Monday 15 June 2015
I filled my Interrail pass with its first entry. 14th day of the 6th month. 14:58 from Warsaw to Berlin. My first class compartment was very comfortable as air conditioning was being piped in. I was offered a refreshment (free of course) along with a wafer bar.
The journey on the ICC train through Poland was very quick and smooth. Passport control at the Polish/German border was a formality as the inspectors boarded the train to check out my documents. I was so use to this by now having travelled the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Siberian railway. They never seem happy in their job, always looking expressionless except for a couple of guards when I was travelling between St Petersburg and Helsinki. With a clean bill of “passport health”, I duly arrived at Berlin Haupfbahnof and started to find my bearings.
First things to figure out was how to navigate the public transport system. Lucky for me as a happy holder of an Interrail pass, it allowed me to ride the S-Bahn for free. A short journey from the main station to Alexanderplatz, I was checking into my hotel in no time. Bags dropped off, I walked 100 metres to Hofbrau Berlin. Walking in brought back very fond memories of my jaunt to Oktoberfest in Munich (twice) as the décor was looking familiar.
Settling down on a bench, I ordered a litre of beer which came in a heavy handled stein glass. Accompanying my beverage was a Currywurst with chips. Welcome to Germany…
Tuesday 16 June 2015
Buffet breakfast time at the Ramada. Got down to the restaurant for about 7:30am and already it was busy with a mix of business people and tourists. The food didn’t look particularly fresh but I gave it a go. Scrambled eggs, chewy bacon, luke warm beans and dry chicken wings amongst other things, it did the job of fuelling me for the day. First task of the day was to find a laundrette I was recommended to by my German friends who I met at the Orange Warsaw Festival.
After about an hour of combined S-Bahn travel and walking, I turned up at Freddy Leck’s Waschsalon with a solid 3 weeks worth of washing. As my dirty laundry was being washed, an eccentric German, who I can only assume was Freddy Leck himself, made small talk asking me where I was from. As soon as I mentioned England, he told me how he loved the Queen as he pointed to an early 1970’s framed picture on the wall. Apparently, she is due to visit Berlin next week. After an hour and a quarter, for about 15 EUR for 3 washing machines and equal number of dryers, my clothes were smelling clean and soft. Folded and back to my hotel an hour later, I then wandered over to the TV tower for my 2pm appointment on a Segway Tour.
Joining my tour group were some Americans, two of which had never rode a Segway in their life. Craziness to then book a 3 hour tour for a Segway virgin! After watching them practice for thirty minutes into my 3 hour guided tour, we eventually set off passing beautiful buildings such as the Berliner Dom and University area.
Along the tour, I stopped at Checkpoint Charlie which was the control point between East and West Germany. Very touristy, I got the sense of historical significance of this particular area as my Segway Guide gave a pavement illustration with his bag of chalk.
I then whizzed along a part of the Berlin Wall, DDR Watch Tower, The Holocaust Memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), Brandenburg Gate before ending the tour in the area where Hitler’s bunker was. Very much a car park now, the only reference to the bunkers being located there was an information board.
After spending all morning in the laundrette and 3 hours on a Segway, I was feeling peckish and cold. A quick stop for a seafood medley and prawn salad in a “Brandy Snap” shaped taco at an establishment called Nordsee, I was ready for some more exercise.
First stop on my walk took me back to the Berliner Dom where I just had to do a Cheeky Starfish pose followed by the Brandenburg Gate. On route to the Brandenburg Gate, I stumbled on a temple which had a solemn statue in the middle of the courtyard. Behind a locked gate, it looked very dark and thought provoking.
From the Brandenburg Gate, I walked over Potsdamer Platz to see part of another section of the Berlin Wall still intact. A cobbled line on either side marked where the original and missing sections were.
Through the Sony Centre, I walked the 3 miles or so over to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The setting sun reflecting off its remaining part, it was amazing to see it still standing after near destruction during WWII.
To end the evening, I paid 13 EUR to go up to the TV tower to enjoy the view. With a glass of red wine, I reminisced about my previous visit with my mother as I sat in the same bar enjoying the same drink and view. Good times…
Wednesday 17 June 2015
Early start today as I was one of the first down for another buffet breakfast. More of the same as yesterday, I had an 8:46am train to catch as I would be leaving Berlin today…