Berlin – Day 7

Our days in Berlin have a routine now: we walk to breakfast in the neighboring building, where the students eat quickly and then impatiently and drowsily wait for the faculty to finish their leisurely and cultured meal. Blithely indifferent to the students’ suffering, the faculty are ready only after multiple cups of coffee.

Today’s journey was even more routine: we once again took the subway to Alexanderplatz and walked to the Museumsinsel. The Neues Museum’s world-famous collection of Egyptian antiquities – along with pieces from throughout the ancient world – was our main activity for the morning.

Before the Museum, though, souvenir shopping! And while Berlin’s most common symbol is the omnipresent bear, Pace students are a little different:

Instead of one picture of the unphotographable Bust of Nefertiti, displayed hyperdramatically in its own room, we have the Gold Hat, a cultic symbol hammered with esoteric astronomical encodings and equally artfully displayed:

Context-free Egyptmania:

Our wanderings through the collection were not without background. Mr Hornor demystifying the works before us:

A cheap lunch in the Friedrichstrasse subway station, accompanied by thousands of our new German friends, was next. The many hours of data-packed lecturing by Mr Hornor had by this point overwhelmed the brains of many of the students: how else to explain the ice cream desserts on a day where the high temperature was below freezing?

Next up: the Topography of Terror, a large exhibit space next to the former Luftwaffe headquarters (now a Finance Ministry building) and along a largely untouched stretch of the Berlin Wall. In many informative panels and hundreds of pictures, the display outlines the Nazi era, from 1933 through the war and beyond.

Secret police cells, the Wall, and the Luftwaffe building:


After walking past the site of Hitler’s Bunker, we took the subway back to the hostel and spent a productive hour doing homework. The group, having had their fill of schnitzel and sausage over the last week, then walked to a restaurant-filled part of our Kreuzberg neighborhood and ate at a local Italian restaurant.

Pizzas and pastas for all:

Tomorrow: Potsdam!

Berlin – Day 6

Despite its mystifying lack of Nutella and, according to one student, ‘normal’ cereals, breakfast at the hostel warmed up and revived the group for a varied day of activities. Jumping on the U-Bahn like locals rushing to work, we headed to the very drab, 70s stylings of Alexanderplatz, drawing interesting contrasts to yesterday’s walk through the more dynamically modern Potsdamer Platz.

on the U-Bahn:

From there, we headed to the Berliner Dom, touring its massive interior and subterranean crypts.

Dom, Exterior:

Dom, Interior:

A short walk placed us at the endlessly under renovation Pergamon Museum on Berlin’s famed Museum Island. While the Pergamon Altar’s room itself remained off limits, many amazing sights remained open to our tour and Mr Hornor’s explications.

The Ishtar Gate:

The Market Gate of Miletus:


Outside the unvisited but adjacent Bode Museum (we’ll visit the Neues Museum tomorrow):

Leaving Museum Island, we walked to Berlin’s Neue Synagogue:

Lunches high above the city in the food halls of KaDeWe, Berlin’s Harrods-ish department store, followed by perhaps extravagant shopping were next on the agenda. Advertising their American-ness even more by toting matching KaDeWe bags, the group took the train back to the hostel to rest and prepare for dinner. Mr Hornor’s Berlin-based cousin took the group to a cozy and very delicious dinner at Pratergarten in his home neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg in south Berlin.

Restaurant, badly lighted:

Tomorrow: the Neues Museum, the Topography of Terror, and more!

Berlin – Day 5

His Benevolence Mr Hornor allowing an 8:30 breakfast time, the students awoke refreshed and ready to tackle a walking tour of central Berlin. Unfortunately, instead of strolling through the typically scenic snow and steady cold, we slogged across town in a constant, numbing drizzle. Making our way up Stressemanstrasse, we reached the hyper-busy crossroads of Potsdamer Platz.

