It looked pretty easy, catch a train four stations west, jump on the U6 for about eight stations and get off at 'Zinnowitzer Straße'…no problem. The trains in Berlin are a little weird. It’s not that they aren’t neat and clean (which they are), it’s that many seem to be from a 40’s or 50’s film noir. There’s little of that universal stainless steel and moulded plastic, easy to clean, impossible to damage, fittings that most major city trains have these days. These were old style carriages with wood panelling.
After a short journey it was off the train, up the stairs, out the station and, with a quick hop to the left, I found myself standing at the steps of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. The first thing I noticed about the museum as I approached its grand, front stairs was the patched repairs across the buildings face. These are obviously covering the scars of a war fought over 60 years ago- and the museum is by no means the only building in Berlin to so visibly wear its wounds in such a startling fashion, its just the one I was the most shocked to find them on. I guess when the Russians are flooding the city any sturdy building will do to make a last stand!
The second thing I noticed about the museum was the door was locked…well, that’s not entirely true. I actually noticed a lovely old gentleman who began speaking to me in German- a language the only words I know being from reading war comics when I was a kid. As I didn’t think it would be polite to yell ‘ACTHUNG, SCHWEIN-HUND’ at him in the middle of the street, I smiled and said ‘SORRY, DAST SPREAKEN ZEE ENGLISH!’ I always find its best to talk in English while badly mimicking the language you’re trying to converse in as loud as possible. It seems to do the trick every time.
‘Oh, you’re Australian…’ said the clearly English gentleman, ‘…I hate to tell you old boy but the museum is closed today. The sign says it’s always closed on Mondays.’
The man had been born in Hamburg where he’d recently retired too, and had travelled to Berlin to see the dinosaurs he’d known in his youth. After a quick chat, were the gentleman told me he was keen to see if the dinosaurs were really as big as they were in his childhood memories, we parted, with me giving him a friendly wink that we’d probably meet again tomorrow. Disappointed, I headed back into the city to find a cold drink as the summer heat was becoming pretty ferocious, even for an Australian.