Spracken de English, Laundry and White Trash

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
1) EastSeven Hostel, 2) St Christophers Berlin

Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, October 4, 2009

After a wonderful time in Amsterdam (both very sad to leave), we somehow managed to leave our plasma screen tv and glorious shower behind and trotted down the 6 flights of stairs, all before 7.00am people!!! A mere 25 minute walk with packs later, we found the pickup point for our first Busabout (Bus to Berlin) leg, with Lewey's fabulous map skills!

10 hours and a semi comfortable trip later, we arrived in Berlin. Our tourguide on the bus was a delightful guy from Spain, who had stumbled into the infamous 'Oktoberfest' for just ein stein (one giant beer) and told us he did not remember how he got back to his hostel! Hilarious guy, kept correcting his English and getting frustrated with himself. He sounded like the 'Strongbad' character for those in the know!

Anywho, we had a few bus stops including a very interesting toilet stop, where we encountered paying for using the john for the first time. 50cents of Euro later, we were granted relief and what an experience! The loo automatically cleaned itself after we used it - crazy Germans!

The countryside through Amsterdam to Berlin was beautiful - very lush and green, reminiscent of Tassie or NZ. Although it only took around 2 hrs to get to Germany, it was the rest of the 8 hrs to reach Berlin. (it was raining most of the trip, so we were glad to be in a warm bus complete with movies as well!).

We arrived in our drop off at around 6.15pm Tues night and had the 'fun' journey trying to locate our hostel, and also using public transport (we later realised we could have walked there, but anywho...). We quickly discovered to our surprise, that whilst Amsterdam and Honkers were chock full of le English, Germany was not! After attempting to negotiate the ticket system, we eventually caved in and Sprakend de German (spoke ze german) to a very scary looking chick, who was built like the proverbial brick shit house and practically threw our tickets and change back at us, barking all the time, (Dee almost saluted in fear!). Shnelll!!!!

We somehow got on the right train (there are above ground and underground stations at the one terminal and even then multiple options)... and again with the help of Mr Lew's fab directions we found our hostel. A crabby little German guy checked us in and again we were faced with a giant staircase of 8 (count em) levels (Dani is keeping a record of the most stairs) to climb to reach our room. It appears one of the downsides of private rooms is that they are invariably on the top floor. Sacrifices!

As Dee was feeling a little ill (dodgy Burger King at a stop during bustrip) the lovely Lewey saved the day and went walkies all by himself to grab a very satisfying dinner of bread with some butter sachets. (Coping boy! missing our mamas' cooking already!)

We relaxed the first 2 days, feeling old in our common room as some 18 yr olds discussed their travels. After realising Berlin had a lot to offer and in particular a cool public holiday on the weekend, we decided to extend our stay to the following Tues (approx one week). The public holiday was the 20yr anniversary of the Reunification of the 2 sides of Berlin. (We couldn't have picked a better time to come here!)

We had a nice intimate dinner at a gorgeous Italian restaurant, we ordered off the board with pointed fingers and lots of hand gestures (the only word we could make out was 6euro and puttanesca pasta - after the priciness of Amsterdam, we were only too happy to take a stab), the waitress very patient with us. Lewey was very proud of Dani, as with the aid of our language guidebook, she managed to successfully order one still water please and also ask for the bill, again our waitress was really sweet and had a good chuckle.

Having decided to extend our stay we had to change hostels as unfortunately ours was booked up. We were extremely proud of ourselves, as we walked down the street and the first nice hostel we encountered we ended up booking there and then, took maybe 5 mins. (We are normally very indecisive, so this was a big step!). After a move there the next day, we attempted to try and get some laundry done. Still struggling to locate a self service, we found a drycleaner, who was happy to do our laundry, charging 7.50euro per kilo. After weighing our load (maybe 2k each) she promptly annouced we would be paying a massive 37.50euro (approx $75AUD), Lewey's jaw nearly hit the ground, he has since decided the 8euro we paid in Amsterdam wasn't so bad after all...
Obviosuly the lady behind the counter, noticed our backpacker attire and Lewey's shocked face, and kindly explained there was a self service laundromat round the corner. (We later visited said place, and had a hilarious time. We met 2 english guys doing a 'figure of 8' tour of europe, randomly visiting the countries where they could get the cheapest flights to. After 10 minutes of the 4 of us trying to decipher the instructions for the washing machines, (all electronic, not coin operated as we stoopidly expected), the one english bloke remarked 'bloody Germans, they come up with all the technology and then they hold out on us so we don't know how to use it, arseholes!'...
He was later very embarrased when a lady who had been sitting, waiting for her laundry to finish, offered to show Dee how to use the system. (Dee later ended up passing on her valuable knowledge to 3 other backpackers from around the world, as we sat patiently waiting for our washing). Lewey remarked that Dee should have charged for her knowledge, just like the toilets. The one english guy looked like a moosh between fat albert and lenny henry, really nice guys though...

