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Museum "Island"

Is an area that has rivers on both sides, so they call it an island. In a small space, it has five large museums, and I managed to go to all of them today. Even though it was close by, I managed to get myself lost on the way there, but asked a few people who pointed me in the right direction and I eventually found my way. One was a construction worker and he said, "only a little English." and then gestured back in the direction I came from and made a curving motion to the left. It was good enough to get me there.

They were the Neue Museum, the Altes Museum, the Altes National Galerie, the Pergamom, the Bode Musuem.

The first one I went to was the Altes National Galerie and it had thousands of objects that were from the stone age, the bronze age, skeletons from many thousands of years ago, tools, rings, cooking devices, you name it. One thing that struck me was that people have not changed that much in 15,000 years. People still want nice things that add beauty and convenience to their day.

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Also the famous Queen Nefertiti bust, somehow magically preserved for thousands of years.

One security guard saw me coming from 20 yards away and said, "English?" I said, yeah, and he was very excited to practice his conversational english skills on me and told me all about the layout of the museum, how to find the stairs to the second level (even though I had not asked for directions for once), about how Cleopatra died from a snake bite, the history of his family and how the eye color skips a generation, and so on.

Around lunch time I found a shady spot and munched on my mixed nuts and dried fruit that I brought with me. I also drank three-quarters of my bottle of water in a single long gulp. Some stranger woman, who did not look like a beggar, walked up to me and pointed at my water bottle. "Can I have?" she asked. It was very hot and humid, and I was feeling pretty tired and dehydrated. I said, "I only have a little." and gestured with my fingers a small amount. She pointed again looking at it and I said, "sorry." And she walked away. I don't know why this was disturbing to me. In retrospect I feel like I should have just given it to her. But it was my water and I was thirsty and hot too. She really needed to present her case a little better. I thought, she could have easily gone inside any of the museums or at a little concession stand and gotten water. But then I realized, so could I.

The Pergamom had this ancient gate that was rebuilt from somewhere in the middle within the museum. It was made of beautiful blue tiles and depicted lions and dragons and other things. But even in the midst of some of the most amazing creations humanity has to offer, nothing can compete with the attention death-grip of the smart phone.

There is a syndrome that is common in Museums. Art Fatigue. First symptoms include sore feet and back and the need to sit down. But as symptoms develop it there is a desire to go quickly though the museum to see everything. Then, vision is blurred and loss of sense of direction, and de ja vu and memory loss simultaneously ("Oh that's cool, wait, I've seen this room already, or have I? I better look at it again, or for the first time, or something..."). The final stage of the disease is where everything looks like art. The room that is blocked off that has a bunch of junk and chairs stacked up? Art. The hallway leading to the exit? Art. The empty glass case that doesn't have any art in it? Art. The watch your step sign? Art. Some people actually started laughing at me wonder what craziness I was photographing when the bust of Cleopatra or a intricate Persian carpet was behind me.

Some of my favorite stuff from today was an ancient horn from the Bronze Age.

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The best paintings were hands down by Casper Friedrich. They all had a subtle mystery that I loved. But when I saw a book and reprints of his stuff in the bookstore, I was like, "What, that is nothing like what I just saw." The work had a presence. It was magical and captivating and the colors were somehow subtle and vibrant at the same time. But the book just didn't do it justice.

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There was also a weird golden hat that could not be photographed because it was in an almost pitch black room and the iPhone camera wouldn't focus. But it was one of only four golden hats of its kind known to exist. They know quite a lot about its unique construction and how a seamless conoid cap came into existence. But no one knows why this hat exists. It had celestial symbols carved around it and was super old but other than that not much is known. I had an interesting thought that the hat was worn by people with extremely special astrologoical charts. Or by the experts in reading the astrology.

I came back to the room and took a nap, and then Ganesh came back from work and we went out for an evening boat tour. The best thing about the boat tour is the wide variety of architecture. Because this is a very old city, there are a lot of old buildings and churches, but because it was almost completely destroyed, it was also almost completely rebuilt, and because this is a big artistic hub, there is a lot of really impressive architecture and fascinating designs.

The other thing that was fascinating was the miles and miles of people just relaxed and chilling all over the place. Groups gathered along side the canal reading, eating snacks with beer or wine, reading, talking, and generally just enjoying life for no other reason. This is a non-holiday week day. I wondered, "How are these people not more busy?"  This is not a rhetorical question.

Then went out for dinner at a place called Peter Pane that was decorated really fun with cool curved pieces of wood lining the ceiling like a thick abstract nest. Once again, cool architecture. I had a Cheeseburger that was super cheesy, like, four cheeses cheesy. Like, every-bite-I-take-more-of-it-squeezes-out-from-the-back cheesy. I'm talkin' molten. The beast could not be contained.


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