Berlin boasts a wonderful combination of museums to capture your imagination and street musicians to make you smile along the way. While walking from the train station to Museum Island, we passed this cheerful woman playing her accordion. To me, accordion music is quintessentially European (When is the last time you heard a street musician playing an accordion in New York or Chicago?). I love it, and I wasn’t the only member of my party who was enchanted. Half Pint, my smallest travel companion, couldn’t help himself. First he waved shyly, then his little feet started to tap, and before long he was full out dancing along to the accordion music. The already cheerful musician threw her head back and laughed. It was delightful.
Where upbeat accordion music made me smile, the violin strains which followed stopped me – quite literally – right in my tracks. As we walked across the bridge over the Spree River and onto Museum Island, we were beckoned with achingly beautiful music. Half Pint turned an ear toward the music, took the ever-present thumb out of his mouth, and froze. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one captivated by the sound. When we came upon the violinist, we joined a small crowd and sat to listen for a while. The music was so beautiful, I am convinced that the musician is a book character waiting to be written. Perhaps he played first chair violin with the Berlin Philharmonic until a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he plays soulful music near the riverbank, where he first met her. (While I made that up, of course, it wouldn’t surprise me!)
The museums themselves were predictably engaging. While I was particularly taken by the intimate scale of the Bode Museum (pictured above), my pint-size travel companions were more impressed by the special exhibit of Rembrandt’s animal sculptures on display at Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin. We spent a good long while examining all manner and size of three-dimensional birds, dogs, and livestock. Walking back to the train station after a long, full day, one of my travel companions declared, “I would like to make sculptures like that Rembrandt guy, but of different things, like musical instruments!” This got me thinking…
On an earlier Aldi shopping trip, I took notice of how marzipan is quite inexpensive in Germany. At my first opportunity, I picked up a little package and put my small sculptors to work! Half Pint declared the marzipan “too sticky” and toddled away. Almost Pint happily sculpted a rainbow, a bug, and a ukulele – all open to significant artistic interpretation. Full Pint (who, if I must be honest, is approaching Quart Size) humored me with a marzipan electric guitar and amplifier, shown below.
While sculpting with marzipan was whimsical fun, it did serve to cement the Berlin music-and-museum experience in little minds. Among our many European adventures, I hope this will be a day they remember.