"I'll have nine sausages please"-
Trip Start Jan 27, 2010
32Trip End Dec 09, 2010
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Whilst it looked like... well pretty much a Gypsie community, our Campground outside of Berlin was actually pretty nice. We felt kind of special when we were ceremoniusly handed a roll of toilet paper and 8 shower tokens by a very jove Deutscheman. Little did we know that the showers literally lasted for 45 seconds (no exaggeration) in 15 second intervals, which gave birth to never before seen pre-shower planning and brainstorming sessions as we endeavoured to make use of every last second of water and avoid being left 'in the soap'. That was of course if we actually got into the toilet block, as the key we were presented with failed to open any doors and was more ceremonial than user friendly. So we used morse code, the fail safe knocking rhythm "da, da da da, da.......da, da....?" worked a charm! Nonetheless, the location was unbeatable
We caught a morning train into central Berlin, to a train station called Friedrichstrasse, which we also discovered is not pronounced phonetically. We spent the day walking, getting acquainted with the feel of the city and deciding what to do over the next few days. We made our way to the Brandenburg gate and then through the massive Tiergarten which felt like the biggest inner city 'park' in the world - more like a forest. On our way through the 'forest' we saw our first red squirrel! Adorable. Then we almost saw it get eaten by a dog, but 'Red Thunder' (as he was christened) was too quick for 'Lord Death Jaws' and made it to the safety of a nearby tree in the nick of time.
We were once again stung by restorations and made a 4km round journey to see a whole heap of scaffolding ("think of the exercise...") instead of the Victory Column. By late afternoon, we had literally walked over 10km and only scratched the surface of what Berlin had to offer, however we had more pressing items to attend to. Our legs were stuffed and we were left with no choice but to soothe our aching muscles and bones with Currywurst sausages and Pommes (chips not apples - Kristine was suitably embarrassed when she wondered out loud why they served sausages with apples) and of course the greatest muscle relaxant of them all - Berliner Pilsner along with the mulitple unpronouncable half litre's of Schofferhofer? (Chris didn't even attempt to say this one and just pointed to the board)
We spent a good portion of the next day on the 'Best of Berlin' bike tour, which departed from the Kulturebrewerai outside of the city centre. It was an agonising walk to the departure point with every muscle in our legs exacting vengance for the previous days 10km in thongs (we deserved it...). Once a children's bike was located for Kristine, we headed off on the tour, all 18 in the group, winding through the narrow streets and along the footpaths. As the name suggests, the tour covered the highlights of the city, spread apart as they are that you could never see them all in a day. From the Brandenburg Gate and its French-tauntung statue to the infamous Bebelplatz, even taking 5 to grab a beer in an old bombed-out shopping centre-come-street art gallery Tacheles, the tour was superb and made even better by our extremely knowledgeable guide who grew up in Soviet Berlin and had obvious aspirations for the stage. We capped off the day by voting at the Australian Embassy - which curiously we were able to do without once showing any form of id?
Finding it increasingly hard to get up after two days of solid exercise (aren't we precious), we kicked off the following day with a slow (really slow...and kind of hobbly) walk along the Eastside Gallery - the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall.Covered in retro street art, many looking as if the wall had only just come down, there were some really cool and abstract designs. A worthwhile visit. We also visited Checkpoint Charlie and the former SS HQ and now museum exhibition, graphically detailing the atrocities of these and similar war-criminals. It was a tough exhibition to get through however highly recommended.
PS - Check out the video of the booze bike - it appeared over the horizon, filled our lives with happiness, then trundled into the distance amid blaring car horns, never to be seen or heard from again.
Next blog, cracking Krakow!