A friend of mine works for the Liberal Party in the German Parliament, and he took me on a tour the other day
'Liberal' in Europe basically means libertarian. Personal responsibility, low taxes, etc.
According to him, the Liberal Party is both the gayest and the most man-tractive of the ruling parties. I find neither of these things surprising.
It was great to have an insider give me a tour. We were both startled at my total ignorance of the political structures of the country I live in.
This is an exhibit showing the names of all the former MPs.
The black box represents the period of 1933 - 1945. I felt weird saying the word 'Hitler' out loud in the Parliament, so we both used 'Voldemort'.
There's a system of tunnels under all the parliamentary buildings. This corridor is apparently where you're most likely to bump into Angela Merkel.
Like she's the warmech from Final Fantasy and shit.
This is where they eat lunch! I would pass hella laws if this was my cafeteria.
The parliament offices are on both sides of the river, connected by a sexy skybridge.
In the distance you can see the Chancellery, where the executive branch sits. We weren't allowed in there because separation of powers. Also, it's hella far and I was wearing dress shoes.
Conference rooms are the Starbucks of parliaments.
I AM INTEGRATING
It looks hella cold out there. I'm sure Merkel has a personal Segway for all the tunnels.
It's 5pm, and the cleaning ladies are already tidying up. I don't know what to conclude about the German work ethic from this.
The view from the skybridge! The building in the foreground is the parliament's daycare. It's only open to the children of MPs.
The whole vibe is just overwhelmingly posh. There are Mercedeses waiting everywhere to take MPs home from the office.
Even the art is cost-inefficient.
But I'm not a libertarian, so I don't really mind my tax dollars being spent on this kind of silliness.
I love how one of them just says 'Poland'. Eastern Europeans don't get names!
The Library of Congress! There's apparently a robotic book-fetching service, so there's no shelves. This was like the 30th time I resisted the urge to blurt out 'it's so fucking German!'
... This was the 31st.
So we finally made it to the Bundestag. You're not even allowed in unless you're an MP.
The doors are marked 'yes', 'no' and 'abstain'. This is apparently how they vote when they need a precise count. All the MPs leave, then re-enter through the door of their vote. It's called 'Sheep-hopping'. Seriously.
Every building in the world should have a miniature version of itself in the lobby with little movable figures.
The prayer room has removable religious symbols, so it can be Christian at 9:00, Jewish at 9:15 and Muslim at 9:30. This concept offends all religions equally.
So when they rebuild the Reichstag after being bombed and invaded, they preserved some of the walls. This graffiti, for example, reads 'we love your cafeteria'.
Wait, she's a doctor?!
My friend patiently described that, yes, Merkel was a physicist, and not involved in politics, before reunification.
I've texted her to ask for details. I'll report back.
Each of the ruling parties basically gets a tower to conduct its meetings. That dude down there is an MP cigaretting after a party meeting to decide strategy.
I feel like 'cupola' should be a more universally acknowledged synonym for breasts.
The Brandenburg Gate! Tourists looking at tourists!
This giant aluminum thing is a shade that rotates to block the sun, and keeps the cupola from getting hot flashes.
And ... we're out! After two hours, I may not know all the political clockworks of my new country, but at least I know where it orders lunch.