The students at remnant slabs of the Berlin Wall:

Across from the massive Tiergarten, we toured the evocative and moving Holocaust Memorial:

The iconic Brandenburg Gate, the silhouette of which is seen everywhere from subway cars to cheap souvenir shops:

Mr Hornor detailing the history of the squat and imposing Reichstag, looming out of shot to the right:

Escaping the rain, the group enjoyed a leisurely lunch of hot chocolates for some and hearty fare for all. Whether through telepathy, keen psychological insight or straight-up witchery, one student shocked and shook the others with feats of mental dexterity while we waited for our food.

Through still-sprinkling rain, we made our way next to Checkpoint Charlie, the former American connection between East and West Berlin.

Entering the American sector, with, almost too perfectly, McDonald’s and Starbucks in the background:

Blithely taking up the entire sidewalk on our trek through the city:

We next returned to our hostel to prepare for a group meal at a nearby Greek restaurant before taking the U-Bahn to the Philharmonie for a performance of selections from Ravel and Mussorgsky. Seeing such technically proficient yet emotive playing in an architecturally dramatic space was a profound experience for all.

Dining in fancy dress:

Surreptitiously taken shot of the interior of the hall:

Shadowy crowd outside the hall:


Munich/Berlin – Day 4

An early typically European breakfast in our hostel fortified the group for a full morning of walking. A 20-minute train ride placed us at Dachau, site of the first concentration camp.

Waiting for our train:

Mr Hornor led the group on a several-hour tour of the exhibition halls, a reconstructed barracks, religious memorials and the crematoria. The mood among the students was understandably somber and thoughtful.

Orienting ourselves at the beginning of the tour:

Parade grounds and barracks:

Camp scene painted by a prisoner:

More group discussion:

View down cell-lined corridor:

Monument near the crematoria:

After returning from the camp, we got our massive and unwieldy suitcases out of storage and headed to the next door Hauptbahnhof to grab some last Bavarian pastries and sandwiches before boarding a super-fast train to Berlin. The names of those students who chose to eat at Subway and Starbucks have been redacted. After wrangling suitcases into the train, the students got to work on assignments for their classes. Their productivity was impressive!

Hard-working Pace students:

Arriving into the Berlin Hauptbahnhof around 9 pm, we still had to negotiate several subway lines before arriving at our hostel, a converted bishop’s residence in the heart of the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Time for sleep – tomorrow promises miles of walking, probably in freezing rain and snow. Wunderbar!

Munich: Day 3

After a late night of cramped viewing of the Alabama-Georgia game on phones and laptops, a fully sleepy and mostly cranky crew (except for one student and one faculty member with Alabama allegiances) met for a leisurely hostel breakfast.  Much sustenance would be required for one of Mr Hornor’s famous Munich marches: ten miles and thousands of years would be covered by the end of the day!

Tracing our now well-traveled steps through the city center, we arrived again at the Marienplatz, where our walking tour through historical Munich began in full.

The Odeonplatz, with Mr Hornor helping students navigate Bavarian history from the Napoleonic Wars to World War II:

A short walk away was the Konigsplatz, with its imposing Propylaen and paired museums of Greek and Roman art.

The Propylaen:

We toured the amazing collection of the Antikensammlungen: Greek pottery of all types, described in loving and awed detail by Mr Hornor.

A selection from the collection:

More walking in an unseasonably mild Munich took us to the Alte Pinakothek and its unequaled collection of old masters: Titian, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Murillo, Botticelli, Raphael, Brueghel and many others. Given the scale of the collection, Mr Hornor concentrated, though, on a handful of works by, especially, Durer, El Greco, and Rubens.

Mr Hornor and the Portable AP Art History:

One more stop before lunch: Sophie Scholl Platz, in the heart of the university district, dedicated to the memory of Sophie Scholl, a teenage student and anti-war dissident during World War II, executed for speaking out against the war.

Our students, no younger than she, near her memorial:

Lunch in a local university cafe refreshed everyone for more walking: this time we strolled with locals and their dogs through the massive English Gardens, nearly 1000 acres of fields, streams, trails and trees in the heart of Munich.

The Gardens with a folly in the distance:

Back in the city center, we visited the outdoor Viktuallenmarkt as the sun began to set. Here, rows of stalls sold only olives, or honey, or cheese, or bread, or produce, or almost any food one could wish for.

The maypole in the center of the market:

Lengthening shadows as we wound our way home: