Berlin: Another country, another capital

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2011

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Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, July 3, 2011

With my short detour back to Vancouver, I had to reshuffle my schedule and move my planned visit to Germany from July to September.  Since it made sense logistically to stop by Berlin before heading south, that's exactly  what I did!  The joys of not having a set itinerary!  I had to change trains in Poznan (close to the border of Poland and Germany) but because the connecting train was leaving shortly after, I didn't have time to queue at the ticket office and buy a ticket.  I was told by some of the locals that I could just pay on the train for just a few zlotys more.  I hopped on the train and looked for the ticket guy but he was nowhere to be found.  The ticket inspector finally made his rounds and when he asked for my ticket in Polish, I just showed him a piece of paper with "Poznan - Berlin: kupic bilet prosze".  He hand gestured me to wait but he left the carriage and never came back!  I have a feeling he didn't want to deal with an English speaker!  Anyways, when we were about 15 minutes away from Berlin, another ticket inspector came and luckily this German inspector was fluent in English.  It was a bit of a sticker shock for me because I was taking trains in Poland for about $10 - $15 CDN per trip.  Crossing into Germany territory cost me 29 € ($40 CDN)! I arrived at my hostel after a short bus ride and had currywurst and beer, the ubiquitous fast food meal of Berlin.  Sliced up pork sausage smothered with ketchup and curry powder with a generous helping of fries...  sounds like a winner to me!  

The next morning, I went on yet another free walking tour that turned out to be a major disappointment.  The guide seemed disinterested and even slightly pompous.  Plus, he was originally from Australia! It also didn't help that it was raining the entire day.  I only tipped him 3 €.  I stopped by the DDR museum which offered a glimpse into what daily life was like in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) for almost 40 years.  It was very interesting and it prompted me to get my hands on a copy of the movie "Goodbye Lenin".  When I got back to the hostel, I found out that some friends I met in Sopot were also in Berlin so I met up with them for some drinks in the evening.

One of the first few people I met during my travels in New Zealand also lives in Berlin.  I was able to get in touch with her so we decided to meet up on Sunday afternoon.  I managed to attend a church service in the morning at Berlin International Church which was pastored by a C&MA (Christian & Missionary Alliance) worker.  We worshipped at the cinema in Postdamer Platz (home of the impressive Sony Center) and it was quite different to sing several songs in German!  After service, I met S at the Warschauer U-bahn stop and she took me to this funky neighborhood for lunch.  She even brought some homemade German cake for me!  I love going where the locals hang out!  It started to pour again but I wanted to see the infamous East Side Gallery, a 1.3km section of the Berlin Wall.  S wanted to show me a few more places but unfortunately they were all closed since it was a Sunday.  After we said our goodbyes (she had a night shift), I visited the Jewish Museum, a comprehensive exhibition on German-Jewish history since the 4th century .  The building itself is a work of art as it resembles a contorted Star of David.  Definitely worth a visit!  For my last meal in Berlin, I went to this neighborhood pub, Schusterjunge, recommended by the Lonely Planet.  I had the sour marinated beef (a traditional Berlin dish) and a local brewed beer.  Both were delicious! 

Even though it rained for 3 days straight in Berlin, I still enjoyed my time in this capital.  There is so much history and culture in this city and I don't think I gave it a fair chance.  I may return here in September.  Hopefully the weather will be better!
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