Lewey was pleasantly surprised at the new hostel, as we were again above a large pub, however this time, it was a sports bar with a very Aussie feel - complete with AFL and cricket (Lewey was in heaven, he got to watch the ICC semi final live! Howzat!) Dani was too delighted to discover an elevator as opposed to multiple flights of stairs, she decided this was a large bonus...she had not yet used the 'shared' bathroom facilities or the infamous shower... she would later re-assess the merit of stairs versus a decent faucet.

We took a tour to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the first prototype camp built by the Nazis. It was a very moving and really informative experience. We were both struck firsthand by the enormity of it all. A great help was our fantastic tourguide, Ryan, an interesting character - Scottish guy from Dunedin, who had supposedly moved to Germany for the weather (yet it was freezing cold and raining all day when we went). Looking like a moosh between Alan Cummings and 'Where's Wally', with some punk accents of some big arse black boots, he guided us through the eerie campsite, culminating in a very shocking visit to the actual remains of the building 'Z', the final exit from the camp, where there were the acutal remains of the crematorium used to dispose of thousands of bodies, were still standing. After 3hrs in the cold and rain, it was a very hard hitting moment. We were amazed to learn that during the time of the Berlin wall division, hardcore Socialist couples acutally were married on the site of the camp and it was seen as an honour to do so.!!

In our tourgroup, we socialised with a few couples and some barbie dolls - girls who wore loads of makeup and were very inappropriately dressed given the weather forecast as well as the situatuon, they looked ready for a nightclub, Dani understandably was put out - she was dressed very appropriately, but looked like a 'real' backpacker in her butch boots and all. Our group was all from Australia, save one weird spanish guy and one of the couples was actiually staying at our hostel, we later had dinner with them that night (the meals at the bar are very reasonable priced and very yummy!) Spirit mixer drinks were 2 for 1 for 5euro - unheard of - and cheaper than back in Aus.

Dani's first shower Sat morning was an interesting experience. Lewey had warned her from his time the night before, but nothing could prepare her for what awaited. A faucet spout that you had to push to make the water come out, which only lasted about 5 seconds. You then had to wait another 10seconds and push again, when the water would maybe come out again if it felt like it. Some time later, a very shitty and ill washed Dani returned to the room and declared shared facilities sucked!
Thankfully she was rewarded later when she decided to be savy and scope out another shower, much better facilities and the water lasted a good 20 seconds instead of five. The faucet was even a massagey function, hair washed with little trouble! Happy Dani.

After some suggestions from Ryan on where to go for Dani's birthday, we and our new couple friends ventured out on Sat night to the 'White Trash' club, which we had initially thought was a porno theatre from the signpost on the outside. It was an awesome experience, the club was an indie/alternative scene, people very dressed down and the dancing was very fun (reminded us of being little kids, not much co-ordination required and lots of jumping around with arms flailing).
Lewey even ended up on the dancefloor and seemed to enjoy himself. Dani tried an infamous 'jagerbomb' and decided it was more of a tiny jagermissle.

Dani's birthday was celebrated today in style! A sleep in followed by a visit to the Flea Markets (which was awesome!), think Camberwell markets, but 5 times bigger, we couldn't get over how much shit people were trying to sell, and the vast amounts of crap that people were willing to buy!

Some birthday German traditional apple strudle was the finale event to a very very memorable birthday! Feeling older, but wiser too :)

Off to do a walking tour of Berlin tomorrow, we will edit blog once we've done it and hopefully add a few pics when we can.

This is Ground Control to Major Tom, signing off.

Ciao from the former East Berlin xox.
Berlin to be continued... (out of internet time yet again).
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Marga on

Hello. Very interesting description of your stay in Berlin. I can identify with much of it, as my husband and I are currently in Berlin (that we came in from Amsterdam) and also had to figure out the metro / tram system and deal with some grumpy characters at the ticket counter / information desks. We also have not had luck finding a self-service laundry shop - could you give me the location of the one you went to? I've looked through the web and asked several people here. Would greatly appreciate your assistance on this. Thanks.

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