miletus, and Babylon (see post). Today, sculpture and Egypt:
First we get distracted by gladiator armor, Trojan replicas, and, well, *ahem* a Babylonian hat that is clearly not over-compensating for anything:
It was the Hummer H3 of its day.
We pass room after room of adorable owls, sarcophagi, adorable goats, wax tablets, and the most adorable of all: Adorable Hippos!!!
But really, one comes to Museum Island for one thing in the Armana collection: the bust of Nefertiti.
Photos are verboten. So I wait. The crowd breaks. I get right up to her, hold, and draw her:
Up close, she looks older, more world worn than I expected. Nerftiti may be idealized, stunning, completely at the height of her powers, but like a present Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, or later Bacall, it took much to get there. Nevertheless, 3,400 years have hardly aged her.
My wife already left me for the Greek and Roman collection. Oddly, German collectors had a passion for playful sculptures, such as the girl tossing knuckle-bone dice: The silverware collection and countless sculptures are really impressive. But, I decide to saddle up to a dark greek basanite Julius Caesar and capture him (along with Nerfertiti’s mother in law, Tiye).
Both faces cut from dark stone give an odd impression. This is a leap, but they remind me of Germany’s strangest lager: rauchbier, aka smoked beer:
It may be a smooth, relatively light, lagered beer like pilsner, but the barley is completely smoked.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, beer, Märzen, Bamberg, Germany.
APPEARANCE: looks clear, yet a medium plus ruby brown, with minor fizz, thin cream color head. AROMAS: smell pronounced of peat smoke, vanilla, and bacon. PALATE: feels dry, moderately tart, more bitter, with medium alcohol 5.1%, leading to a medium plus body. FLAVORS: are equally showy yet clean, tasting of peat smoke, coals, rye bread, honey, and bacon that lasts for a long length. Outstanding (5 of 5).
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is winter in front of the fireplace. Intense, single minded, like a hungover old Sean Connery, like a war-wearied Caesar, machinating Tiye, or powerful Nefertiti. After our 158 straight days of travel, I can relate.
But no rest for the wicked. The next day finds us at Museum Island’s final wing: running from Medieval to 19th century. It seems such a fantastic mess, watching artists struggle through centuries attempting to capture the divine and human in every media. But even the audio guide tires and we leave.
Berlin still glows with its strange grey light. So our aching feet carry us to one last museum.
With jello for brains, the only learning-ish thing we can handle is dinosaurs! And not just any dino, but the world’s tallest! Meet all 43ft 6in of Mr. Brachiosaurus Brancai:
We have one last day in Berlin before we jet to family friends in Holland. Check back next for next Monday’s installment of our EU Austerity Drinking Tour (more drinking to come…promise!).
Perfect aging of Nefertiti – 5 out of 5 – making a note of this one!