Thank God for the final leg...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, July 7, 2006

Berlin jail cells are really quite nice. Spacious with decent facilities if a little hot. Just a tip to anyone intending to visit Berlin in the near future - as opposed to the rest of Germany, Berlin's trains are not free. Not free at all. In fact, the transportation system is such that it even punishes the most innocent of mistakes. How were we to know that tickets had to be purchased on theplatform as opposed to on the train? Every other S bahn system in the country requires purchase of tickets on the train itself. We weren;t to know, having only arrived in Berlin that morning. Wewere trying to ride legitimately, but just didn't know how. These completely true and genuine explanations were dismissed by the ticket inspectors faster than one of my prosecutions (except of course for that taxi one - see page 12 West Australian Feb 22). And having left our passports at the hotel, for our own safety as recommended universally by guide books of course, Brett, Kieran and I were taken downtown for intensive interrogation and other forms of coercion which shall not be spoken of. Snags caved early, seemingly offering to pay a double fine.

German police are known for their lack of sense of humour. Any attemptsatjokes were quickly shut down. 2 examples:
a) Us: Don't we get a phone call? I need to call my parents in Australia.
Cops: No phone call

b) Cops: Does anyone need a drink?
Us: A couple of beers would be nice.
Cops: No. No beer.

In need of identification to process the fine, I was beaten and battered and then thrown into the back of a paddywagon to get our passports from the hotel. Barely conscious, and bearing in mind the failure of the last 2 jokes, I thought better of asking the policenman to put me in handcuffs and take a picture for me. Anyway, aftertheyhad our passports, Brett's having been in his bag all thetime, the cops made us spend next 3 nights in the police lock up. Ok - they didn't really - it was just that night. Alright alright - they released us immediately. But we got off the fine. Or did we? I can't recall having been beaten and battered so much. Cops. Killing me.

Normally, incidents suchas this, forever more called the 'police lock up in Berlin for not having a ticket for the train of the devil of the death from hell', taint your memories or impressions of a city significantly. Not Berlin. Berlin is, by far and away, my favourite city in Germany. Berlin is a city that seems almost entirely consumed by the ghetto, but is better for it. It rejects the pristine plazas and cobblestone streets of Munich, preferring imperfect boulevards to lead the way to the Brandenburg Gate, Goddess of Civtory and the Reichstag. Parts of Berlin stand in stark contrast to the old Berlin. The Fehrumstrum in Alexanderplatz, being the most uninspiring piece of architecture encountered since the pearl tower in Shanghai, and the Sony Centre stand as evidence of the modern and emerging Berlin. It is, indeed, a fascinating place. And it's kebabs are 1/2 the price of anywhere else in Germany. Quite incredibly, we managed to actually see some of Berlin. The burden of constant football having been removed, we ventured out to the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall, thought about busking as a 4 part boyband, didn't and then regretted it. The mostimpressive sights were the Reichstag and the relatively new Jewish Memorial, the goddess of victory less so. Even during the football, possibly suffering from an unheard of concept of being 'footballed out', I ended up at a Komishe Oper performance of Rimsky Korsakov's 'The Golden Cockerel'. Decent performance although no awe-inspiring by any means. The upside was that, due to the entirepopulation of Berlin watching Germany v Portgual, my budget of budget ticket, which should have meant a seat directly, and i mean directly, behind a pillar, gotme a seat that was the best seat in the house. Oh, I should also mention - the adidas world of football? Wicked. Fucking wicked. Our barefoot performance against a bunch of angry turkish dudes equipped with their football boots? Average.

The world cup is over. The world cup trip of the devil of the death from hell is also. And - fuck - i'm exhausted. 35 days are Vinny Grella's Mum's Vanny Van Van Van was first sighted; 64 football matches since we first took to the german roads; having consumed countless kebabs; even more beer, I head to Prague for some relaxation which may well prove to be a life saver. This part of the trip is everything that we thought it would be andperhaps a fair bit that we had no idea would happen. Petty arguments had; bets lost but no paid; bitterness through enforced drinking by the rolling of dice; pure and utter laziness - all part and parcel of the trip - fly into the past as the members of Vinny Grella's Mum's Vanny Van Van Van depart Berlin, not to be together for a long time, perhaps forever...

So, to the Top 5. This Top 5 was originally intended to somehow encapsulate the silliness of this trip. The title may not be entirely appropriate but, in intent, this top 5relates equally to stupidity, hilarity, ridiculousness and just plain 'what'? A note to the fellow members on this trip - I may easily have overlooked something. Please feel free to refresh my memory. So, theTop 5 moments of madness of this trip:

5. Kieran missing his flight from Beijing and almost not making it at all.
4. The Burger King 5 paddie whopper eating challenge (don't ask)
3. Vinny Grella's Mum's Vanny Van Van Van ending up on a pedestrian bridge.
2. 'police lock up in Berlin for not having a ticket for the train of the devil of the death from hell'
1. The referee awarding Italy a penalty for Fabio Grosso's dive that ultimately saw Australia knocked out of the world cup.
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