I have spent 4 days in Berlin and all I want to say is: Amazing !!!
After leaving a handsome German physicists on the train, I caught a taxi and had a handsome German cabbie, who didn’t speak a word of English. Still love has its own language and fortunately I had written the address of the apartment in German. My mate M found a great apartment for us in Alexanderplatz. It was central enough and right next to transport and shopping !!!! We had a little kitchen and were able to cook a couple of meals as well as prepare breakfast each morning!!
I got a grip on the U-bahn and S-bahn and we hopped on and off in need (after mastering the underground in London, I felt brave enough to take on anything!). M and I also walked a lot. For those that are wondering, yes I did get lost, but in doing so...stumbled across a nice shopping area that had Lacoste and Campers, however, I refrained from buying as the prices were comparable to those back home.
M and I did a walking tour of the main sights. At the start of the tour we saw a completely naked woman walk over a bridge from Museum Island and towards us (yes, how cool, they have an Island of Museums!). We saw many lovely buildings, all recent. The tour guide kept reminding us that everything is fake.. ‘looks old, isn’t!’. Almost everything in Berlin was destroyed in the Second World War. We also learned that despite Germany being a well-off country, Berlin is a very poor capital!!! While we rested for a coffee break at the Brandenburg Gate (just before we walked through it!!!), a trailer and some vans pulled up in front of it, musicians sprang forth, jumped on the trailer and give us a quick 2 song set from 'We will rock you' the musical, which was soon to open. They sang, 'we will rock you' and 'we are the champions'... how AMAZING to have Queen sung in front of the Brandenburg gate !!! We then walked through the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe ‘Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas’ (also known as the Holocaust Memorial). As the tour drew closer to the end, we came across some remains of 'the wall', and then saw where the original checkpoint Charlie stood, now a weird touristy setup.
The next day we went on a tour to Sachsenhausen, a forced work camp. To be honest, I had not wanted to see any of these sites on this trip, but M was going regardless and I thought- I'll do something I wouldn’t usually do, so joined her. It was an emotionally exhausting experience. I am very glad I went, but I had to leave some sites a few times because I was becoming overcome emotionally. I have read accounts of holocaust survivors and of the many who didn't survive and found these distressing enough, but when faced with actual parts of peoples shoes and belongings, their personal photos, as well as photos of them, in seeing the actual ovens in which they burnt those poor people, the beds they were cramped in…. it was horrific…. I remember seeing a book in which the names of those who died were written. As I drew closer to it the names become clearer and I cried. How can one not see one’s own name or the names of our loved ones there and not be moved? How can anyone not cry at the sheer horror of what we as humans have done and are capable of doing and continue to do? Anyway, enough of this talk…I feel sad thinking about it all and of the responsibility we all carry as humans to ensure peacefully that such things never occur again.
Now, onto other things…. My friend M is a character. She is loud, extroverted and talks to anyone. She is full of class (‘lower class’ that is) and has no hesitation in dropping the F word loudly regardless of where she is. M being who she is, got to chatting to a few other Aussies and we all ended up at a table at the Berliner Rebublik bar to watch Germany kick Australia's but 4 nil in the world cup !!!..Oh the shame!!!! My poor brother Christopher was watching it in South Africa (He traveled to South Africa to watch the world cup,… talk about dedication!). My brother and I SMS'ed each other a few times during half time.. he was as disappointed with our playing as I was..... Still, what a fantastic experience, watching Australia play Germany in the world cup, in a bar in Berlin !!!
The next day, M and I walked through the very beautiful Tiergarten. We went to the East Side Gallery and saw a remaining part of ‘the wall’ which has art on it. Oh, and afterwards we found a beach bar!! Yay!!! Sand was brought in and placed along the river banks for summer. It was just like being on a European beach, except for the lack of German tourists (European joke there…)!! Moving right along….. After M left to go back to Dublin, I went out again and tracked down a gallery called Tacheles. A friend from Uni, Michelle, had lived and worked in Berlin and strongly suggested it, though it was hard to find and I got a little lost (again) it was well worth the trip to the gallery.
Agh!!!! Berlin I love you!!!
Today I am on a train to Munich. It is a 6 hour trip. I am sharing a first class cabin with a handsome man, who speaks perfect English (he is an interpreter who specializes in certain areas), of course he is married with 3 children, still, he wants to chat and I have 6 hours to kill…and he has lovely eyes!
Next stop- Munich!
Across the road from the apartment: Bahnhof Alexanderplatz.
The bedroom/living space of the apartment:
TV tower (Fernsehturm) This guided us home many a time!- Just walk towards the tower!!
Cool lane with exposed wiring, somewhere near Marketplatz
Staircase at Kunsthaus Tacheles (Art House Tacheles)
An art galleries and churches we saw on the walking tour:
Section of the remaining Berlin wall
The Holocaust Memorial
As you walk through the memorial, the ground is uneven, anyone can appear from the left or right paths and you are left with a feeling of fear and uncertainty.
The east side Gallery (part of the remain Berlin wall):