Friday, 18 April 2008

Ich möchte ein Bankkonto eröffnen bitte

Today we had an appointment at 10am with Deutsche Bank at their imposing branch on Unter Den Linden. We need a German bank account to pay for the services of people like our personnel surveyor, for the house sale, for paying the utilities companies when we move, and ultimately to pay our wages into when we get a job. If the pound continues its free-fall descent into Euro parity, it would also be prudent to convert our money from the house sale into Euros asap before all we can afford is an allotment shed (in a 'Schrebergarten' - these conspiculously ring Berlin when seen from an S-Bahn window, and what a wonderful institution! Food sustainability, a recreational retreat, and a lung for the city. Wouldn't want to live on one though).

The nice woman at the bank spoke very good English (though she was at a loss for describing where we worked: a local government council. We settled on 'Bezirkamt'). All we needed was our passport and a Council Tax statement to prove our home address. And there we are, we now have an online German bank account. It feels like we are almost German citizens at last!

Now we felt more like Germans, we popped over the road to the Deutsches Historiche Museum.
This is five euros well spent; you could spend a day here, and if you do I'd recommend seeing half the museum up to the 1918's onward wing, have dinner in the restaurant (not cheap but a stunning dining space), then see Germany's recent history. The collection is certainly comprehensive, from the Celts through the Roman Empire, Gothic migration, The Franks, Charlemagne and the Carolingian empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the rise of Prussia and Bavaria, the Reformation, the Thirty Years war, the German Confederation, Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, oh and so on and so on. It was also interesting seeing a non-Anglo-centric take on history'; for example, it wan't necessarily Wellington who defeated Napolean at Waterloo, it was more down to Prussia's General Blücher. Also interesting was seeing an engraving taken from a painting in Derby Art Gallery by local lad (to here) Joseph Wright of Derby. Funny how he turns up everywhere: I remember the frisson seeing one of his works in Le Louvre, Paris.

The recent history exhibitions were fascinating, and because they deal with the rise of Nazism, emotionally engaging in a scarey way.
In fact, rather than learning about the German people
welcoming Herr Hitler into leading the Third Reich, it was enlightening to see exhibits about
the opposition in Germany to his abhorrent fascistic ideas.
I think it is rather brave to have exhibits of Nazi memorabilia in a Berlin museum, and I wonder how much they have to notch up the security to protect them against neo-Nazis acquiring them for their personal mastibatory fantasies.
Oh, did you gather I think fascism is the most evil idea ever dreamt up by
insane monsters ever? Well there you go, I show my cards. Big surprise.

The modern history exhibits go on to depict life in Communist DDR, but whilst interesting, the DDR Museum by the Spree does it so much better and comprehensively.
One eye-opener though was the East German counterpart of the IBM PC.
Who would have thunked it? I wonder if it could run Linux?

A visit to Dussmann's bookstore and record shop (one of the largest in Berlin) and then Spätzle and Apfelstrude in a restaurant under the Fernsehturm bided our time pleasently until we had to fly back in the evening.

The flight back by Ryanair was not so good; the pilot spoke over the speaker-system and sounded incomprehensible, indeed almost like he was drunk. A very bumpy landing and then the plane had to sit on the tarmac for ages as a bus to the terminal was arranged. Then they could only take passengers out from the front doors (we were in the back), and meanwhile it was getting hotter and hotter and the air denuded of oxygen.

Finally we arrived back in Matlock about 2am. Ah, nice to see the cats again. Did you miss us? MIAOW!

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