Friday, June 17, 2011

Berlin, Germany (Jun 15 - 16)

After much difficulty getting out of Belgium, mainly I think because we didn't want to leave, we arrived in Berlin a day late because we had missed our train from Gent. Instead of spending a splendidly sunny day on the train, we spent it with the Gent folks. Bonus!
Some of the most memorable sights were the giant train stations, Alexanderplatz and Potsdamerplatz, the holocaust memorial (a sea of concrete blocks with walkways in between), checkpoint charlie (historical location of access between east and west germany in increasingly strict segregation), the berlin wall, and the successful combination of new and old architecture. Unfortunately the Reichtag was only open for reserved visits.


Holocaust Memorial

Guy setting up an art exhibition

Remains of Berlin Wall

We had a discussion about the decay in old buildings, and I thought it looked like bullet holes. The city has been through batterings to put it mildly. This was one of the most expected aspects of Berlin, and yet the bullet holes were a shocking reminder of that reality.
Battered pillar
Bullet holes

The Generator hostel, themed like a sort of engine room, had cancelled the room because of a no-show policy, and were full. The name reminded me of the Bad Religion song... Luckily a nearby-ish hostel by the name of Pangea People had free cheap spots. The hostel was clean, beautiful, new, and comfortable. But the stairs were a trap and their self-catering facilities were laughable as we discovered when struggling to boil some eggs. We had it easy compared to a couple who wanted to make pancakes.
Berlin itself was a very welcoming city. Aside from a few essentials like 'bitte, danke, guten morgen, ja, nein,' etc... my German is lacking. People were apologetic when they spoke to me in German instead of English.

Despite many people dispairaging german cuisine, we enjoyed the Berlin version of Doner Kebap with black currant beer, and currywurst (an identifying specialty). We found a little cafe which had delicious pineapple lentil soup and quiche for lunch. Another Berlin specialty was a type of German blonde beer with red syrup, which I elected to try even though the server said it was a typical female drink. Very sweet!

Not enough time in Berlin!


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